A new angle on the "All Time" discussion

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4/6/2020 11:49 AM

I don't need to remind anyone here that we cannot really compare riders from different eras. We can't truly know who is the fastest of all time because we cannot compare riders in their primes on the same equipment.

But what if we could?
Let's say you have a time machine and can transport any rider from one era to another, and race them at one track on the same day with equivalent equipment from the day. What happens then?

Assuming you give each rider some time but not a lot (a few weeks at most,) to acclimate to his new bike/track/era, here is what I think would happen:

Riders from the '90s would suffer comparably outdoors. The guys from the "Golden Age" just before trained harder (Ward, O'Mara, Bailey, Hannah,) and the guys from the RC era did as well. Even the riders from the '60s and '70s were tougher, as their machines required more strength and endurance to ride. In long-moto formats, the conditioning factor would come into play. For instance, Bob Hannah or Roger DeCoster would beat Jeremy McGrath or Jeff Emig outdoors on equivalent machinery, IMO.

Riders from the pre-evolution days would suffer just from not having the speed. Sure, they were fast, but the meaning of the word fast has changed. This would also be true of any '80s rider moving forward into the late '90s or early '00s, to a lesser extent. The fact that an '80s bike could handle so much more abuse than the ones before, and the fact that the speed of competition has risen since then would be detrimental to the riders from earlier eras. They would have to adjust. Even a lesser talent from today would probably beat a notable rider from the past on today's machinery, just from speed alone. Dean Wilson beats Brad Lackey, for instance. In other words, the speed of the race itself has gotten faster over the years.

"Hungry" riders would do well in any era. RC, DeCoster, Hannah, would rise to the top in any competition.

Current-day riders would have a hard time making pre-'80s bikes go fast. Jeffrey Herlings would get smoked by Heikki MIkkola on '70s bikes, for instance. Even if he could go faster, he would destroy his machine before the finish.

Let's hear some takes you have and discuss....








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Braaapin' aint easy.

4/6/2020 11:50 AM

PS - I'm thinking outdoor motocross here. Supercross would throw a whole other wrench into the equation.

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Braaapin' aint easy.

4/6/2020 12:17 PM

What about the "All Time Win List"? Back when Hannah was racing SX and MX there were far fewer races per year. Has anyone ever run the numbers on percentages of race wins per season? Who would move up and who would move down?

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4/6/2020 12:19 PM

What about the future?
Is it not part of time?

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4/6/2020 12:23 PM

RC vs Mark Barnett

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4/6/2020 12:26 PM

what about things you can compare over years? number of pull ups. fastest time in a mile running race. fastest 4 miles.

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4/6/2020 12:37 PM

I think Magoo on modern equipment would be a sight to behold.

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4/6/2020 12:40 PM

But would Hannah do the quad? He refused to do the triple.

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4/6/2020 12:52 PM

OK, so you guys have some valid points, but that's what this is about. Who would win between Mark Barnett and Steve Lamson in 2020 on 250fs?

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Braaapin' aint easy.

4/6/2020 12:57 PM

EngIceDave wrote:

What about the future?
Is it not part of time?

Sure, but since we don't know the names, we'll have to leave out the 2039 e-MX Champion. smile

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Braaapin' aint easy.

4/6/2020 1:00 PM

Falcon wrote:

OK, so you guys have some valid points, but that's what this is about. Who would win between Mark Barnett and Steve Lamson in 2020 on 250fs?

On a modern track with the tape measure leaps we've become accustomed to ? I'll take Lamson. At say Southwick it's tough to call . I'll still say Lamson. Hannah beats them both at the Wick.

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4/6/2020 1:08 PM

EngIceDave wrote:

What about the future?
Is it not part of time?

Falcon wrote:

Sure, but since we don't know the names, we'll have to leave out the 2039 e-MX Champion. smile

Then maybe folks should reconsider the use of the term "of all time"

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4/6/2020 1:09 PM

I hate the notion that 90s riders didn’t train hard just because one group of guys partied a lot.

Sorry, but guys like Kiedrowski, Henry, Lusk, Larocco, Alby, Hughes, Dowd, Landon and Stanton trained just as hard as guys in any other era.

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4/6/2020 1:11 PM

newmann wrote:

But would Hannah do the quad? He refused to do the triple.

How you mean?

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4/6/2020 1:15 PM

Matthes at one point broke all the riders down by win percentage, and Stew was ahead by a mile in SX, Ricky in MX of course.

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4/6/2020 1:20 PM

If you can choose a couple riders from any era and take their talent on equivalent gear and drop them into the '02 or '04 outdoor season, who would you think would have the best chance of stopping those RC sweeps? Hannah, Rick Johnson, DeCoster, etc. I know fans either love or hate Eli but the whole beast mode Tomac thing would have as good a chance as anyone....in history.

