Top 5 AMA Riders of Each Decade

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4/17/2020 3:50 PM

I am sitting here “working from home” and there’s only so much I can do. I’ve been searching some classic races a bit and I watched 86 Anaheim, 90 Atlanta, and 96 St Louis, among others. Watching these older races got me thinking about how our sport, since it’s much smaller, doesn’t have a lot of great things dedicated to the history of the sport that we can easily see and readily available to the public. Older races are sporadic and hard to find for instance. The iconic races are usually there for awhile on YouTube before they’re removed, but not much else. Anyway, point being, it got me thinking about the top five riders from each decade.

I’m not sure any of us have anything better to do, so I wanted to hopefully get a good discussion going based on who you guys felt were the top five riders, in order, of each decade from the AMA side of things. Wanted to keep it AMA because I was looking for their skills indoors and out combined to be considered. Splitting it up by decade keeps it from being an all time argument and the what ifs of major equipment differences.

My first personal professional SX/MX memory was Jeff Stanton high fiving the crowd after his final professional race. Steele City 94 I think it was. Larocco went 1-1 that day. This obviously means I can’t do anything from the 80s or 70s other than look at record books. So, there’s bonus points if you can list your top five and give us detailed reasons why, and even better if you can give us a video of some sort. For instance in 20 years when people ask me about the 00s, I’ll say James Stewart is in the top five and show them 03 Budds Creek. If they ask about Dungey for the 10s, I’ll explain to him how the guy crashed about .0001% of the time and was rarely off the box and him out of the top five was unheard of. Etc. etc.

With all that being said, who are your top 5 riders of each decade. Rank them and try to give reasons why if you can.

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4/17/2020 4:45 PM

*Note: There is no 1-5 order, just 5 stellar riders being listed
70's
Roger Decoster
Marty Smith
Bob Hannah
Hekki Mikkola (sp?)
Gary Jones
80's
Johnny O' Mara
David Bailey
Mark Barnett
Rick Johnson
Jeff Ward
90's
Jeremy McGrath
Jeff Stanton
Jeff Emig
JMB
Ricky Carmichael
-He won 3 consecutive 125 outdoor titles on his way to even more dominance on the big bikes
00's
Ricky Carmichael
James Stewart
Chad Reed
Kevin Windham (even though he started in the mid-90's on the 125)
Grant Langston
10's
Ryan Villopoto
Ryan Dungey
Cooper Webb
Jason Anderson
Jeremy Martin
That's my list, and I'm sticking to it. 🍻

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4/17/2020 4:52 PM

I really started following motocross in the 80s but I'll list 70s riders anyway since I have read up on the history of mx and watched as much video as I can.

70s
1. Bob Hannah . Dominant speed in both MX and SX . He raised the bar going into the next decade.
2. Tony DiStefano.
3. Gary Jones
4. Marty Smith
5. Jimmy Weinert
I would have included Lackey but his priority was a world title .

80s
1. Rick Johnson. The fastest rider of the decade. Won his first national title on inferior equipment.
2. Jeff Ward . Titles in all 3 classes.
3. David Bailey. The smoothest most precise rider.
4. Broc Glover. 6 time national champ and winning a title on a YZ 490 against Bailey on his Honda.
5. Mark Barnett. Maybe a little underrated against those other guys because his national titles were on a 125 but also
a premier class SX champion.

90s
1. Jeremy McGrath. Who else ? His SX record speaks for itself. It took him a bit to get going outdoors but once he did
he was pretty dominant even though it was for a relatively brief time.
2. Jeff Emig. Overshadowed my MC but over his career was the better outdoor rider imo. Always rode for the mxdn
team when asked.
3. Jeff Stanton. 6 time champ and mxdn hero.
4. Ricky Carmichael. Yes the GOAT will be mentioned in two decades.
5. Mike LaRocco. There are plenty of other riders I could have put in this spot. It's a tough choice but I'm going with
the Rock.

