Irish MXoN Stories: Brian Dinneen

Brian Dinneen had the opportunity of representing Ireland twice at the Motocross Des Nations in 1988 and 1989. A year later, Dinneen took a big crash and ended up paralysed which has seen him a wheelchair ever since. It goes to show you don’t know whats around the corner so make the most of every opportunity you get. Dinneen is still involved with the sport as he clearly has a lot of passion for it which is great to see.

Dinneen has some great memories of the Motocross Des Nations and his racing career, we caught up with him to get his thoughts.

Gatedrop: What year(s) did you represent Ireland at the Motocross Des Nations and at what tracks/countries?

Dinneen: I was one of Ireland’s top Motocross riders in the 80’s. I was selected twice to race the Motocrosss Des Nations –  In 1988 at Villars sous Ecot in France and 1989 at Gaildorf , Germany.

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Gatedrop: The first time you got the call to represent Ireland at this event, how did it feel to get selected?

Dinneen: When I got the call to say I was selected, it was a big surprise, I guess I never expected or dreamed of being selected. It was a huge honour and it felt amazing. Not many riders from the South have raced at the Motocross Des Nations so as I look back it was a huge achievement to represent my nation at the highest level in the sport.

Gatedrop: What top riders where you up against from other countries to give people an idea of the level – do you remember which nation and individual riders that won (also who were your Irish team mates)?

Dinneen: In France, the USA won the event with Jeff Ward, Ricky Johnson and Ron Lechien. Also racing were Jean Michel Bayle, Jacky Vimond, Hakan Carlqvist, Jacky Martens, Kurt Nicholl and Rob Herring to name some. My team mates were Stephen Russell and William Burgess. In Germany, the Americans won again with Mike Kiedrowski, Jeff Stanton and Jeff Ward. Also racing were Alex Puzar, Trampas Parker, George Jobe, Eric Geboers, Dave Thorpe, Jem Whatley, Jeff Leisk.  My team mates that year were Alan Morrison and Laurence Spence.

Dinneen with Irish team mates, William Burgess and Stephen Russell.

Gatedrop: What were the tracks like at the MXoN you rode and did you feel you were well enough prepared for them?

Dinneen: In France the track was hard pack with some really steep hills, at home most of our tracks were hard pack so I was happy on the French track. We had no preparation before the events as life was busy with work and then racing at the weekends, the atmosphere in France was unreal in front of 40,000 race fans.  In Germany the track was so difficult, it was hard pack but with a blue groove, it was like riding on ice in some parts and I just wasn’t comfortable riding on the track.

Gatedrop: How did Ireland do at the events you represented them for?

Dinneen: Ireland finished in 18th place in France, I rode in the 500cc class and had a DNF in race one with a chain issue. In race two I finished 12th which was the best Irish result on the day, I was happy with that. Ireland finished in 17th place in Germany, I rode in the 250cc class and finished 16th and 17th in the races, I gave my best on a really difficult track.

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Gatedrop: When you look at the Motocross Des Nations now, do you still think it’s still as special as it used to be?

Dinneen: Today’s MXoN is a totally different event, it’s still the highest honour in Motocross to represent your country. There’s more pressure nowadays on the Irish riders in trying to qualify for Sundays main races, there was no qualifying in the 80’s as all countries started the Sundays races. It’s different but it’s still a special occasion for the riders and fans.

Dinneen in action at 1988 in France.

Gatedrop: What advice would you give to any young rider who might be lucky enough to get selected for the event for the first time?

Dinneen: The best advice I can give to those who get selected now is to give 100 percent, your representing your nation so try and finish each race. Also, remember to enjoy the weekend, the weekend passes so quickly and you never know if you will get selected again.

Gatedrop: At a domestic level, what were your biggest achievements and what good memories do you have outside the Motocross Des Nations?

Dinneen: In June 1990 I had been selected for Ireland for the International Six day Enduro so I went to a 2 day British Enduro championship for some preparation, I took a nasty fall on day 2 and as a result I broke my neck and ended up paralysed, I’ve been in a wheelchair since, my racing days were over. At domestic level I finished top 3 in the Irish MX championship in 1987, 88, 89 and I won Irish mx races at Desertmartin and Lisgoold, Midleton, I won 5 Southern Centre MX titles and raced in the British Championship in 1985, 86. I raced in the Coupe de l’Avenir on three different occasions and the team got a 2nd place in 1986.

There were plenty of hard days with some poor results but I kept putting in the hard work and it finally came together with some special moments. I still try and get to a round of MXGP every year and I’m still heavily involved in the sport. I own the Watergrasshill MX practice facility in cork and manage the classic Motocross Des Nations team for the southern riders. I have great memories from the sport and made some great friends from it all.

Interview: Andy McKinstry

Main pic: Dinneen with Laurence Spence and Alan Morrison (1989)