Past Supercross Champions From 1974 To 2019

Supercross champions across the decades.

With the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross well underway, we take a moment to reflect on those who have won the series in the past, starting with Pierre Karsmakers in 1974 and ending with Cooper Webb’s latest claim in 2019.

Pierre Karsmakers: Supercross Champion in 1974

Here, Pierre Karsmakers (left) poses with mechanic Bill Buchka.
Here, Pierre Karsmakers (left) poses with mechanic Bill Buchka.Motorcyclist Archives

Pierre Karsmakers was the first racer to claim the Supercross championship title in 1974. According to the AMA Motorcycle Museum, Karsmakers, aboard his Yamaha, took the Supercross title with a win at Daytona, a runner-up finish in Houston, and a fourth place finish in LA. In a 2014 Cycle World article, Karsmakers stated, “Supercross races are more like sprints… You have to leave the start gate at 100 percent and stay 100 percent committed until the checkered flag. That’s different from outdoors, where the races last longer, and they’re hotter or muddier. We were trained very well physically, but we had to conserve our energy during the race to be able to make the difference in the last 10 minutes. With Supercross, you can’t do that. You have to go full on, and you have to have really quick reflexes. I knew that I had to adjust my training by doing more intervals, rather than endurance training.” The Dutchman was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2014.

Gary Semics: 500cc Supercross Champion in 1974

As previously covered, Gary believes this photo was taken in 1974 at Lexington, Ohio, of him racing his open class factory Husqvarna.
As previously covered, Gary believes this photo was taken in 1974 at Lexington, Ohio, of him racing his open class factory Husqvarna.Veronica Semics

Gary Semics, a Lisbon, Ohio, man, claimed the 500cc Supercross title in 1974 on his Husqvarna. In asking Semics what challenges he had to overcome during his Supercross experience, he said, “One of the biggest challenges to overcome was getting used to racing on a tight SX track. We didn’t have any similar tracks to practice on, as we always practiced and raced on outdoor tracks.” Out of curiosity we asked him if he had any particular racer he was rooting for this 2020 season and he responded, “I don’t have a favorite SX rider, as I admire most all of them. I think anyone who consistently places in the top 10 is a pretty darn good rider.” Since his victory and eventual retirement in 1985, Semics started Semics Schools, where he creates motocross techniques/training videos and DVDs and teaches motocross group schools or private lessons.

Jimmy Ellis: Supercross Champion in 1975

Connecticut man, Jimmy “Captain Cobalt” Ellis, from the March 1979 issue of Cycle World.
Connecticut man, Jimmy “Captain Cobalt” Ellis, from the March 1979 issue of Cycle World.John Ulrich

According to the AMA Hall of Fame, 2012 inductee Jimmy Ellis was born in October 1955 in Middletown, Connecticut. He took on the other racers in the four-round 125cc Supercross series where he swept the final win at the Los Angeles Coliseum. In reflection of that event he stated, “The LA race was certainly one of the biggest races of my life… I knew I could win and was quite confident. And my bike was very quick. That track was a very fast layout, and it suited the bike well.” Ellis was the first to win the series aboard a Can-Am. After the 1977 season he made the switch to Honda.

Steve Stackable: 500cc Supercross Champion in 1975

Steve Stackable (bottom right) took on the “racing or organized mayhem” at the 1977 Superbowl in the Los Angeles Coliseum to finish his Maico in a respectable third place.
Steve Stackable (bottom right) took on the “racing or organized mayhem” at the 1977 Superbowl in the Los Angeles Coliseum to finish his Maico in a respectable third place.Cycle World Archives, October 1977

Representing the Lone Star State is Steve “Stack” Stackable. Stackable dominated the 500cc classes by winning prestigious races including the Daytona Supercross and Unadilla National Motocross, covers a Cycle News article. Throughout his career he raced for Maico, Suzuki, and Kawasaki, and eventually retired in 1982. His success was further recognized at the Houston Supercross on April 6, 2013, where he was honored by the Legends and Heroes of Motocross group for his contributions to the sport. Today, Stackable is still the only Texan to claim the Supercross title.

