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Ep. #14 When We Were Kings: Team USA wins the 1981 Trophée & Motocross des Nations

By Brett Smith

Forty years ago a quartet of young Americans traveled to Europe and turned the World Motocross community on its head. Danny LaPorte, Chuck Sun, Donnie Hansen and Johnny O’Mara won the Trophée des Nations (250) on Sept. 6, 1981 in Lommel, Belgium and then the Motocross des Nations (500) a week later in West Germany.

Episode #14 is a special collaboration between Racer X Illustrated and We Went Fast. “When We Were Kings”, was an article that ran in the September/October 1998 issue of Racer X Illustrated. Yes, 1998, when Racer X was in its first year as a full color glossy and only printing 6 times a year. “When We Were Kings” is the story behind how the team was formed and how they pulled off the most stunning upset in motocross history.

Team USA 1981 Mockup
“Team USA Shocks the World” is available as a 12×16-in. print. Click the photo to visit the product page.

Here’s a brief synopsis if you’re not already familiar: In 1981, for the third year in a row, the AMA wasn’t even going to send a team. Then a magazine editor named Dick Miller stepped in to take over the organizing efforts and whipped up interest. The man literally held bake sale-style events to raise money. 

Winning one of the events would have been massive. Winning both was shocking. Be sure leave a review and rating and share this show with a friend.

And if you find this story inspiring, you’ll love the new print available at The newest art collaboration between Tim Glasspool and We Went Fast pays homage to the 1981 Team USA quartet who brought home America’s first victory at the Trophee and Motocross des Nations. It’s available at Or click the photo above.