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Canadian Motocross History 1960 – 1965

Bill Sharpless and Gunter Sauren, 1960 championship

The 1960 Canadian Scrambles Championship was held at Mosport Park on Labour Day Sept. 4. Hamilton’s Steel City Riders provided B. E. M. C. with the staff. Comments by writer Ron White included. “Expert class. Sharpless & Sauren, a thrilling duel for first, two of the best at their best.”

Winners were as follows: 200 c.c. Bill Wetzel, Cleveland Ohio, Triumph cub. 250 c.c. Ron Wheatley, Montreal, BSA. Junior 500c.c. Dave Smith, Toronto, Matchless. Senior 500 c.c. John Semple, Cleveland Ohio, Velocette and Expert 500 c.c. Bill Sharpless, Toronto, Matchless.

2 B.C.’s Vern Amor, 1961 Nationals

The British Columbia Motorcycle club ran their Championship Scramble in October of 1960. They announced they were going to score the race on a point system like the European Moto Cross. Dominating the 250 class was a rider they only described as Aloha from Tacoma Washington on a Matchless. They only ran two classes with Vern Amor, Victoria, Matchless winning the 650 c.c. class.

The 1961 Nationals held at Copetown were described as a true National Championship with riders like Vern Amor coming from B. C. on the new Greeves square barrel, 4 Alberta riders including Arnold Gray from Calgary and Reg Bellerose from Edmonton, Americans like the Wetzel brothers from Cleveland, Dave Robinson from New York State, and John Garriepy from Massachusetts. Strangely, no Quebecers.

Start of the First Challenge Heat 1962

The 200 c.c. class was won by Bill Wetzel, Cleveland. The 250 c.c. Vern Amor, Victoria B. C., Greeves, Junior 500 c.c. winner was Fernando Pistone, Hamilton, Matchless, while John Braden, Waterdown, AJS won the Senior 500 c.c. The Expert 500 c.c. Champion was Matti Pellinen, Toronto, Matchless.
Ads in the CMA news in 1961 had Firth Motorcylces offering the Matchless 500 compie new for $915., while Gunter Sauren had his ’61 Matchless 250 c.c. for sale for $475.

1962 nationals, #72 Hugh Lim, #261 Bill Wetzel, #166 N/A, #84 Ray Boasman, #170 Ken Shock, #344 Carl Bastedo, #77 Jim Kelly

1962 was a watershed year for Canadian Scrambles. Rider enthusiast Bob Guzzo from Ottawa, came up with the idea of challenging the U. S., more particularly the New England States which were the hotbed of U. S. scrambling at that time, to a challenge match. Working with magazine editor Bob Hicks from Massachusetts, he put together the first Eastern Canada New England challenge matches. For the next 8 years these two annual events, one in New England usually Grafton Vermont, and one in Canada, usually at Copetown (although Mosport was the scene of the first event in 1962) became the focus for Motocross in Canada. The events were very classy productions that drew huge crowds of enthusiastic spectators and incredible battles on the track.

Some comments from the first round in the C. M. A. news. “the care in which New Englanders keep their homes – beautiful white palaces -, the green Mountain scenery, indescribably beautiful.” “After a jittery practice session- caused by the magnitude of the extremely fast Grafton scrambles course, no doubt a course which required very little other than full chat in high gear – especially down hill and over the jump – was gradually mastered an the races were anxiously awaited.” “To add to the spice for the day, Canadian Larry Bastedo was asked to do the announcing for the final race and in ten minutes he had three thousand spectators screaming – they hadn’t even cheered at last years Eastern vs. Western U. S. event last year from what we heard.” It is to be hoped that this was only the first of many such events in the Moto-Cross calendars of the future”. (That was the first time I’ve noted the word Moto-Cross although it was mispelt being used other than in Firths ads for Matchless Moto-Cross machines, it was also the first reference to an Eastern vs. Western U. S. challenge of some sort.”

1963 Grafton Vermont, Dave Smith – Terry Barber – Jim Kelly – Al Aldo – Mike Binkley – Roger Durkee – Steve Pekar – Ray Boasman.

New England won the day that first round but they just list team points and not all the winners. Teams that first year 3 riders each in two capacity classes, lightweight and 500 c.c. Lightweight team members included Ray Boasman, Hugh Lim, and Mike Binkley for Canada and Dick Gariepy, Joe Bolger and Cliff Verkade for the U. S. The 500 team had Jack Hunt, John Braden and Roger Beaumont for Canada and Dick Bettencourt, Timer Simonds and Dick Vincent for the U. S.

The Americans won the first return match at Mosport as well, although the gaunlet had been thrown and we were in for another 7 years of great events.