Jim Weinert: Supercross Champion in 1976

Cycle World’s March 1974 coverage on the Trans-AMA races depicts Brad Lackey (top) and Jim Weinert (bottom). As the caption states, Weinert “made history when he took first overall in the Houston, Texas, round, which was cleverly disguised as a mud bath. Jim broke his collarbone the succeeding week on a Phoenix whoop-de-doo.”
Cycle World’s March 1974 coverage on the Trans-AMA races depicts Brad Lackey (top) and Jim Weinert (bottom). As the caption states, Weinert “made history when he took first overall in the Houston, Texas, round, which was cleverly disguised as a mud bath. Jim broke his collarbone the succeeding week on a Phoenix whoop-de-doo.”Cycle World Archives, March 1974

In the July 1975 issue of Cycle World, Weinert versus Karsmakers was “another classic” battling pair beside the dueling duo of Steve Stackable and Tony DiStefano. Further, the Karsmakers/Weinert rivalry even went as far as pay, detailed by the question Cycle World asked in an interview with Karsmakers: “Jim Weinert, a strong racing rival of yours and also your next door neighbor, has said publicly that it is ridiculous to pay a motocrosser the kind of money you’re getting. He says it will hurt the sport more than help it.” In 1976, however, Weinert was the one to claim the championship of the 1976 Supercross series. Jimmy Weinert was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.

Bob Hannah: Supercross Champion in 1977, 1978, 1979

Bob Hannah was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Bob Hannah was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.Courtesy of Matrix Concepts

Although Bob Hannah started riding when he was 8, he only began racing at 18. His versatility as a racer and success in 125cc, 250cc, and 500cc Nationals, Supercross, and Trans-AMA arguably make him “one of the greatest American motocross racers of all time,” as the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame profile states. In 2015, we checked in on Bob “Hurricane” Hannah who said, in “[19]77 I won Supercross on a stock [Yamaha 250] bike and the reason why was because the works bike was not up to par. It was a little lighter and tricker, but not working as well. We modified the production bike and rode it all year.” After his win in ’77, Hannah went on to go on a three-year winning spree, claiming the Supercross championship in ’78 and ’79. After his season in 1979, Hannah had a nearly career-ending waterskiing accident that resulted in a badly broken leg, as we recapped in a 2018 DR article. He recovered, however, and continued on though he missed the complete 1980 season. Like Jim Weinert, he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.

Mike Bell: Supercross Champion in 1980

Astride his Yamaha, Mike Bell (39) battles against David Taylor in the 1979 Supercross at Seattle’s Kingdome.
Astride his Yamaha, Mike Bell (39) battles against David Taylor in the 1979 Supercross at Seattle’s Kingdome.Steve Tiggemann

Leading the next decade of Supercross champions is Mike Bell. Like Hannah, Bell started racing later, at 14, however that didn’t stop him from gathering 20 total wins across AMA and Trans-AMA nationals, representing Yamaha throughout his professional career. Winning the Supercross was one of his career highlights according to his quote to the AMA Hall of Fame. After claiming the 1980 SX title, the Southern California rider saw success by winning Europe’s first Supercross at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, Holland, according to the December 1981 issue of Cycle World. He retired in 1983 and was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2001.

Mark Barnett: Supercross Champion in 1981

Here is the USA team at the 1983 Motocross des Nations in Angreau, Belgium, on September 4, 1983. 1981 Supercross champ Mark Barnett (front left) sits beside fellow Supercross champions David Bailey (front right) and Jeff Ward (back left).
Here is the USA team at the 1983 Motocross des Nations in Angreau, Belgium, on September 4, 1983. 1981 Supercross champ Mark Barnett (front left) sits beside fellow Supercross champions David Bailey (front right) and Jeff Ward (back left).Kinney Jones

Mark “The Bomber” Barnett was the Supercross champion in 1981. He went on to race on the successful US team of the 1983 Motocross des Nations. Another notable tidbit of his career was that he was the first racer to sign a $1 million contract, which was with Suzuki in 1981. The Bomber was also known for his track building company, Bomber Built Tracks, building private tracks for top current racers such as Chad Reed, Andrew Short, Justin Barcia, Ryan Dungey, and more as detailed in a Racer X interview from 2013. Barnett was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2001.

Donnie Hansen: Supercross Champion in 1982

Photographer Paul Buckley on taking this shot of Hansen at Southwick: “True to his name Donnie ‘Holeshot’ Hansen grabs the lead so he's the first guy by me, nice and clean, click, got it, I hoped, wouldn't find out till Monday when I developed the film.”
Photographer Paul Buckley on taking this shot of Hansen at Southwick: “True to his name Donnie ‘Holeshot’ Hansen grabs the lead so he's the first guy by me, nice and clean, click, got it, I hoped, wouldn't find out till Monday when I developed the film.”Paul Buckley

Donnie “Holeshot” Hansen was one of the first to win Supercross for Honda, as quoted in the archived Dirt Rider article. In addition to being a Supercross champion, Hansen also claims a AMA National and Motocross des Nations championship. Now Hansen shares his motocross and Supercross knowledge with pros like Dungey, Roczen, Villopoto, and more including his son Josh Hansen. You can find more information about the Donnie Hansen Motocross Academy here.