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4/6/2020 1:28 PM

visser62 wrote:

Matthes at one point broke all the riders down by win percentage, and Stew was ahead by a mile in SX, Ricky in MX of course.

Got a link? Would be an interesting read.

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4/6/2020 1:43 PM

Talent is talent, if Decoster or Hannah were born 94, they’d both be winning races right now.

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4/6/2020 2:19 PM

I've been watching a few "old" races from 1987/88 recently and it dawned on me - Larocco started as a Pro in the 125 class in 1988. He retired in 2006. The bike evolution in that 18 years was astounding. Yet, the whole time he was competitive. He won his last race in 2004 in SX. He finished 3rd OA in the 125SX series in 1988. I doubt many would place him on an "all time" list even with two national championships to his credit. Larocco probably started racing on air cooled minis. The suspension development was huge. Two-stroke for four. Steel frames to aluminum. The bikes he finished on were pretty close to what we have now with the exception of all the fuel injection.

Did anyone else race at that level with that much bike evolution? Maybe Hannah did from 1976 to 1989. Hannah had twin shock to mono shock. Seven inches of front suspension travel to 12"+. Spindly right side ups to upside downs. Air cooled to water cooled.

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4/6/2020 2:25 PM

UpTiTe wrote:

I hate the notion that 90s riders didn’t train hard just because one group of guys partied a lot.

Sorry, but guys like Kiedrowski, Henry, Lusk, Larocco, Alby, Hughes, Dowd, Landon and Stanton trained just as hard as guys in any other era.

I'll give you that, especially with Stanton, Dowd and Hughes. However, the training standard they had to live up to withers in comparison to the RC days, and I don't think it quite lives up to the standards that Ward and O'Mara were setting.

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Braaapin' aint easy.

4/6/2020 2:30 PM

rallendude wrote:

I've been watching a few "old" races from 1987/88 recently and it dawned on me - Larocco started as a Pro in the 125 class in 1988. He retired in 2006. The bike evolution in that 18 years was astounding. Yet, the whole time he was competitive. He won his last race in 2004 in SX. He finished 3rd OA in the 125SX series in 1988. I doubt many would place him on an "all time" list even with two national championships to his credit. Larocco probably started racing on air cooled minis. The suspension development was huge. Two-stroke for four. Steel frames to aluminum. The bikes he finished on were pretty close to what we have now with the exception of all the fuel injection.

Did anyone else race at that level with that much bike evolution? Maybe Hannah did from 1976 to 1989. Hannah had twin shock to mono shock. Seven inches of front suspension travel to 12"+. Spindly right side ups to upside downs. Air cooled to water cooled.

Roger DeCoster beginning his career on a CZ with 3 or so inches of travel and then winning both motos of the last race of his career on a pro link Honda .

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4/6/2020 3:26 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/6/2020 3:28 PM

This is an interesting debate.

Sports like baseball, basketball or even track and field have changed very few variables in a hundred years. Supercross and motocross on the other hand make very large changes every decade.

It does make several incomparable eras of the sport. I don’t think that it’s fair to compare any of them with the exception of maybe 2000-current

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4/6/2020 3:33 PM

I believe alot of past champions would rise to the level of competition no matter the era with time to get used to it. No doubt in my mind RJ, RC, Hannah, and Wardy would do whatever they had too to win no matter the era.

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4/6/2020 3:34 PM

Is MX possibly excluded from physical evolution?
Hard to get past that for me.
RC is the GOAT by a long shot. I believe every decade since the 70's have a few riders that would win against any crop.

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4/6/2020 3:59 PM

observeroffacts wrote:

This is an interesting debate.

Sports like baseball, basketball or even track and field have changed very few variables in a hundred years. Supercross and motocross on the other hand make very large changes every decade.

It does make several incomparable eras of the sport. I don’t think that it’s fair to compare any of them with the exception of maybe 2000-current

Right, which is why this is such an open debate. We'll never get any definitive answers, but it's fun to bench race.

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Braaapin' aint easy.

4/6/2020 4:32 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/6/2020 5:18 PM

