Belgian Indoors - History
Posted on May 07, 2021
Back in 1981 American rider the late Mike Bell showed the European motocross stars how it's done indoors by winning Europe 's first Supercross. Bell won Europe's first major stadium motocross, held in the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, Holland. Bell beat former 250cc World Champion Hakan Carlqvist and Gerard Rond in an event that changed the sport in Europe forever.
From the moment that massive crowd arrived at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, promoters across Europe saw the possibilities and soon events in Paris popped up. The Parc des Prince Supercross in Paris, Bercy Supercross, also at the Nijmegen Velodrome in Holland, and so many others.
Belgium would also have its own indoor event, and for many years some of the best supercross riders attended these indoor races, and while it wasn’t anything like Bercy or Parc des Prince, it could stand alone as the biggest indoor event in Belgium.
In the early eighties, Belgium was one of the European pioneers for Supercross. At the time, Supercross was still called Indoorcross or Stadioncross. Small stadiums like the Limburghal in Genk, or the Expo hall in Kortrijk, the Heysel hall in Brussels and the Sportpaleis in Antwerpen.
The Hardcross in the Antwerp Sportpaleis, which took place from 1984 to 1991, would become a household name and big GP riders would attend, including the late Eric Geboers, who was a big favourite in his homeland.
I remember my first trip to the Antwerpen Supercross, back in 1993, long after its heyday, at the Sportpalais in Antwerpen. I was new to living in Europe, having just arrived six months earlier, but I had been lucky enough to attend a bunch of International supercross events throughout Europe in the 1980s.
I hadn’t even gotten into working full-time at the Grand Prix’s, but I lived just an hour from Antwerpen, and figured I should check out some supercross action, seeing as a had worked in the media around motocross in Australia I thought maybe I could do the same in Europe.
In that little stadium in Belgium, GP stars such as Tallon Vohland, Marniqu Bervoets, Donny Schmit and many others put on a show for the sell-out crowd. Even a young kid by the name of Grant Langston was on the start list, his performances somewhat less impressive than the GP stars, but his time would come and this little Belgian supercross event was perfect for his introduction into Europe.
I still remember fondly in 2001 when Chad Reed beat Stefan Everts and Joel Smets in a sold out stadium I think in Gent from memory. A huge attendance as two of the all time greats of GP motocross went up against this young GP rider, who would eventually become one of the best supercross riders of his era. It was the magnitude of this event and the appeal for the country, something that has totally disappeared in 2021.
As Belgium goes through one of the toughest periods in it's legendary motocross life, gone are the indoor events, tracks are closing, and rider’s numbers are lower than ever. Belgium is suffering, and not just a little and it is because that the grass roots of the sport has disappeared and those international events are no longer, that this famous country will maybe one day disappear as a motocross country.