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Gatorback

Gainesville, FL

Perhaps the Sunshine State’s most famous Motocross facility is Gatorback Cycle Park, located a few minutes west of Gainesville. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the track was the opening round of Pro Motocross, launching championship seasons and paving the way for season long rivalries. While the venue hasn’t hosted a national since 1997, Gatorback continues to host the prestigious Mini O’s event each winter, one of the biggest amateur races on the calendar.

Venues

Gatorback Cycle Park hosted its pro national from 1983 to 1997. Mixing hard pack soil with sandy elements, the track challenged racers to readjust to outdoor racing in the middle of the Supercross season. The venue hosted the season opening contest in all but its first year on the schedule, traditionally in early March.

Iconic Moments

Setting the stage for several seasons of Motocross, the Gatorback national hosted iconic moments such as a living legend’s return to the top and an incredible leap to secure one last win.

1990-Sweet Redemption

At the 1989 Gatorback National, Rick Johnson‘s career was nearly ended. Johnson collided with another rider and injured his right wrist, knocking him out of action and forcing him to endure a slow recovery process. He struggled in the first few rounds of the 1990 Supercross season, but a trip back to the venue that almost claimed his career was a good one. Johnson found his way to the front quickly, sitting in second behind Ronnie Tichenor early in the first moto. Johnson made quick work of the Suzuki rider and broke free, winning ahead of defending champion and teammate Jeff Stanton. After a fifth place start in the second moto, Johnson worked forward. Stanton and teenage sensation Damon Bradshaw battled up front for a while until Johnson and Stanton broke away from a fading (and injured) Bradshaw. The two Honda aces traded the lead for the remainder of the race, with Johnson claiming the victory and the overall in a photo finish.

Erik Kehoe and Jeremy McGrath
1993-Cleared For Takeoff

The 125 class started with a bang in the 1993 Motocross season, showcased by the legendary picture above. Despite claiming several wins and tearing up the scene in Supercross, questions surrounded the outdoor abilities of Jeremy McGrath. The future King of Supercross answered the call in the first moto, slipping by Mike Craig early and holding the Kawasaki rider off for the remainder of the moto. In the second race of the day, privateer Erik Kehoe stalked McGrath throughout the race. Kehoe finally made a bold move for the lead with three laps to go and would sail his Honda of Troy machine over the finish line, just beating McGrath for his first moto win in several years. McGrath won the overall, but Kehoe stole the headlines with his leap of faith and victory for privateers.

To read more about this famous photo and the events of the second moto, we encourage you to click here.

This interactive table details the all-time leaders at Gatorback. Who has the most starts, wins, podiums and points. Filter by class. On mobile, slide left to access more columns. To see all years of data, become a member of the We Went Fast Garage and help us continue (and expand) these unique views of the sport’s history.

This interactive table details the Gatorback winners history. Who won in what year and what round was this venue. Filter by class. On mobile, slide left to access more columns. To see all years of data, become a member of the We Went Fast Garage and help us continue (and expand) these unique views of the sport’s history.