1982: When We Were Kings

Larry Lawrence | December 18, 2012

John Mellencamp’s “Jack & Diane” and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” blared from the radio, “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” and “An Officer and a Gentleman” topped the movie box office and the space shuttle Columbia was taking its first operational flights. In motorcycling we were starting to come out of the early 1980s recession and unbelievable deals could be had on Japanese-built motorcycles that had stacked up in warehouses for months. It was about then you could buy a Honda FT500 Ascot new off the showroom floor for $995.

The weekly printed version of Cycle News was the fastest way you could find out what was going on in the racing world and the paper’s readers got a major dose of good news that year. It was a breakthrough year for Americans in World Championship racing. During a magical one-month span in August and September of 1982, three Americans, Brad Lackey, Bruce Penhall and Danny LaPorte, made major headlines when the trio brought home three World Championships.

The year ended on an unbelievable high note when Team USA proved its 1981 Motocross des Nations performance was no fluke. Punctuated by the greatest individual performance in the event’s history, Team USA won both the Trophee and Motocross des Nations for a second year in a row and began to build a win streak that would last for 13 years. With 1981 MXdN hero (and 1982 250 Supercross and 250 Motocross Champion) Donnie Hansen out with an injury, Danny “Magoo” Chandler saved the team with two epic rides, going 1-1 at the Trophee des Nations, and doing it again at the MXdN – and becoming the first rider in history to accomplish the feat.

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Larry Lawrence | Archives Editor

In addition to writing our Archives section on a weekly basis, Lawrence is another who is capable of covering any event we throw his way.