Motocross (often shortened to MX or MotoX) is a form of motorcycle sport or all-terrain vehicle racing held on enclosed off road circuits. Motocross is derived from the French, and traces its origins to British Scrambling competitions. The name "motocross" is a portmanteau derived from the words "Motorcycle" and "Cross Country".
Motocross was first known as a British off-road event called Scrambles, which were themselves an evolution of Trials events popular in northern Britain. The first known Scramble took place at Camberley, Heath in 1924. During the 1930s, the sport grew in popularity, especially in Britain where teams from BSA, Norton, Matchless, Rudge, and AJS competed in the events. Off-road bikes from that era differed little from those used on the street. Intense competition over rugged terrain led to technical improvements in motorcycles. Rigid frames gave way to suspensions by the early 1930s, and swinging fork rear suspension appeared by the early 1950s, several years before it was incorporated on the majority of production street bikes. The period after the World War 2 was dominated by BSA which had become the largest motorcycle company in the world. BSA riders dominated international competitions throughout the 1950s.
Motocross is distinct from other forms of motorsport in having a mass start, where all the riders line up alongside each other, starting simultaneously and racing the race distance. The first rider across the finish is the winner of that "moto"; the number of motos may vary and points are added up to determine the final winner.
Motos vary in duration, usually measured in time elapsed plus one or two laps, or alternatively a fixed number of laps. Top level racing tends to have long races (e.g. 30 minutes plus 9 laps) while at the other end of the spectrum, amateur races can be as short as 5 minutes. When the designated time duration of the race is complete, a finish line flagger signals via a board or flag to the racers that there are one or two laps left, and the race is finished by a checkered flag.
Motocross tracks are often quite large (a quarter mile) and incorporate natural terrain features with varying amounts of man-made jumps and other features. It is not unheard of for a Motocross track to be made up entirely of hills and turns with tons of jumps. In contrast, Supercross is an entirely man-made track, comprised almost exclusively of a wide array of jumps, and is typically held in an indoor stadium. Due to the size of outdoor tracks, motocross races typically include 40 racers, while supercross races usually have about 20.
Contrasting with motocross are the off-road racing events of Enduro, Hare and Hounds, Hare Scrambles, etc. In these events there are a pre-determined number of laps or long distance loops to complete within a maximum time limit. These events, unlike Motocross, race on courses that are largely comprised of natural terrain. The Baja 1000 is an example of one of these types of events.
- Also see: Motocross motorcycle