David Bailey: Supercross Champion in 1983

David Bailey was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
David Bailey was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.Courtesy of JT Racing USA

David Bailey won multiple championships throughout his career and also led the US team to MXoN success. A crash during practice prior to the 1987 SX led to a paralyzing spinal cord injury, ending his career prematurely. By the time Bailey’s racing career came to an early end he “was third on the all-time AMA Supercross win list with 12 victories and fourth on the combined Supercross/motocross all-time win list with a total of 30 national victories. He was also a member of five winning US Motocross des Nations teams” describes the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. Dirt Rider’s interview of the champion in 2017 revealed not only who Bailey was rooting for during the ’17 season, but also his thoughts on trimming the Supercross series down to just the 450 class, “SX in my opinion should simply be the best of the best!”

Johnny O’Mara: Supercross Champion in 1984

Johnny O’Mara felt that his win at the USGP in Ohio helped him get the factory Honda ride in 1981.
Johnny O’Mara felt that his win at the USGP in Ohio helped him get the factory Honda ride in 1981.Courtesy of Honda

Johnny “The O’Show” O’Mara earned his nickname after winning the Supercross series. His additional success in the four winning teams of Motocross des Nations in 1981, ’82, ’84, and ’86 further solidified his success as a racer. O’Mara later went on to advise the young Ricky Carmichael, humbly stating, “I take a lot of satisfaction in being a small part of what Ricky’s been able to accomplish” (quoting from AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame). Scrolling through his Instagram page you will find it filled with more than just O’Mara’s passion for motocross, he is also an avid bicyclist.

Jeff Ward: Supercross Champion in 1985, 1987

Jeff Ward is a jack of all trades. Motocross, flat track, bicycle, and car, Ward has raced them all.
Jeff Ward is a jack of all trades. Motocross, flat track, bicycle, and car, Ward has raced them all.Chris Tedesco

Jeff Ward started out racing flat tracks and TTs as a youngster then gradually moved to motocross, he said prior to his AFT Singles stint in 2019. With racing roots like these it’s no surprise he went on to claim the Supercross title in 1985 and 1987. Further, he won a total of 56 AMA nationals and was part of seven winning US Motocross des Nations teams, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame records. His racing résumé doesn’t end there either. He also rides bicycles and competed in the Race Across America with a four-man team and just did a 12-hour time trial of 217 miles in 12 hours, as discussed in a Motorcyclist interview. His racing doesn’t even stop at two wheels, he takes on four as well. ”I would say the Indy racing was probably my biggest thing, the Indy 500,” Ward stated later in the interview. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.

Ricky Johnson: Supercross Champion in 1986, 1988

Ricky Johnson expanded his racing repertoire after his retirement with the TORCS series.
Ricky Johnson expanded his racing repertoire after his retirement with the TORCS series.Dirt Rider Archives

In the ’80s Ricky Johnson was a member of four winning Motocross des Nations teams and won seven AMA national championships. He also competed in the United States Grand Prix during the late ’80s. Johnson totaled an amazing 61 AMA national wins and earned championships in AMA Supercross and both 250cc and 500cc motocross, as his Hall of Fame bio states. Johnson took to four wheels as well with the TORCS series and claimed the Pro 2 champion and Pro 4 champion title in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Like many of the Supercross champs listed, he was also inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.

Jeff Stanton: Supercross Champion in 1989, 1990, 1992

Jeff Stanton was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.
Jeff Stanton was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.Shan Moore

Michigan man Jeff Stanton is considered one of the “hardest-working riders in the history of the sport” (AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame) and his hard work did pay off with a total tally of 37 national wins combining victories in AMA Supercross as well as AMA 250cc and 500cc motocross. Back in 2015 Stanton rode in the Jack Pine National Enduro and often trail rode with his sons and nephews according to our coverage.

