2011, the Pierre "PEPE" Karsmakers story

  • Written by Jos Wissink
  • Published in Blog

Addition in the section, "How BMX started in the USA" of the History of BMX.

During the pioneerperiode of BMX in the USA (1968 - 1974), my brother in law Pierre Karsmakers was actif as a professional motorcycle moto-cross rider as at first as a works rider for Yamaha. Through me, Pierre got interested in the sport of BMX later on. While visiting Pierre at the time, he showed me around in L.A. and both of us went to manufacturers (Mongoose, Kuwahara, Red Line, Laguna BMX, Oakley, Webco Inc., JT Racing and several others) and witnessed some BMX events (at the ELKS BMX Track, the IRVINE BMX track, the Van NUYS BMX track among others). Pierre got very interested in the business part of the sport and started importing complete BMX bikes, parts, clothing, helmets and so on in the Netherlands from 1976 on. He was the first in Holland to do so and was very succesfull. Here a profile of Pierre, mainly about his own sporting career.


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The Karsmakers family.

Pierre Karsmakers was born in Waalre - Holland, a small town about 2 km from the city of Eindhoven. Pierre grew up in a family of 6 brothers and 2 sisters. 5 brothers, Toon, Paul, Frans, Pierre and Martin got involved in moto-cross and all reached an international level. Brother Theo never raced. Most successful in the sport of MX was Pierre who started racing in 1964 on an English machine, the Greeves 24 MDS. More on Pierre later. The youngest Karsmaker, Toon, was very successfull too. He is the most talented riders of the brothers with a very good riding technique. Toon Karsmakers became 3 times Dutch National Champion several years after Pierre ended his actif career.

Toon Karsmakers, KNMV Dutch National Champion 500cc in 1982, 1983 and 1984. In 2008 Toon participated in the Glenn Hellen's - USA AMA World Championship VETS 50+ and did win the World title. 

Pierre's story in short:

Pierre Karsmakers started competing in moto-cross event in 1964 with the NMB, a National amature organisation. Performing very well a couple of events he decided to change even that season to the KNMV, the Royal Dutch Motorcycle Union, a professional moto-cross organisation. He passed through the categories of Junior and Senior quickly and had an internatinal license within 2 years. Competed a lot in Belgium events, were the competition was very fierce. After 3 Dutch National Championship titles (last one in 1972) and after competing for the first time in the 1971 Trans-AMA motocross series, Pierre was contacted by Yamaha USA and offered a contract to race in the USA. Early 1973 he left Holland to go and live in the USA. His coach in Europe was his uncle Frans Baudoin, a former Dutch National Champion 500 cc with the KNMV. Also during Pierre's American periode, uncle Frans coached him for some time in the beginning. Pierre's mechanics at Yamaha were Ed Scheidler and Bill Butchka.



It was during the mid '70 s that the sport of BMX realy got off the ground in the L.A. area. I myself visited the USA for the first time in 1974, together with <span " class="persoon">Frans Karsmakers and another Dutch mx rider <span " class="persoon">Henny Beekmans. We stayed at a friend called Jaxon Bradley and at the Yamaha dealer in Kansas City, I for the first time saw BMX bikes. From here it all started, the idea of "importing"the sport of BMX to Holland and Europe. Together with Pierre in 1976 we visit BMX bike and part manufacturers as well as BMX organisations. At the time I was still actif as trainer/coach for my youngst brother in law Toon and in our training group there were 7 Dutch top MX riders more. Later on also Pierre became part of this group which group changed names after Willem II Cigars stopped sponsoring us. Pierre got in as a sponsor and from then on we had the "Pierre Karsmakers Moto-cross Training Center" going.


Anyway, this is how Pierre got involved in BMX too, more specific the commercial side of the sport. He started importing into Holland complete bikes, BMX parts, clothing, helmets and so on, as I told you all before. Since little is known by the present younger readers of this site about Pierre, his background and involvement in BMX, I wanted to inform you all about among others, Pierre's motocross career.

The highlights of Pierre Karsmakers career in moto-cross/sport:

Holland - Three Dutch National motocross champion 500 cc titles with the KNWV (Royal Dutch Motorcycle Union)
1967 riding CZ: winning 1st. National Championship title
1968 missed most of this season because of operation on knee 
1969 riding CZ as well and winning 2nd. National Championship title
1970 Bad season, Repeated failures with motorcycle of choise
1971 Entered only 3 of five race on Holland's motocross schedule and won them all:
        finished close 3rd. in National standings.
1972 riding Husqvarna and winning 3rd. National Championship title
        won 13 of 40 international races entered that year; finished eighth (one point out of seventh) in highly-succesful Trans-AMA series that toured Canada across U.S. 

