First published in MX and Off Road magazine. Volume 15 Issue 02 – Summer 2016
I first met 1979 Canadian Open Class Motocross Champion Stan Currington in April of 1980 at an international motocross race in Thouars, France. Stan’s performance made me proud to be a Canadian. He was the consummate privateer, driving to the races alone in a Ford Transit van with one bike. Stan did all the wrenching, chores, training and he was competing in Grand Prix motocross races against the very best riders in the World during an era that is now considered the heyday of motocross.
In those days the factory teams had all the stars – Lackey, Noyce, Malherbe, De Coster, Pomerory, and Vromans all on works machinery, the privateers fought hard to compete against the big budget teams, and Currington was one of them. His best Grand Prix finish was 5th overall in a muddy German Grand Prix, the result is most likely the best finish for a Canadian in a World Championship motorcycle race held outside of North America.
Stan’s story is from humble beginnings, born in the UK, his family moved to Edmonton, Alberta when he was young, his father rode trials and as a youngster grew piecing mini-bikes together. He worked on the family honey bee hives for a summer, saved up for a 1974 CZ 250 and started his climb through the ranks of Senior then Expert. In 1976 Currington headed for the Canadian Nationals on Scona Cycle-supported Can Am but 2 seasons on the orange bikes ended in disappointment, late in 1978 he bought his own used Maico and promptly won the 1979 Canadian championship riding against the manufacturer-supported professionals such as Wally Levy, Tim Krough, Kevin Ferguson and an up and coming Ross Pederson. That season he spent the season living out of his van and competing on the fast tracks in the US that made up the Trans AM series, one Trans Am stop was at Copetown, Ontario where he finished second in the 500 class, a result that caught the eye of many motocross insiders.
If anything Stan Currington is not afraid to try something outside the box, when asked why he took the leap to race in Europe he replied, “ I didn’t like being in a rut, riding the same tracks against the same guys over and over, I always sought out new challenges.”
For the 1979 early season European races he shipped out for the continental motocross circus on a UK based shop-supported Suzuki RM 500. The shop owner of CGH Motorcross sponsored him, gave him a part-time job and a place to work on his bike. He spent the season riding 6 Grand Prixs and numerous lucrative international races in France, Belgium, Holland, Italy and Germany. In those days the prize money would barely cover the travel expenses and privateers would often show up with just enough to get to the start line then move on to the next race.
The European experience was a great learning experience for Stan, he recalls the life lessons,” I learned a lot about life racing in Europe, it was tough but fun. I met many of the famous riders of the era and got to ride some of the most famous tracks like the Citadel, in Namur, Belgium. It really was a thrilling time and I can remember it as clear as it was yesterday.”
During the 1970 and 80s motocross was changing rapidly, bikes went from short to long suspension travel and race team budgets were bountiful, Currington remembers seeing the first single shock Suzuki and the first Uni track rear suspension on Brad Lackey’s factory Kawasaki.
At the end of the 1980 season Stan returned to Canada for the 4-race National series, Forest Lawn Cycle in Edmonton but he got a late start leaving on the 4-day drive to Ulverton, Quebec with an untested bike. Tired from the drive he crashed hard in the first moto and the day ended with a DNF. His title slipped away from him, he completed the series in 6th. Still struggling to pay the bills Currington scaled his racing aspirations back.
The following year Yamaha Motor Canada offered him his best deal ever, bikes, parts and Yamabucks, contingency money. Stan spent the season in Ontario racing, conducting riding schools all the while living in his van parked behind Yamaha’s corporate headquarters.
The 1982 season was his last attempt at the Canadian Championship, Rick Sheren offered up an RM Motocross-supported Maico. After the 1982 season Currington decided to settle down back in Edmonton but he never stopped riding and still does to this day. Most recently he made the journey back to England for the World Veteran Championship at Farleigh Castle, where Stan and the Canadian team ended up in 6th place in 2014 and 2015 editions.
To this day I remember Stan Currington at Thouars in 1981 at the first European motocross race I witnessed, he battled hard with Jim Pomeroy who was a factory Beta rider at the time. After the race Stan was feeling flush with cash, he had a top five result, and bought dinner. In a recent telephone conversation he told me he had a financial set back the next day. He went through a red light in a small French village and a local plowed into the rear wheel of his Ford van, all of his winnings went to pay for the damage. As usual, the life of a privateer is a tough one, it seems you take one step forward and two steps back. The prize money would have been put to good use in a new stereo for his van, instead it paid for an old Citroen.
“ I learned all the necessary and valuable life lessons from racing especially from my time in Europe, I met all my friends through motorcycling, once a year we meet in Kamloops at the National and have a beer together. That makes it all worthwhile.” Recounts Currington fondly.