1984 Trevor Robinson wins the first-ever Pro-money Race in the UK – From the very start of racing in the UK in 1979 it wasn’t until March of 1984 before the first, official Pro-money event where the top riders lined-up for a chance to be part of British race history. The event was put on by Fred Hunter of Dronfield Demons and took place at the Derby Greyhound Stadium under the floodlights – classified as an open meeting, as the race was not eligible for National points in either UKBMX or NBMXA. A total of 650 riders turned out on a cold, wet March winter Sunday with the only absent, big names, being Andy Ruffell who was doing demos in Scotland and Tim March was a no show–rumored to have been recovering from a broken ankle or perhaps was still in the States training with Greg Hill and not ready to show his cards yet for the 84 season.
Not being a National event, it opened its doors for not only the top guys who would be racing the newly formed Superclass that coming season in UKBMX but also the top amateur riders in both NBMXA and UKBMX at the time had a chance to sign up and go for the money as well.
UKBMX number 1 in both the UK 15 and 16 age groups respectively, Craig Schofield and Martin Jose were in Derby for local sponsor, Raleigh, as was NBMXA British Champion GT’s, Scott Williams and Patterson’s, Gary O’Connor, who all had plans to stay with their amateur classes for the 84 season but wanted in on some prize money and experience with the big guys. Birmingham Wheel’s Big, Trev Robinson, was fresh back from winter training in the States with other notable top names from UKBMX including Mark White, Pat Robinson, Tony Slater, Pete Middleton and Jamie Vince.
On the NBMXA side you had Hutch’s, Simon Bailey, Cobra’s, Dale Goodwin and the 83 British Champion, Darren Bullock, from just up the road in Doncaster. By the time the gate dropped Sunday night for the final, Big Trevor Robinson powered from the outside lane to take the big win coupled with £100 in his pocket back to Birmingham. Scott Williams came in with an impressive 2nd earning £50 for his trouble with Faze 7’s, Tony Slater in 3rd and £25 for the final podium spot. It was cold, wet and dark by the time the money was handed out but at the same time, another piece of British BMX History had been made and for Trevor Robinson, it was the start of things to come in the money class and he would repeat BMX history once again a year later.
Runnymeade Rockets Track Chertsey Surrey during the mid 80s designed by British Champions, Tim O’Shea & Marcus Rich. At the time, this track was one of the more technical and challenging in the UK with a long, first straight and a peaky-first speed jump up to a 15ft double into the first, big wide-open 180 or “The Wall”, as it was called. The second straight, consisted of a technical step-up with the key to catch backside to set yourself up for another wide-open 180 into a tall camel jump. Last turn, another wide-open 180 turn into a long, last straight with a table-top followed by triples to the finish line.
Even though, now looking back and seeing this diagram, the track was basic but what I did like was the wide-open turns where so many moves were made. If a rider went on the inside to protect his/her line, the rider behind could rail the turns and make passes on the straights with better exit speed. The key to this track was to keep your momentum but with the wide-open turns, so many riders would dive, which kept it interesting. It’s good to see, Runnymeade, finally got an upgrade this year and that the racing is flourishing once again like it was in the 80s. The 1988 NBMXA National Finals itself has a lot of British race history, as the last ever, NBMXA National, before merging with UKBMX to form EBA in 1989. A rider on a Raleigh Grifter, ( Gary Morgan ), also made history racing and winning the 17 plus category and this event also marked the last Pro-Class event before the Pros merged back in with the Superclass and new era of racing for money in the UK for the future.
The first World Championships to hit European soil goes back to 1983 in Holland, which was under the IBMXF umbrella at the time before merging into the UCI that’s now known as the world governing body for all of cycling. The event was a huge success for its first outing – outside the US, held in Ponypark, Slagharen and organized by Gerrit Does and the Royal Dutch Cycling Federation (K.N.W.U.).
With over 1000 entries, 15,000 spectators over the 2 days of racing, and broadcasted on National TV, it was the first time the majority of the top riders from the the UK got to stack-up against the best riders in the World. Including riders from GT, Kuwahara, JMC and Hutch all U.S. Teams who had flown over for the race.
Even though it was a World Championships there were two classes offered to race; Expert and Juniors. With a lot of the UK’s top riders at the time who were still fairly new to the sport, they decided to go the Junior route qualifying though a couple of events put on in the UK prior to the Worlds.
Up to this time, no British rider had won a World Championships title in any class previously but by the time the event was over, Diamond Back’s Louis Mears, was crowned Britian’s first official and only World Champion at the time winning the 7 year old Juniors class and backed it up with a 3rd in the Open class against the top expert riders.
Louis received the star treatment once back in the UK, he was plastered all over the BMX Magazines, appeared in the mainstream media including many TV appearances with a segment at the Westway Track in London riding with all of the locals that was broadcasted for children’s TV.