Throwback Thursday | The Greatest Supercross in History!

The Rose Bowl’s football “gridiron” is transformed to accommodate two-wheel racing machines which became the greatest Supercross race in history

PHOTO: Getty Images | News | Jeff Ward finishes ahead of rival Broc Glover – the closest margin of victory for a championship in motorcycle racing history

The NFL’s Super Bowl XIV was held at the Rose Bowl on January 20, 1980, between the Los Angeles Rams and Pittsburg Steelers. Pittsburgh beat L.A. 31-19 for their second straight NFL Championship.

However, did you know the Rose Bowl was host to the greatest event in motorsports history? It took place five years later. Not on two legs and feet, but two wheels and knobby tires.

PHOTO: Pasadena Museum of History | News | Preparations for the last Supercross race of the season (1985)
PHOTO: Pasadena Museum of History | News | Supercross track at the Rose Bowl: hairpin turns, double jumps, and whoop-de-dos (1985)

First, a confession, I once raced motocross professionally back in the day. Cool beans, right?

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I even raced in the finals of the 1976 High School Motocross Championship at Anaheim Stadium. The winner of that race is the runner-up of an event that still reverberates in the annals of motor sports.

PHOTO: Motocross Action | News | Magazine advertisement – Jeff Ward 1985 Supercross Champion

On August 17, 1985, four racers had a chance to win the Supercross series during the final race at the Rose Bowl. Eleven series events and a total 276 laps all came down to one last 12-lap race. The main event took place under the lights.

Jeff Ward defeated Broc Glover by a bike length winning the series championship by the slimmest margin in supercross history.

Throwback Thursday is written and produced by Rick Thomas


Rick Thomas
Author Rick Thomas is the former museum curator and vice-chair of education for the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation. He served on the South Pasadena Natural Resources Commission, helping to maintain a strict policy protecting the city’s great old-growth trees. Using touchstone photographs from his own collection—one of the San Gabriel Valley’s largest accumulations of historical images and artifacts—as well as national, state, and local historical archives, Thomas provides a window to his city’s past and an understanding of why its preservation is so important.