Irish MXoN stories: David Crockard
Over the course of the next month we will be taking a trip down memory name and getting plenty of stories from riders who have represented Ireland at the highest level. David Crockard, now 75 years old has represented Ireland seven times and back then who’d have thought his son, Gordon would go on to achieve GP wins and a third in the world!
We caught up with David Crockard to discuss representing Ireland at the Motocross Des Nations/Trophee Des Nations, what it was known as back in the day. There will be plenty more Irish MXoN stories coming soon.
Gatedrop: What year(s) did you represent Ireland at the Motocross Des Nations and at what tracks/countries?
Crockard: 1969 – MXDN – Farleigh Castle – GB, 500cc Team finished 8th
1969 – Trophee Des Nations – Kester – Belgium, 250cc, Team finished 9th
1970 – Trophee Des Nations – Ring Knutstrop – Sweden, 250cc, Team finished 6th
1971 – Tropee Des Nations – Czechoslovakia – Holice, 250cc, Team finished 14th
1972 – Trophee Des Nations – Genk – Belgium, 250cc, Team finished 8th
1974 – Trophee Des Nations – Vesoul – France, 250cc, Team finished 8th
1976 – Trophee Des Nations – Switzerland, Team finished 14th
Gatedrop: The first time you got the call to represent Ireland at this event, how did it feel to get selected?
Crockard: I felt honoured. What is bigger in sport than to represent your country at a world-class level?
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)?
Crockard: We were up against professional World GP riders. We were all amateurs.
Roger De Coster – Belgium
Sylvian Geboers – Belgium
Joel Robert – Belgium
Jeff Smith – GB
Dave Bickers – GB
Jeff Banks – GB
Malcolm Davies – GB
The Belgians usually won.
Irish Team mates: (teams of 5)
Gordon Bowden x3
Dennis McBride x6
Robert Wilkinson x5
Winston Norwood x5
Raymond Davidson x1
Leslie Wright x1
Sam McMinn x1
Irwin Thompson x1
Sam Stokes x2
Alan Garrett x1
Gatedrop: What were the tracks like at the MXoN you rode and did you feel you were well enough prepared for them?
Crockard: The tracks were natural tracks, no man made jumps, no bulldozers to level the track between the 40 minute races. We prepared the best we could time permitting, as we all had full time jobs.
Gatedrop: How did Ireland do at the events you represented them for?
Crockard: The best result was 6th in Sweden. The rest mainly 8th places.
Gatedrop: Individually how did you do and where you happy with your results?
Crockard: Farleigh Castle 1969, Race 1: 26th, Race 2: 18th
Sweden 1970: Overall 27th. I can’t remember any other results. I was happy with my results, as I was usually the highest points scorer on the team. We were amateurs travelling to new tracks in different countries, with limited spares and resources with us. It took 3 days to get to there, 2 days there and 3 days to get home.
Gatedrop: What memories/stories from the event stick out for you when you look back to the event? There must be some things that happened not too many people know about!
Crockard: In Czechoslovakia we stayed in a hotel in Prague. The cars and bikes trailers were in the hotel car park, unsecured. The next morning all the stickers had been stripped off the bikes and trailers. The locals could not get stickers like NGK plugs, Castrol oil, Dunlop tyres. Nothing else was touched or removed. We met Franta St’astny, who used to ride the Ulster GP road race.
Gatedrop: When you look at the Motocross Des Nations now, do you still think it’s still as special as it used to be?
Crockard: I haven’t been for many years. When the USA joined it, it made it more interesting.
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?
Crockard: Give 100% effort in preparation and racing. Never give up, remember that you are representing your country. Enjoy it. I got my enjoyment from knowing that I tried my utmost and could not have given anymore.
Gatedrop: At a domestic level, what were your biggest achievements and what good memories do you have outside the Motocross Des Nations?
Crockard: Ulster Champion 1969, Irish Champion 1976, 250cc British GP, Dodington 1969 – finished 13th, British GP, Farleigh Castle – finished 11th.
I have a good memory of a mammoth race with Dave Watson at the old Tinkerhill track, Newry. Dave caught and passed me early in the race. I kept within striking distance and learnt where he was quicker. I started to catch up until we were dicing together. The crowd were running from one place on the side of the tracker to another so as not to miss the action. The last corner on the circuit was a downhill jump into a hairpin corner and a jump up to the finish flag. I was about a wheel in the lead going into the hairpin and used the outside line close to a hedge. Fortunately for me, he hit a bump and went into the hedge. I saw him years later and he still remembered that race. He asked me if I remembered the race that he beat me in later that season and I replied, NO.
Interview: Andy McKinstry