Garys, Ranked - Racer X Exhaust
I fear for the name Gary. In an age where everyone’s kids are unique sunflowers and can’t have a generic name, Gary isn’t going to be used very much anymore. Gary is not special, Gary is not unique, and it’s going to be extinct very soon, methinks. So, in order to pay homage to the name that encapsulates a shrug of the shoulders, we’ll count down the very best Garys to have ever raced pro SX/MX.
If you’d like to read about the very best Jeffs, then check this out.
Yeah, it was the very early days of motocross, but Gary Jones and his three 250 Class AMA Pro Motocross titles have to sit on top of this list, right? In 1973, Gary accumulated an amazing 1,445 points on the way to his second title. I don’t even know if this is true or possible or what the AMA was doing, but it says that right there in the Vault, bro. Gary won all three titles on different brands of bikes as well, so that’s both cool and weird. Gary’s brother Dwayne was also very good, and if we ever get around to doing a “Greatest Dwaynes” list, I’m positive he’ll be at the top.
Gary was a consistent finisher on the National scene for a long time, although he never won a title. Well, he won a 500SX title, so that’s something, and he also logged a second and a third in the 500 AMA Motocross Championship when 500s were, like, the shit. Gary also finished seventh in the ’82 FIM 500cc Motocross World Championship, which is also pretty cool because back then, that was a gnarly class. Semics was also one of the first guys to start teaching motocross schools of which I took, I think, three courses. Oh, and I also lived with Gary in Southern California for a couple of months in the early nineties, so I’m pretty biased. Semics is a good dude and the second-best Gary to ever have raced.
Speaking of schools, Bailey might’ve been the first to teach the art of riding a motorcycle to people. Bailey’s on this list for those schools, but he was also pretty good on a dirt bike. Two National wins in the early seventies and an Inter-AMA win against the Europeans are nothing to shake a stick at. I might’ve put him higher up this list, but he used telephone poles for whoops at the Daytona SX tracks he designed.
I’m telling you, people, there are just not that many Garys out there. Denton was a SoCal privateer for a long time with a best of a seventh in the 125 Class in AMA Pro Motocross in the early eighties. The reason he’s here, though, is that he was an early racer of quads and became the man on four wheels for many years and crushed it on that circuit. (Weege made me put him on this list, by the way.) Denton gets bonus points because he came up to Winnipeg for an arenacross when I was a kid and I took him riding before the race—well, my mom was driving. There was this big gap over a creek that only the very best dudes did back then (if I went there now, it would probably be 20 feet, but back in ’85, it was 100) and Gary was airing it out on his quad! That was cool.
Chaplin was a factory Honda rider for a year or two when Honda seemed to have ten factory dudes. He was also very fast and ended up finishing in the top ten three different times in Nationals. And remember when I said I lived with Semics in the early ‘90s in SoCal? I believe the house we lived in was owned by Chaplin. How about that?
Bowman, like Denton, was a SoCal privateer racing the 125 Class and he also finished the series in top ten. The difference is that Bowman did it in ’84 when RM125s were bad.
I remember that MXA always loved Ogden for some reason. He did finish in the top ten in one AMA Pro Motocross Championship, so there’s that. When I went to Google Ogden, the first thing that came up was an MXA blurb about him that went like this: “Gary Ogden was handsome, fast and gregarious…he just wasn’t lucky. Today, Gary is a LifeFlight helicopter pilot, but in the seventies, he was an up-and-coming AMA star. Gary suffered two career-damaging setbacks in the eighties. First, he broke his leg, and then, when it healed, he broke the same leg in the same spot the first time he went riding after getting the cast off. Second, Gary’s biggest win came at an AMA Pro Motocross support class race, but when he stopped before the finish line to let his mechanic ride under the checkered flag with him, he was disqualified by the AMA for endangering a spectator.”
Honorable Mention: Gary Sutherlin
This is a moto list but Sutherlin, an ex-motocrosser, won a couple of off-road series this past year, so there’s that. Perhaps the best Gary in off-road?
There you have it, people. Not quite as much success with the Garys as with the Jeffs, but hey, we can’t all be Jeffs, you know?
LONG LIVE THE GARYS!