The Madness Behind The Olympics Of Motocross

Words and Photography: Eric Shirk

We get behind the scenes of the wildest motocross event on the planet.

Nestled in the hills of Maggiora, Italy lies Maggiora Park: home of the 2016 Motocross of Nations. Countries from around the world send teams of three to represent their homeland and compete in what is the olympics of motocross. With the riders come droves of passionate fans and at times it’s hard to tell if the fans are there for the racing or the lifestyle. We got behind the scenes of this year’s rowdiest moments at the Motocross of Nations - here is what happened.

National Pride

The theme of the Motocross of Nations is simple: national pride. That doesn’t mean just holding out a flag or wearing your colors; it means being ready to dress up, down, and sideways. The Irish bring their game every year: green suits, orange beards, and enough four-leaf clovers to safely walk under a ladder while holding a black cat. Anything goes, for the flag.

Flagged Fog

When national pride begins to take over, creativity quickly emerges. Seemingly stereotypical outfits still reign supreme as a choice way for man to represent country. However, a smoke bomb is a sure-fire way to shut out any opposing countries’ national pride. Thanks to the Italian fans in the bottom right corner, this photo now screams “Forza Italia!”

White Noise

The fans, the lifestyle and the personality of Motocross of Nations are fascinating. At times, it’s hard to even focus on the amazing racing happening on the track. While the sights are incredible, it’s the sound that’s most captivating. From sun up to sun down, there is immense noise. It’s the sound of 100,000 individuals traveling far and wide to do whatever it takes to support their country. The man in the above image was captured during one of many camera-induced riots caused throughout the course of the weekend. If we pulled a camera out in the crowd, hell would immediately break loose.

Hometown Fans

When arriving in Maggiora, we knew that the Italian fans were going to be insane. Each year as the FIM, the Motocross of Nations governing body, announces the race’s host country, hometown fans take special initiative to show the rest of the world how hard they can get down. And of course, how much they support their home country.

The Invasion

While the Italian fans seemed to have their home country on lockdown, it was this group of French fans that seemed to have another goal in mind. Being that Team France had won the MXoN the past two years, these French fans had arrived in Maggiora for one reason only: to conquer. Team France took the lead on the first day and this group marched through the professional pits chanting the French national anthem.

Full Steam A-Head

As one might imagine, nightlife at the Motocross of Nations is completely out of hand. Circular minibike tracks marked by porta-potties, motorcycles engulfed in flames and enough chainsaws to excite any lumberjack can be found after-hours in the field behind the track. One of the more popular attractions were circus-style games like the above punching bag strength machine. While strongman after strongman took his swings, this brave trooper took a different approach. After about three or four tries (and a bruise to the head) he was able to set off the “Winner” lights with his forehead. Needless to say, if you use your head as a weapon you’re bound to be a crowd favorite at Motocross of Nations. 

Hype Machines

No matter what the machine was, if it produced a sound that was high in decibels then it fit right in at the MXoN. Chainsaws, air horns, motorcycles (obviously), and any other obnoxiously loud machines were completely welcomed. Passionate individuals and loud noises go hand-in-hand. This group didn’t have a chainsaw, but their car motor with custom exhaust pipes designed to blow flames did the job. 

Throttle Therapy

While many fans had been adorning their chainsaws in dirt bike parts, few had their chainsaw wired to a hand throttle like this guy. From the retro facemask to the custom beer-equipped construction helmet, this guy was the whole package. The most interesting part about this interaction though was that not one word was exchanged. While hundreds of fans surrounded him as he revved his chainsaw and pretended to race the track, not one use of common language was found. The more throttle he gave the chainsaw, the louder the crowd erupted.

Fence Down

When Team Italy’s Antonio Cairoli took laps in front of his home country, the fans lost their minds. Not only did Cairoli lead laps, but the 31-year old grabbed an overall win in the Motocross GP class as well. Italy’s national motocross hero leading the biggest race of the year in front of the hometown crowd means a few fences might get taken down.

Crowd Control

After a grueling battle between the Netherlands, the U.S. and France, Team France came out on top. The French fans exploded the moment Team France rider Romain Febvre crossed the finish line and clinched the title. Wave after wave of fans charged the fences and barged their way onto the track.

Last Man Standing

At the end of the day, as the mist of flag-colored smoke bombs cleared, there were still fans left standing. Since 1947, nearly 40 countries have lined up to do battle at the Motocross of Nations. Millions of fans have traveled far and wide to get to a MXoN event in an attempt to support their country. The race will come and go, but the atmosphere, like the smoke, will linger long after the erruption.

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11 2016 The Red Bulletin

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