Jean-Michel Bayle: Supercross Champion in 1991

Jean-Michel Bayle has proven his two-wheel domination on both dirt and street.
Jean-Michel Bayle has proven his two-wheel domination on both dirt and street.Cycle World Archives

Jean-Michel Bayle was born in Manosque, France. His earlier racing history is decorated with success in the 1982 Provence Championship, French National 125cc Motocross Championship, World 125cc Championship, and French 250cc Supercross, to name a few. To further prove his racing prowess abroad, however, he made the move to the United States, which he covered in a Cycle World interview: “At my time, everybody knew that the level of the American riders was higher. They were doing better in Supercross and motocross. I was winning in the World Championship, but after clinching the 125 and 250 titles, I decided to move to America to show the world what I was able to do. I wanted to win also there.” After all of his success on the dirt he would eventually switch to roadracing in 1993 to further round out his domination of two wheels.

Jeremy McGrath: Supercross Champion in 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000

Before setting his sights on motocross, Jeremy McGrath competed in BMX racing.
Before setting his sights on motocross, Jeremy McGrath competed in BMX racing.Brown Dog Wilson

After garnering seven, nearly consecutive Supercross championships it should come as no surprise that Jeremy McGrath was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2003. His seven-year Supercross streak was only broken in 1997 by Jeff Emig. During his reign as the “King of Supercross,” McGrath was also a team member of the 1993 and 1996 winning teams at the Motocross des Nations. When you pass a former Supercross champ during a round of Supercross, you get noticed, and that is what McGrath did when he passed Jeff Stanton on January 23, 1993, in Anaheim, California. This is considered his “major breakthrough race” according to the Hall of Fame. McGrath is also credited with many broken records in the series including 72 career victories, a single-season record of 14 Supercross wins, and the longest winning streak (13), to name a few. As you may have seen in the past, McGrath also jumped in as Guest Editor for our Dirt Rider November 2015 issue.

Jeff Emig: Supercross Champion in 1997

In 2016, Jeff Emig was named as the Husqvarna brand ambassador.
In 2016, Jeff Emig was named as the Husqvarna brand ambassador.Courtesy of Husqvarna

Jeff Emig started making a name for himself in amateur racing and would eventually gain a huge fan following who gave him the nickname “Fro” (AMA Hall of Fame). He earned his first AMA National win in 1992 and then was brought on to the US team for Motocross des Nations. In total, he joined Team USA six times for the Motocross des Nations throughout his career. It was in 1997 when he claimed his Supercross championship title. Emig might be known for disrupting McGrath’s Supercross win streak (and having some memorable battles with the champion as well), and claimed the title in 1997, but his voice might also be recognizable since he was a commentator for motocross and Supercross for years as well.

Ricky Carmichael: Supercross Champion in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2005, 2006

In addition to his staggering amount of wins, Carmichael was also one of only two riders in history to have an undefeated season in AMA motocross. He accomplished this three times: 2002, 2004, and 2005, the AMA Hall of Fame records.
In addition to his staggering amount of wins, Carmichael was also one of only two riders in history to have an undefeated season in AMA motocross. He accomplished this three times: 2002, 2004, and 2005, the AMA Hall of Fame records.Derek Garcia

Ricky Carmichael’s nickname speaks for itself. Known as the “G.O.A.T.” (Greatest Of All Time), his records warrant the title. These include: a combined 150 pro overall wins, 72 AMA MX overalls, 48 AMA Supercross main events, 26 AMA Motocross Lites overalls, and 12 AMA Supercross Lites main events. Dirt Rider said, “Carmichael is the Sam’s Club of motocross—everything he does comes in bulk, and there’s never been a better bargain. ‘Ha! I never really thought about that… I think the sponsors are getting a good deal,’ Carmichael said when asked if he considers himself a bargain to his sponsors.” The key to all that success, Carmichael says, was focus throughout all parts of racing, not just at the track (AMA Hall of Fame). He was inducted into the Hall in 2013.

Chad Reed: Supercross Champion in 2004, 2008

In addition to claiming his AMA Supercross championships, Australia-born Chad Reed claimed multiple Australian SX champion titles throughout his career.
In addition to claiming his AMA Supercross championships, Australia-born Chad Reed claimed multiple Australian SX champion titles throughout his career.Shan Moore

According to Fox Racing’s rider bio, Australian Chad Reed moved to Europe in 2001 to battle it out in the FIM 250cc MX World Championship where he “became the first Australian to ever win an MXGP that year and would eventually finish up his rookie MXGP Championship campaign in second place.” Later he would engage in Supercross battles with greats like Jeremy McGrath and Ricky Carmichael. He claimed his own Supercross titles in 2004 and 2008. Reed was the owner of his own race team back in 2010, which was unfortunately closed in 2015, where in an official statement on the closure Reed said, “On the outside we were great, but on the inside the stress and cost of wearing both the team owner and the rider hats were taking a toll.” In 2016, he re-signed with Yamaha.