2000s
1. Ricky Carmichael. Nuff said.
2. James Stewart. Maybe he didn't win as many titles as expected but no rider was more exciting to watch .
3. Chad Reed. Overshadowed to a degree by the above riders but a great champion nonetheless.
4. Ryan Villopoto. He'll be mentioned in the next decade also but his 2007 mxdn performance alone puts him on this
list.
5. Grant Langston. Won a couple titles due to injuries to James Stewart but hey he was the one who stepped up and
took advantage.

2010s
1. Ryan Villopoto. Tough one between him and Dungey but since he beat Dungey head to head more often than not
he gets the nod.
2. Ryan Dungey. Unfairly gets the careful and steady reputation in my opinion . He's up there on the wins list as well
as titles.
3. Eli Tomac. Three consecutive 450 titles in a row puts him in rare company.
4. Ken Roczen. His 2016 National title was one of the most dominant ever seen.
5. Cooper Webb . A 250 national title and a 450 SX title as an underdog gets him on my list.

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4/17/2020 6:57 PM

Harry_Gray wrote:

*Note: There is no 1-5 order, just 5 stellar riders being listed
70's
Roger Decoster
Marty Smith
Bob Hannah
Hekki Mikkola ...more

No Tomac?

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4/17/2020 6:58 PM

Bradshaw in the 90s

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4/17/2020 7:18 PM

ATKpilot99 wrote:

I really started following motocross in the 80s but I'll list 70s riders anyway since I have read up on the history of mx and ...more

Great list!

The Villopoto/Dungey argument is so hard and opinions are split 50/50 from the people I’ve talked to. It’s really the age old argument in all of sports. Do you value the guy who was slightly better head to head and missed a lot of time? (I.E. higher peak) Or do you value the guy who was 99% as good, much more durable, and had a much more consistent career? Argument goes both ways for sure.

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4/17/2020 7:27 PM

Harry_Gray wrote:

*Note: There is no 1-5 order, just 5 stellar riders being listed
70's
Roger Decoster
Marty Smith
Bob Hannah
Hekki Mikkola ...more

Wtf Martin and no tomac???... crazy talk

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4/17/2020 7:42 PM

Excaliburbmx wrote:

Bradshaw in the 90s

Man, he was awesome very early but he was eclipsed just as early.

Once he retired the first time... that was it.

The 90’s is all MC. He brought eyeballs and mainstream media like nobody else prior.

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4/17/2020 7:45 PM

mwssquad827 wrote:

Wtf Martin and no tomac???... crazy talk

Yeah, I'll own it; that one choice I kinda shit the bed on. Had a brain dump. Don't get me wrong, JMart is a great rider, but yes; Tomac should have been there. Really, once you brought it up; one could argue Roczen and Tomac should be on anyone's list for the 2010-2019 era. But I picked Jason Anderson, cause he did win a SX title on both displacements; although Roczen and Tomac has had better success outdoors. These lists can go 100 different ways.

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4/17/2020 7:46 PM

Excaliburbmx wrote:

No Tomac?

See my comment below.

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4/17/2020 8:17 PM

Because motocross careers are so short you almost have to break it down to 5 year intervals because the turnover is so often.

70-75: Jones, Smith, Distefeno, Karsmaker, Ellis
76-80: Hannah, Weinert, Glover, Bell, Howerton
81-85: Barnett, Bailey, Omara, Hansen, Ward
86-90: Johnson, Ward, Lechien, Stanton,
91-95: McGrath, Bayle, Bradshaw, Kiedrowski, Larocco
96-00: McGrath, Emig, Lusk, Carmichael, Henry
00-05: Carmichael, Reed, Stewart, Windham, Vuillimen
06-10: Carmichael, Reed, Stewart, Villopoto, Dungey
10-15: Villopoto, Dungey, Stewart, Tomac, Roczen
16-20: Tomac, Roczen, Webb, Anderson, Musquin

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