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Jaroslav Falta – The Legendary Story

With the Grand Prix of Czech Republic just a week away, we thought it might be worth looking at one of the most amazing stories in motocross history.

Jaroslav Falta is a former motocross racer from the former Czechoslovakia. As a member of the CZ factory racing team, Falta was one of the top motocross racers of the early 1970s in the F.I.M. 250cc Motocross World Championship.

Falta almost won the 1974 250cc world championship, however Russian riders used questionable tactics during the final race of the season to secure the title for Guennady Moisseev. The 250cc championship was a battle between Soviet KTM rider Moisseev and Falta which ended in controversy at the final race of the season. Moisseev won the first race of the season and took the overall victory at the season opening Spanish Grand Prix.

Falta won both races at the Italian Grand Prix followed with a win in the first moto of his home Grand Prix in Czechoslovakia but, then suffered two breakdowns in Poland while Moisseev won both races. Falta won a moto in Yugoslavia and at the halfway point of the season, he trailed the Russian rider by 20 points. Each rider took a second place at the West German Grand Prix but, Falta won a moto at the Dutch Grand Prix to close the points gap to 5 points going into the final race of the season in Switzerland.

Falta took the lead in the first race and appeared to be heading for victory while Moisseev was being slowed by a rear suspension failure. When Falta came upon the slowing Russian rider and tried to pass him, the KTM rider made an attempt to obstruct him allowing second and third place riders, Harry Everts and Håkan Andersson to catch up. When Falta attempted to pass Moisseev, the Russian rider collided with him causing him to fall off his bike.Falta was quickly able to remount but, finished the race in third place.

Falta had to win the final moto to have any chance to claim the world championship. As the race began, Falta once again jumped into the lead while Moisseev was forced to retire on the seventh lap. When Falta came upon two Russian riders, Victor Popenko and Eugeny Rybaltchenko, they appeared to attempt to block him. As Falta tried to pass them, Rybaltchenko rode into him, knocking him down. He remounted in third place as race officials waved the black flag at the two Russian riders, disqualifying them from the race. Falta was able to catch up and pass Everts and Gaston Rahier to recapture the lead and win the race, apparently clinching the world championship. However two hours after the conclusion of the race, jury officials penalized him one minute for jumping the start which dropped him to eighth place handing the world championship to Moisseev.

Falta is also remembered for winning the 1974 Super Bowl of Motocross at the Los Angeles Coliseum, against some of the best riders in the world.

When Jaroslav Falta was racing, the situation in his country was not really favourable, but his talent, commitment and his desire to win made him race among the best motocross riders from that time and he conquered some important victories. In 1974, he was the runner up of the FIM Motocross World Championship in the 250cc class, behind Russian Guennady Moisseev.

Jaroslav Falta was loyal to the Czech bikes and he showed the world that they were winning machines after achieving four Grand Prix victories against the likes of factory riders such as Harry Everts, Joel Robert, Guennady Moiseev, Hakan Andersson and Gaston Rahier. In 1974, Falta also went to the USA to race some events of the Inter-AMA series together with his teammate Zdenek Velky and their trainer Hrebecek. Surprisingly, Falta clinched an astonishing victory in Los Angeles Coliseum in front of 65.000 motocross fans.

Jaroslav Falta has been an inspiration to many riders and a model to follow for loads of fans. Michel Turk, President of Motor-Union Luxembourg, admitted: “With his win in LA, Jaroslav Falta gave me the “last kick” to decide that I wanted to be an MX racer in 1975. I want to thank Jaroslav for the wonderful time he has given me. I admire him very much and I want to thank Jaroslav for being my hero for many years as a young boy, and I hope to meet him somewhere in a near future.”

Jaroslav Falta is from a tiny village in the Czech Republic, but he represents a big name for its country due to his accomplishments on his Czech machine. On some occasions, Falta has admitted that his worldwide tour was also seen as a great advertisement campaign for the CZ brand and his country itself. In fact, he has even mentioned that sometimes he feels that foreign fans know him better than the Czech’s.

However, in the Czech Republic there are several publications narrating Falta’s career, such as the book “Ukradený titul” written by Ivo Helikar, sport editor of CMN and the son of one of Falta’s trainers, Frantisek Helikar. Moreover, there are also some English versions thanks to the translation of Martina Faltova, Jaroslav’s daughter. At the moment, Jaroslav Falta lives in a quiet village outside Prague and he is still in touch with motocross, restoring old bikes and visiting some motocross races, as he showed last year attending the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic in Loket.

From Wikipedia Photo by Justyn Norek