Magoo. Here's why: there's a special ingredient, a gift, that only a few riders have possessed. It transcends skill, perseverance, determination, courage and desire. And when it comes to that "gift", Magoo had a far larger portion of it than anyone before or since. I watched him in awe at local NorCal races early in his career and knew I was witnessing history in the making. All of us that were there knew it.
Then, as a few years passed and he became well known, everyone could see it. Here's a quote from MXA's Jody Weisel: "I wasn’t in a group that believed that Magoo was the greatest racer that ever lived — instead, I thought he was the fastest rider that ever lived". That's an opinion from a guy not prone to making statements like that, and has been there since the beginning of our sport.
I believe that the best thing that ever happened to Magoo was riding for Honda under DeCoster's management. The magical results in 1982 showed the influence of that on Magoo. If not for the injuries (before the Paris crash) that slowed him down, resulting in his losing the Honda ride, he would have matured and tempered his wild nature. I believe that would have resulted in an unprecedented and untouchable championship record.
The quote from Jody Weisel states two distinct categories: greatest racer and fastest rider. In the former group, greatest racer, there have been a number of contenders: Carmichael, DeCoster, Hannah, McGrath, Stewart, Villopoto, Dungey, Mikkola, Stefan Everts, Johnson and Ward. In the case of the fastest rider, those with that special gift, Magoo stands way at the top of the list, followed by Tripes and Lechien. Maybe Bayle too. Joel Robert would be the only guy that might be near the top of both categories.
So, in any era, against any competition, Magoo would be my #1 pick. I wish we could get DeCoster to jump in on this thread, it would be illuminating to say the least. Maybe even surprising...

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4/6/2020 6:02 PM

If anyone thinks the top riders from any era, would not be competitive in another era, you need to stop day drinking.

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4/6/2020 6:38 PM

My theory is that it's not fair to the older guys to compare eras. I think that every generation progresses the sport enough that it would be impossible for the old guys to compete. That goes for them time traveling to the future, and the future guys time traveling to the past. Its too much of an advantage to have grown up riding on modern equipment, with modern riding techniques, and modern training regiment's (aldon baker etc). Every generation builds upon the previous and I don't think we ever really go backwards. The guys today run the same lap times for the full moto. They ride tracks that would take years for anyone to learn the obstacles, including themselves. I would argue that it's always easier to go backwards in time than forwards, in any sport. In baseball every pitcher can throw high 90s, and so many guys have insane power. We clearly haven't evolved as a species in a few decades, so a lot of that is just the progression of the sport in my opinion. Same goes for basketball and football too. I think the real fair argument would be: if you take a list of all time greats from every era (Roger, Hannah, Magoo, RC, RV, Herlings etc) and have them all grow up together in the same era, who wins then?

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4/6/2020 7:40 PM

TeeJay54 wrote:

Magoo. Here's why: there's a special ingredient, a gift, that only a few riders have possessed. It transcends skill, perseverance, determination, courage and desire. And when it comes to that "gift", Magoo had a far larger portion of it than anyone before or since. I watched him in awe at local NorCal races early in his career and knew I was witnessing history in the making. All of us that were there knew it.
Then, as a few years passed and he became well known, everyone could see it. Here's a quote from MXA's Jody Weisel: "I wasn’t in a group that believed that Magoo was the greatest racer that ever lived — instead, I thought he was the fastest rider that ever lived". That's an opinion from a guy not prone to making statements like that, and has been there since the beginning of our sport.
I believe that the best thing that ever happened to Magoo was riding for Honda under DeCoster's management. The magical results in 1982 showed the influence of that on Magoo. If not for the injuries (before the Paris crash) that slowed him down, resulting in his losing the Honda ride, he would have matured and tempered his wild nature. I believe that would have resulted in an unprecedented and untouchable championship record.
The quote from Jody Weisel states two distinct categories: greatest racer and fastest rider. In the former group, greatest racer, there have been a number of contenders: Carmichael, DeCoster, Hannah, McGrath, Stewart, Villopoto, Dungey, Mikkola, Stefan Everts, Johnson and Ward. In the case of the fastest rider, those with that special gift, Magoo stands way at the top of the list, followed by Tripes and Lechien. Maybe Bayle too. Joel Robert would be the only guy that might be near the top of both categories.
So, in any era, against any competition, Magoo would be my #1 pick. I wish we could get DeCoster to jump in on this thread, it would be illuminating to say the least. Maybe even surprising...

I have a very unpopular opinion of Magoo. I believe he was great for two weekends on two tracks that agreed with his style but overall he was just another top 5 guy who crashed spectacularly because he rode above his head to stay with the leaders.

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4/6/2020 7:49 PM

In a theoretical world where we could line them up with everything equal, here’s how the final standings would be. I can only rank guys I’ve seen. That’s only fair. So anyone before 95 won’t be ranked.

1. Carmichael

2. Reed

3. Villopoto

4. Roczen

5. Dungey

6. Emig

7. Windham

8. McGrath

9. Tomac

10. Stewart

The big one people here will scratch their heads on is Reed. But people forget how dominant he was in the mid 00s. 2-2 moto scores for 2nd overall, well ahead of 3rd, on numerous occasions. Just so happens that number 1 on this list was there with him. But a big key to that is he proved he wouldn’t push hard and crash even with Carmichael out front. Well after his MX prime, he was giving Dungey and Villopoto all they could handle.

9 and 10 people are going to think should be much higher. Amazing as they were/are and as exciting as they were/are to watch, they’re going to miss races due to injury. They’re gonna push the limits to beat this deep field and it’s gonna bite them. Mentally, that’s just their style.

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