1987 Motocross de Nations, Unadilla, New York.
By Bill Petro
In 1987 the MX de Nations was held at the world famous Unadilla Race track up in mid state New York. It rained and it rained a lot. The Americans won it for the 7thstraight year and the Canadians endured frustrating mechanical problems while lacking recourses. What else is new? It maybe wasn’t the best race to remember, but if you ask anybody who was around then, they will tell you about their story whether they were there or not.Some events just stick in your mind.
When I first started considering this event I looked at my pictures and remembered that I would always have an easy day when it rained. There was not enough light to use the big heavy lenses so I could spend more time in the pits with all my friends. It might have been one of the better pit celebrations I’ve been in. The parties went on forever. The more people I talked to, the more stories I got. In fact all this new information was giving me a new perspective about my experience.
If you know anything about this racetrack, it’s a hilly challenging track that has seen pretty much every world champion compete on its turf. With sections of the track named “Gravity Cavity” or “Screw You”, it was the beast you boasted about slaying. I’ve never seen it with the kind of rain that fell in ’87 though.
The American team was the big story. Made up of Jeff Ward (500cc), Rick Johnson (250cc) and Bob Hannah (125cc), the pressure was on to do well on home turf after winning the last 6 years abroad. Also the fact that Veteran 125 cc champion Bob Hannah was chosen even though he hadn’t ridden a 125 in 5 years, didn’t help the matter. At the end of the day they proved they were the best again without question even under these terrible conditions.
The Canadian team however had the opposite experience. Even though the 2 top Canadians, Ross Pederson and Allan Dyck were not available, the team, made up of Glen Nicholson (500cc), Jeff Surwall (250cc) and Doug Hoover (125cc) put their heart and soul into it only to be pulled down with mechanical problems and some inferior equipment. Even with Nicholson and Hoover each scoring a top 10 finish in their class, the team could do no better than 12thoverall.For the organizers and riders, this was the event you wanted to forget. For the American Fans it was the party you never forgot.