Sunday, March 15, 2009
Roger De Coster. A motorcycle Icone
Roger De Coster (born August 28, 1944 in Uccle) is a Belgian motocross racer. His name is almost synonymous with the sport of motocross. He won five 500cc Motocross World Championships and tallied a record 36 500cc Grand Prix victories. He was known for his smooth, controlled riding style and a commitment to physical training. His training regime gave him the stamina that allowed him to circulate for most of the race in mid-pack before putting in a late charge through the field to victory when other racers had begun to tire. His stature is such in the world of motocross that he is often simply referred to as "The Man." He was also a Gold Medalist in the 1964 International Six Day Trial, a four-time winner of the Trans-AMA series, and won the 1964 Belgian Observed Trials National Championship.
De Coster began his professional career with the Czechoslovakian firm ČZ racing in the 500cc class. He won the 500cc Belgian National Championship in 1966 and moved up to the Grand Prix World Championship in 1967. He won his first 500cc Grand Prix in 1968.
In 1971, De Coster made the difficult decision to leave ČZ and join the Japanese firm Suzuki. It was with Suzuki that he would attain his greatest success, winning the 500cc Motocross World Championship three years in a row in 1971, 1972 and 1973 before Heikki Mikkola dethroned him in 1974. De Coster came back and regained the World Championship for the 1975 and 1976 seasons. By the mid-seventies, he had established himself as the greatest motocrosser of all time. In 1980, He joined Honda for one final season. He left the sport on top, winning his final world championship race — the 500cc Motocross Grand Prix of Luxembourg at the end of the 1980 season.
After his racing career, De Coster became a United States citizen and remained involved in the sport, becoming the motocross team manager for Honda. He has since returned to Suzuki, managing their U.S. motocross squad that has won American National race events and championships. He has also managed Team USA in the Motocross of Nations.