Competators were Gerrit Wolsink, Frans Sigmans, Peter Willems among others.


USA - Participated in the 1971 Trans-AMA motocross series in the USA, finishing on the 9th spot overall after 11 rounds. Final standings after 11 rounds:
1. Eric Geboers - Belgium
2. Adolf Weil - Germany
3. Torleif Hansen - Sweden
4. Roger de Coster - Belgium
5. Joël Robert - Belgium
6. Heiki Mikkola - Finland
7. Willy Bauer - Germany
8. Gaston Rahier - Belgium
9. Pierre Karsmakers - Holland
10. Dave Bickers - England

In 1972 Pierre was present at the Team KAWASAKI celebration of Brad Lackey winning the AMA 500 cc National Championship title moto-cross.


Pierre did leave Europe to race in the USA early 1973. Signed a contract with YAMAHA Motor Corp., U.S.A. and lived in Mission Viejo - California, together with his wife Denise and two children Jarno and Natasha.


USA - In his first year of racing in the USA, Pierre Karsmakers did win the 1973 AMA Motocross National Championship 500cc (Open Class) riding for Yamaha. He also won the Championship of the AMA Florida Winter Series that year, in which he won four of the six events; was runner-up in the Inter-AMA (250cc) competition, despite two wins and a third in five races; captured 7 of 11 AMA National motos; complited record of 17 victories in 36 races, incvluding the non-national events.


In 1974 Pierre returned to defend the Open Class title while giving major priority to the 250cc class. He finished this season with 3 (three) 250cc national victories at Moorpark, CA; Morgantown WV, and Zanesville, OH. Compiled sufficient points to win the 1974 AMA Championship in the 250 cc class. Pierre was denied the title because of an AMA ruling not allowing foreign riders to compile national points. PK was the first American-licensed rider to win the Canadian Grand Prix, won the 250cc AMA National Supercross Championship, taking the Daytona event on the way and captured an Trans-AMA victory in Irvine, Cal. all of this riding for Yamaha. Pictures taken at the Daytona Speedway AMA Supercross MX track.


Because of Pierre winning the Supercross title at Daytona Speedway, he was inducted into the Daytona Speedway Hall of Fame a year later.

Pierre also took part in the 1974 Trans - AMA series in which he finished 10th after 8 rounds in the overall standings. As stated above, Pierre captured a Trans-AMA victory in Irvine, Ca. Results of the 1974 series:

1. Roger de Coster - Belgium
2. Gerrit Wolsink - Holland
3. Adolf Weil - Germany
4. Jim Pomeroy - USA
5. Harry Everts - Belgium
6. Willy Bauer - Germany
7. C. Sugio
8. Brad Lakey - USA
9. Arne Kring - Sweden
10. Pierre Karsmakers - Holland

Pierre became champion in the 1974 so-called Winter - AMA Motocross Championship (Florida) on the Yamaha MX 360. He did win 4 out of the six events series:
Orlando          - Karty Tripes
Jacksonville    - Pierre Karsmakers
Talahassee     - Pierre Karsmakers
St. Petersburg - Marty Tripes
Hialeah           - Pierre Karsmakers
Ft. Pierce        - Pierre Karsmakers

Yamaha also won the Manufacturer's Championship in both the Open Class with Pierre Karsmakers and the 250 Class with teammate Tim Hart.


Due to new ruling by the AMA (non American citisens) it was impossible for Pierre to become the 1974 AMA Motocross National Champion in 250 or 500 cc class !
Later on ruling changed again and it was in September 1975 at the last AMA 500cc National Championship race in Orleans that 5 moto-cross professionals had a change at wining the number 1 plate that day. There were: Tony Distefano, Pierre Karsmakers, Brad Lackey, Marty Smith and Brad Lackey. In 2009 a DVD was release with historic pictures of this last event in 1975, the DVD is called "One change to win". Jimmy Weinert became champion with Pierre finishing in 2nd spot.
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In the year 1975 Pierre did change motorcycles brands and went from Yamaha to HONDA. He did sign a two year contract with Honda. In the AMA - USA National championship Pierre dit well. Result:
AMA National Motocross Championship 1975: Pierre Karsmakers finished 2 nd overall in the 250cc class.


