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Canadian Motocross History 1956 – 1959

Ab Everest, Oshawa, AJS, 1956 Ontario 500 C.C Expert Champion Shown in 1957.

By the mid fifties it was common to have competitors travel from province to province and even have visits from some of the early pioneers from the U. S.
Another thing to note was that right up to the late 60’s, the majority of riders rode more than just scrambles. Many Roadraced, rode trials, enduros and dirt track as well.

The Ontario Championship Scrambles was held in the fall of 1956 at the Peterborough track with a record entry of 45 riders from as far east as Quebec and as far west as Hamilton.

The Junior class was won by Frank Godfrey, AJS while Don Haddow, Ariel won the Senior and Ab Everest AJS the Expert. The 200 c.c. class was on by Sheldon Smith.

Winners at Canada’s First National Championship at Delson Quebec, Sept. 15 1957, Senior Official George Davis (kneeling) with champions L. to R. Gerry Marshall, Expert, Lachine Quebec Jerry Guay, Junior, Montreal Quebec, and Gunter Sauren, Senior, Toronto.

At the end of the day they always held a Grand Prix event open to all comers, with a handicap start, Juniors followed by the two strokes (200 c.c.), then the Seniors and finally the Experts. The article in the CMA publication describes the 20 lap Grand Prix start with 38 riders as “a sight to behold”. Frank Godfrey AJS won the final followed by Larry Bastedo AJS, Sheldon Smith, Dot, John Hollywell, James, Glen Perry, Triumph, and Gunter Sauren, AJS.
The first National Championship Scramble was held Sept. 15, 1957 at Delson Quebec promoted by the Verdun and Sports Motorcycle Clubs. This was the first promoters war as the clubs in Ontario where furious that the first National went to Quebec. The Ontario County Motorcycle Club where given a sanction to hold the Eastern Canadian Championship the day before at Whitby. Very few riders made the trip to Quebec after the Whitby event.

Peterborough, Good Friday 1957. #81 Larry Bastedo, Hamilton, AJS passed #1 Ab Everest, Oshawa, AJS on the last lap to take the win in his first Expert class race. Other riders include #99 Lloyd “Torchy” Palser, #11 Bill Strachan and #33 Sheldon Smith.

Winning the first National Championships where Junior, Jerry Guay, AJS, Senior, Gunter Sauren, Toronto, AJS, Lightweight, Watkins, Triumph (writers in the 50’s seldom used first names or just used initials, they also rarely said where a rider was from). The Expert 500 c.c. champion was Gerry Marshall AJS, Lachine Quebec. A rider named Waters on a Francis Barnett won the Grand Prix. The article stated that “riders were on hand from Quebec, Ontario the U. S. and even one from British Columbia.

The Whitby event the day before the National had a number of U. S. riders in attendance including Don Burnett of Danver Massachusetts, who won the expert class on a “full house Triumph he usually uses for road racing”. Roy O’Connor, BSA, New York state and Al Lewis, BSA, Pennsylvania also rode. Dereck Patterson, Hamilton, Matchless won the Grand Prix.

Eastern Canadian Championship Scramble. Copetown, Sept. 1 1958. Winners R. to L. Expert 500 c.c. #81 Larry Bastedo. Hamilton, AJS, Senior 500 c.c. #431 Robert Sandercombe, Junior 500 c.c. Denton Craig, Montreal, BSA, 200 c.c. #22 Bob Kelly, Hamilton, Greeves, 250 c.c. #462, Dick Gariepy, Triumph, Massachusetts. Also shown #461, Joe Bolger, Massachusetts, Horex.

The CMA held their Nationals one year in the West and one in the East the first 3 or 4 years of Nationals so in 1958 the event was held in Langley British Columbia. No Eastern riders made the trip but in future years the B. C. riders would prove to be worthy competitors. Winners of the 1958 Nationals where Lightweight, Vern Amor, Triumph, Victoria. 500 Junior, Don Richardson, Triumph, Victoria, 500 Senior Bill Squelch, Royal Enfield , Vancouver and 500 Expert, Tom Richardson, Triumph, Victoria.

The picture on this page tells the story of the 1958 Eastern Canadian Championships held at the famous (even then) Copetown track near Hamilton.

Scandinavian newcomer Matti Pellinen, Toronto, Matchless. Pellinen won the junior 500 c.c. National title Sept. 7, 1959 at Copetown. Pellinen was the forerunner of a avalanche of Finish and Swedish riders who came to Canada in the 60’s and 70’s

The 1959 Nationals came back east to stay for a while and at Copetown on Sept 7. The writer states that “50 riders crowded the pit area with entries from Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and the U.S.

Winners where, 200 c.c. Dave Waters, Triumph, Montreal, 250 c.c. Joe Bolger, Massachusetts, AJS, Junior 500 c.c., Matti Pellinen, Toronto, Matchless, Senior 500 c.c. Doug Browne, Calgary, Royal Enfield. The Expert 500 c.c. champion would become one of Canada’s greatest all round riders Bill Sharpless, Toronto, Matchless.

Bill Sharpless, Toronto, Matchless, 1959 Expert National 500 c.c. champion.