What do Jeff Leisk, Chad Reed, Craig Anderson, Tye Simmonds, Luke George, Brad Williscroft, Nathan Crawford, Paul Caslick and Tony Vickers all have in common? Aside from the fact they’re all title-winning dirt bike racers, Aboriginal forebears is what.
Surprised, right? Well, don’t be, because very few people are aware of the Indigenous bloodlines running through this who’s who of Australian moto royalty. For years, sports such as AFL and NRL have done a great job of acknowledging and celebrating their Indigenous athletes. But in motorcycle racing circles, there’s been no such fanfare.
Thankfully, that started to change last year, when the “Indigicross Grand Prix” race debuted at the 2018 Red Bull Day in the Dirt Down Under. Of all the on-track action that took place over that inaugural DITDDU long weekend, the Indigicross attracted the most attention. Why? Well, not only because it was the first Indigenous-specific motorsport race, two wheels or four, in Australia and arguably the world; but also because a majority of us have been oblivious to the fact that so many of Australia’s most successful dirt bike racers have Aboriginal heritage.
“When you stop to think about, it’s incredible just how many of Australia’s most successful racers have Aboriginal backgrounds,” says General Manager of KTM and Husqvarna Motorcycles Australia, Jeff Leisk, who was Australia’s first successful moto export back in the mid 1980s. “And it’s probably more incredible that very few people realise how well represented Aboriginal people are in the sport. Along with many other riders, I’m very proud of my Aboriginal heritage, and I think the inclusion of the Indigicross GP into the Day in the Dirt Down Under’s race program is a fantastic way to recognise and celebrate just how many of Australia’s top riders have Aboriginal blood.
“A lot is often made about the deep connection that Aboriginal people have with the land, and when you look at the beautiful, natural way that guys like Chad Reed, Craig Anderson and Tye Simmonds ride a motorcycle on dirt, it’s difficult to deny the evidence of that special connection,” Leisk went on to say.