James Stewart: Supercross Champion in 2007, 2009

James Stewart is often called “the fastest man on the planet,” as documented by a Suzuki press release.
James Stewart is often called “the fastest man on the planet,” as documented by a Suzuki press release.Shan Moore

James Stewart has raced in series like Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship, Monster Energy AMA Supercross, and Red Bull Straight Rhythm. He rode for Kawasaki for 15 years until switching to Yamaha in 2009. In 2012, Stewart signed with Suzuki. As detailed in past Suzuki coverage, Stewart’s accomplishments include: six AMA championships including two AMA Supercross titles, and a perfect-season AMA Pro Motocross championship. He also has an FIM World Supercross Championship as well as two Motocross des Nations titles to his credit.

Ryan Dungey: Supercross Champion in 2010, 2015, 2016, 2017

In 2015 and 2016, Dungey won the ESPY Award for Best Male Action Sports Athlete.
In 2015 and 2016, Dungey won the ESPY Award for Best Male Action Sports Athlete.Photo by Shan Moore

As DR covered previously, Minnesotan Ryan Dungey captured a total of nine AMA Supercross and Motocross championships, including four AMA 450SX titles (2017, 2016, 2015, 2010), three AMA 450 Class MX titles (2015, 2012, 2010), an AMA West Coast SX Lites title (2009), and an AMA 250 Class MX title (2009). Additionally, Dungey was a vital part of the US Team’s success in 2009, 2010, and 2011 to bring home three Motocross des Nations championships. In 2017, Dungey announced his retirement. Now, his next chapter consists of being part owner of the Geico Honda Racing Team as Motocross Action covers.

Ryan Villopoto: Supercross Champion in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014

Although he retired from professional racing back in 2015, Ryan Villopoto has been active in the industry since.
Although he retired from professional racing back in 2015, Ryan Villopoto has been active in the industry since.Sean Klinger

Ryan “RV2” Villopoto was a longtime Kawasaki rider (since the age of 14) and spent his career up until 2017 with Team Green, the racing portion of which involved his 10 AMA Supercross and Motocross championships. He retired from racing in 2015. In 2018, he joined Yamaha, where his role, as he put it in our interview, was “not ‘professional racer’ but on our schedule are a few flat-track races, the hooligan deals, Sturgis is one of them, Huntington Beach is one of them—so just [doing] some really rad events that I’ve wanted to do and Yamaha wanted to support that.”

Jason Anderson: Supercross Champion in 2018

Jason Anderson won his Supercross Championship in 2018. Does he have what it takes to claim 2020?
Jason Anderson won his Supercross Championship in 2018. Does he have what it takes to claim 2020?Brown Dog Wilson

Jason Anderson is an Edgewood, New Mexico, native who claimed the 2018 Supercross Championship and continues to race in Supercross and motocross. After he completed the 2018 Las Vegas main in fifth place, he reflected that, “Today was really stressful, but I feel like I handled it really well and came out with the championship. I’m so excited. We put our whole lives into this, we’ve been riding dirt bikes for so long, and to win this championship, me and my team, it’s the most surreal moment of my life up to this point.” You can currently catch him racing in the 2020 Supercross series with Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing. Come May, he will be riding again for the factory Husqvarna team in the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. So his list of achievements can still grow.

Cooper Webb: Supercross Champion in 2019

Cooper Webb returns in 2020 to defend his title.
Cooper Webb returns in 2020 to defend his title.Brown Dog Wilson

Cooper Webb is the most recent champion to claim the Supercross championship title. In our final reports of the Las Vegas round, Webb rode mistake-free to finish third in the main, garnering him enough points to conclude the series with the 2019 title. Further stating that, “It’s been an incredible journey… It’s a dream come true since I was a little kid. I never thought I’d be a 450 champion, that’s for sure, but you’ve just got to dream at something, and this is what we did, and now we did it. It’s an incredible feeling.” He has seen success at a young age, more specifically, by winning his first amateur national championship at the age of 6, according to his SX profile. Later, in 2010, he was AMA Youth Motocrosser of the Year. In 2015 and 2016, he was 250SX Western Regional Champion. You can still catch Cooper Webb racing in Supercross with the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing team in 2020.