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Who’s The World’s Most Famous Motocross Rider? Sorry – You’re Wrong.

Actually, Jeremy McGrath may still be the world’s most famous motocross racer (known primarily for Supercross, however). Quickly closing in on McGrath, and likely to overtake him, however, is young Travis Pastrana – just signed by the AMA Suzuki Motocross team for the year 2000.

Pastrana burst into the media spotlight by winning the X-Games Freestyle Motocross event in San Francisco last year, and celebrating by leaping into San Francisco Bay in front of fans and cameras – sparking controversy and creating huge headlines throughout the industry (and even in mainstream papers like USA Today).

Now Travis is doing the talk show circuit, beginning with David Letterman the other night (November 10). Pastrana, of course, has also won other freestyle events since the X-Games.

About a month and a half ago, we met Jeremy McGrath at Chili’s Restaurant in Temecula. McGrath spoke for 15 or 20 minutes with editor Dirck Edge in the parking lot of Chili’s about a number of things, including the freestyle motocross phenomena. Dirck said something like “You know, Jeremy, in another couple of years, four out of five kids going into a dealership to buy a dirt bike are going to be hard core freestyle fans – not motocross fans.” McGrath somewhat surprisingly agreed with this statement. I reminded McGrath that he’d been quoted in the press as being anti-freestyle. He said he really was not anti-freestyle, just unhappy with the way some of the freestyle competitors conducted themselves.

In any event, everyone (including McGrath) recognizes the powerful trend among young kids toward freestyle motocross rather than traditional racing.

What does this mean for older motocross riders and fans? Well, motocross and supercross will continue to flourish along with freestyle motocross. In fact, it probably means manufacturers will put even more effort and money into development of new motocross/supercross bikes, and that freestyle bikes will also be developed. What is a freestyle bike? A bike designed specifically to appeal to the freestyle rider. For example, a lightweight, 125cc frame with a 200cc motor might be ideal for a jump contestant (not to mention a vet racer). Suspension designs specifically tuned for jump take off and landings might also be incorporated into freestyle bikes.

In any event, if you don’t like freestyle motocross, baggy pants and seeing young kids get rich and famous without ever learning to race – too bad! Freestyle motocross is here to stay and its popularity will continue to grow at a phenomenal rate.

MD will try to post results from important freestyle events.