First Corner Return Match Copetown 1963

The Nationals were held at Copetown in August of 1962. Winners were as follows. 200 c.c. Bill Wetzel, Cleveland Ohio. 250 c.c. Dick Gariepy, Massachusets. Junior 500, Norm Braden, Waterdown. Senior 500 Mike Binkley, Copetown. The 500 c.c. Expert final was won by american Timer Simonds.

The Canadians lost the Challenge match again in 1963 but only because of some bad luck. It was very close and 500 c.c. team riders Fernando Pistone and Dave Sehl each won 2 of the 4 heats. The other Canadian on the 500 c. c. team was John Braden who rode poorly due to injuring his back water skiing the day before. The 250 team was the big letdown with both Jim Kelly and Ray Boasman falling. The other 250 team member Dave Smith won the first heat while American Terry Barber won the other three. The other americans on the 250’s were Babe Aldo and Steve Pekar while Bob Hicks, replacing the injured Don Cutler, Roger Durkee and Dick Bettencourt.

1964 National Champions, 500 c.c. Expert #1 Jack Hunt, 250 c.c. Expert #76 Yvon Duhamel, 250 Junior #250 Mo Fraser, 500 c.c. Junior #150 Terry Porter

The 1963 Canadian Nationals were held in Edmonton Alberta and Albertans including the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta were thrilled at the calibre of racing. Winners–250 c.c. Ted Toupin, Edmonton, B. S. A., Junior 500 c.c., Dave Linton, Calgary, B. S. A., Expert 500 c.c. Reg Bellerose, Edmonton, B. S. A.
The 1964 Grafton round of the Challenge match was held July 11 weekend and for the first time the Canadians dominated the Yanks and returned to Copetown Civic Holiday weekend. It looked like we were finally going to defeat the Americans, but it was not to be. The event was covered by CBC and televised.

The Americans, were led by Joe Bolger, 500 c.c.ESO and Dick Bettencourt, 250 c.c. CZ who each won all 4 heat races in their class. Backing up Bolger on the 500’s were Dick Vincent, Gordon Razee and Al Laviolette while the Canadian team consisted of Jim Sehl, Gerry VanderEyken, Dave Sehl and Jack Hunt. Joining Bettencourt for the Americans were Wes Sullivan, Bill Dutcher and Bernie Travers. The Canadian 250 riders were Ray Boasman, Dave Smith, Jim Kelly and John DeGruchy.

Canada’s 1964 Motocross Des Nations Team

The 1964 Nationals held August 9 went back to Quebec for the first time since 1957. The Saguenay Moto Club in Chicoutimi presented an unforgettable weekend of racing including parades through the streets, television coverage and spectacular parties, (not much has changed in Quebec). The 250 Junior was won by Mo Fraser, Hamilton, the 500 c.c. Junior Terry Porter, Ottawa, Jawa. 250 c.c. Expert winner was Yvon DuHamel, Montreal, CZ (Yvon was Canada’s #1 Dirt Track racer at the time and would go on to become one of the best road racers Canada has ever produced. Could he be Canada’s Motorcycle Competitor of the Century?). The 500 c.c. Expert went to Jack Hunt, Toronto, Matchless.

Another highlight of 1964 was that we sent our first team to the Motocross Des Nations at Hawkstone Park. The team consisted of Ontario riders Dennis Mitchell and Norman Braden and Albertans Rudi Zacsko and Reg Bellerose.

The Diminutive Quebecer, Yvon DuHamel wins 4 of 4 motos

In 1965 the Canadians came the closest yet to winning the Canada vs. New England Challenge Scramble. The addition of Yvon DuHamel at last years event made the racing tight and he again won all 4 of the 500 c.c. motos he entered. Wait till next year took on new meaning. 250 U. S. competitors in order of finishing position Joe Bolger, Bob Hicks, Whyman and Dick Bettencourt. Canadians Doug Sehl, Dave Smith, Terry Porter and Ray Boasman. American 500 c.c. riders Gancsos, Gord Razee, Don Cutler, and Al La Violette Canadian 500 c.c. Yvon DuHamel, Dave Sehl, Gunter Sauren and Jim Kelly.

The 1965 Canadian Nationals went to Edmonton Alberta. The under 100 c.c. was won by Rollie Seacott, Edmonton, Honda, the 250 c.c. Junior Andy Deluca, Port Alberni, B. C. Bultaco-Metisse. The open Junior Mel Skaar, Calgary, Triumph, 250 c.c. Expert, Zoli Berenyi, Edmonton, Greeves while the Open Expert was won by Reg Bellrose, Edmonton, B. S. A.