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Canadian Motocross History 1966 – 1969

The Americans–500 c.c. Mel Ganscos, BSA, Dick Bettencourt, CZ, George Cunha, Triumph and Tom Cygnor, Matchless. 250 c.c.–Joe Bolger, Bultaco, Rick Wyman, Bultaco, Allan Niles, Bultaco and Ron Jeckel, Bultaco.

1966 Challenge Match, Copetown. #78 Jack Hunt leads a 500 c.c. heat with #204 Bob Archer, Americans #20 Dick Forward and #17 Dick Bettencourt think they have #1 Yvon DuHamel boxed in. DuHamel won all 4 heats.

July 16, 1966 and the motocross community converged on Quebec & St. Agathe Des Monts for what was called the “Motocross Des Nations”. We had no idea what to expect except that going to Quebec was always a lot of fun. This time the promoters really did it.

They said that Bob & Jim Kelly were the Irish team, Carl and Larry Bastedo were the Spanish team, Ray Boasman was on the British team, Joe Bolger the American, and on it went. Thousands of Spectators, CTV television coverage, lots of laughs, who cares who won, Quebec had done it again.

The 1966 National Championship was held at Fonthill. 72 entries, 1,200 paid spectators, and “the best racing ever witnessed at Fonthill” made this event a great success for the Welland County Motorcycle Club. Winners–100 c.c. class- Ron Wheatley, Montreal, Honda 2nd Fernando Pistone, Dundas, Honda 3rd Ted Sturgess Jr., Hamilton, Honda. 250 Expert–Magnus Kleele, Etobicoke, CZ, 2nd Yvon DuHamel, Montreal, CZ 3rd George Chap, Montreal, CZ. Open Expert–Dave Sehl, Waterdown, Triumph, 2nd Yvon DuHamel, Montreal, CZ 3rd Gerry VanderEyken, Oakville, CZ.

Dave Sehl on the Harley Davidson Sprint leads Yvon DuHamel on the CZ in a 250 c.c. heat at the 1966 Nationals, Fonthill Ontario.
Dec. 4, 1966 Kingston. Yvon took the lead for a couple corners, Torsten is followed by Seppo Makinen, Moe Fraser, Dan Cozens and George Gade. Yvon carried the #1 plate into 1967.\

The 1967 Nationals where held back out West September 3 at Totem raceways near Aldergrove. Ninety competitors travelled from across Canada and some States. More than 1,500 spectators witnessed some great racing. Winners included Jon McCaffery, Hodaka in the 100 c.c. class with Ron Wheatley, Montreal, Honda in 2nd and Don Rhodes, Auburn Washington, Bultaco in third. Fifteen year old Stan Amor, Victoria, Moto Beta was fourth. The 250 c.c. Junior went to Doug McCorkindale, Toronto, Bultaco. The 250 c.c. Expert was won by Seppo Makinen, Toronto, Husqvarna who held on for the win over Vern Amor, Victoria, Bultaco. Harold Ellis, B. C., Husqvarna won the open Junior. Zoli Berenyi Sr., Edmonton, CZ won the Open Expert.

The 1968 Challenge Scramble was won by Canada for the third year straight. Hero’s of the Copetown round where the Fin Seppo Makinen on his Bultaco and Waterdown’s Dave Sehl on the 500 c.c. Metisse. Both riders lap times never varied more than a ½ second and where identical. Team members for the U. S. 250 c.c. were Bruce Mcguire, New Hampshire, Jim Weinert, New York state, Bob Owen, Conneticut, and Cliff Frazee and Joe Higgins, Massachusetts. The U. S. 500 team consisted of Glen Vincent, George Parmalee and Mel Gancos, Conneticut, Ron Jeckel, New York state, and Joe Bolger, Massachusets.
250 c.c. Canadian Team Members where Seppo Makinen, Toronto, Yvon DuHamel, Montreal, Maurice Fraser, Hamilton, Jerry Van Der Eyken, Acton and Carl Bastedo, Niagara Falls. 500 c.c. members included Jack Hunt, Guelph, Gunter Sauren, Toronto, Norm Richens, Clarkson and the Sehl Brothers, Dave and Doug, Waterdown.

78 Gunter Sauren duals with American George Parmelee at the 1968 Copetown Challenge round

On Dec. 4 Promoter George Kirkpatrick brought 1962, 1963 and 1966 World Champion Torsten Hallman to race in Kingston (Dec 4, wow). All the top Canadians showed up to get a lesson from the Swede and they did. Hallman won all 6 heats on Kirks much used 250 Husqvarna on the rough sand track. He tucked under Jack Hunt on a hairpin turn and even outmanoeuvered Yvon HuHamel on the “wall of death”. It was our first glimpse as to how far we had to go to get to the top in the motocross world.

In 1967 it was Arthur Browning the English 360 c.c.Greeves factory rider who came to Lynden to show the Canadians how it was done. The Bultaco factory sent 250 rider Oriol Bulto, a member of the Family. Browning decimated the Canucks with American Ron Jeckel coming 2nd and Jack Hunt 3rd followed by Magnus Kleele. Bulto didn’t fair so well with Mo Fraser taking 1st in the 250 class, Bulto 2nd and American Joe Bolger in third.

In 1967 the Canadians returned from Grafton with a lead in the Challenge match, could they win 2 in a row? The rain fell on that Civic Holiday but the crowds came and the racing, The team matches, fantastic last corner passes by U.S. riders McGuire and Vincent. Tremendous dual between American Glen Vincent and Dave Sehl in the final 500 match; the beautiful riding of Yvon DuHamel, picking up his machine after a first lap fall and going on to win all 4 500 c.c. races on a new CZ. Many of the spectators, and us, will remember the sight of 60 riders pouring off the line in the all comers final and the 20 lap battles which took place all down the field with Glen Vincent finally coming out on top and Dave Sehl on the snorting Triumph second. We’ll remember the fierce battles in the support class 250 Expert with veteran George Chap and 15 year old Vermont rider Alan Munroe, with Chap finally taking the win. To top all this, the Canadians take the win for the second year in a row. What a day, we can’t wait till next year when we have a chance to tie the Americans with 3 wins apiece over the past 6 years.

Canadian Team member Doug Sehl. Copetown Challenge Round 1968.

1968 the last of the Challenge Matches as International Motocross was to arrive in 1969.

The 1968 Canadian Nationals where held at Copetown Sept. 29. Results to follow

Canada’s first International Motocross was run at one of the many Copetown tracks on November 2, 1969. It was a forerunner of the Trans Am series which started in 1970. Strangely enough, this is when a number of people think motocross started in Canada and the U. S. The Fog, mud and rain made the event seem almost imaginery but the crowds where thrilled with the wheelies of multi time World Champion Joel Robert, Belgium, CZ. The International race featured the Euro’s but Jim Kelly writes “Heikki Ylonen rode a tremendous race on his 250. He was actually giving some of the Swedes a real battle but suffered a broken chain. This let flying Bobby Fisher of Oshawa in for a well deserved “first non-European”.

Multi time World Champion Joel Robert at Copetown 1969.

The Canadian Nationals where held in Edmonton Alberta in 1969 and the Husqvarna Importer, Steen Hansen, brought in former World Champion Gunnar Lindstrom to ride the event. Lindstrom won the 500 cc class while newcomer to Canada Czech Zdeno Syrovy won the 250 c.c class.
1969 also saw the first CMA sanctioned Schoolboy race in Canada at Niagara Falls with local native 13 year old Tom Gillespie winning the Ontario Championship event.

Tom Gillespie, Niagara Falls, Ontario, Kawasaki, Canada’s first Schoolboy Champion.