In 1975, beside testing and developing the Honda MX GP machines, several Moto-cross Grand Prix were on the roster of events as well.
At the FIM Grand Prix of Canada in 1975, Pierre finished 1st in the overall standing. This was the first ever Grand Prix win for Honda, realized by Pierre. He rode the famous "Red Devil" Honda RC 500 in the 500cc class.

In the 1975 F.I.M. MX World Championships 500cc series, Pierre Karsmakers did finish 10th overall in the final standings. Individual moto victories being of prime importance, PK scored 10th and 2nd in Canada and a 4th place in England. Pierre was also able to race in America, talking an Open Class victory in Mexico N.Y. finishing 3rd overall in Open Class National points. Tied for 9th position in the Supercross standings in 1975.
In 1976 Pierre continued racing in the European Grand Prix series. He also raced in the USA, took victories in the 250cc class at Southwick, MA and in the OPen Class at St. Peters, MO. Ended Open Class Seeries in 4th place, while he captured in the AMA Supercross Stadium MX Series of 1976, a 2nd plave overall on a 250 cc Honda


Here a series of pictures taken during Pierre's HONDA periode.


In 1977 Pierre raced Supercross and 500 cc Nationals. However, a variety of injuries prevented constant participation. Contested in the 500cc World Championship finishing 8th overall.

In the year 1978 Pierre did return to his first love, YAMAHA Motor Corp., USA and raced Yamaha motorcycles up and till the end of his career in the USA. Again he took part in the Daytona Supercross event, now on a monoshock Yamaha. He did very well, but was taken out at the start of the main event. Pierre was hired by Yamaha to help develop their monoshock bikes. He would do no more GP events because all efforts had to be put in developing.


Officialy Pierre retired as a Pro MX rider ending 1979, but wanted to win one more title, the AMA World Championship Four Stroke title and thats what happend a year later. In 1980 Pierre did win the following title on a Yamaha four-stroke 680 cc engine: 1980 AMA World Champion Four Stroke. After 7 year living and working as a Pro MX rider in the USA, Pierre ended his career her and return to Europe.


2003. Yamaha "Weekend of Champions" at Daytona Speedway - Daytona Beach, Fl.

Yahama Motor Corp. USA invited former factory riders at the Weekend of Champions which event was helt at the Dyatona Speedway in Deatona Beach Florida. Pierre was invited too ofcourse and was present duirng this "renion" type event.

2008. Yamaha celebrates their 50th year of its existance.

Yamaha Motor Corp. USA organised a reunion for former Champions riding for Yamaha as one of their activities celebrating Yamaha's 50th year of existance. This reunion was called "The weekend of Champions" and took place from July 18 - 20th. 2008 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in California - USA.


In Picture above many World Champions and others in the different motorcycle disciplines, among others Pierre Karsmakers (far left), Jeff Emig, Wayne Rainey, Kenny Roberts, Broc Glover, Doug Henry, Gary Jones, Mike Bell, Valentino Rossi, mr. Agostini, Call Carruthers, Rich Burgett, Marty Moates, Randy Mamola ..........


Participation in "Rally Paris-Dakar", "Le Dakar" and the "Heroes Legend Paris-Dakar".

1st. Paris-Dakar in year 1987, Pierre and Toon Karsmakers participated in this Paris-Dakar realy as Drum Store Team. In his first Dakar event, Pierre finished 10th overall in the motorcycle class. They did ride on Honda machines. Their service team at this event was formed by former motor endurance star Anne Kies and navigator Albert Graafstra and mechanic Henk Vercoelen.who rode the Unimog struck without problems through Africa.


Year 1988 was Pierre's 2nd Paris-Dakar event in which he took part. Again a Drum Store Team was organised and the three members on this team were: Eric Verhoef - NED (his first Dakar), Harry Everts - B former World-Champions moto-cross and Pierre Karsmakers - NED. Honda was the brand they were riding on. Pitty to say that all three members had to withdraw due to injuries. Eric Verhoef lasted a week and had to withdraw after falling down twice and injuring his anckle badly. Also Harry Everts had to withdraw from the race, he broke his anckle. Pierre found his Waterloo on the tenth day, did crash hard and broke his pelvis and had to be transported to hospital by plane.



In the 1989 Paris-Dakar rally, Pierre did not take part as a competator but as assistance T4 in a small truck, a Unimog, his former service truck when riding for Drum Store. He completed the event.

In 1991, in between the Dakar events, Kent Combs (a good friend of Pierre's from the USA) and Pierre Karsmakers participated in "The Pharao's Rally" in Egypt.


In 1994 Pierre took part in the Paris-Dakar-Paris Rally in a car. Together with his very good friend from the States, Kent Combs from Laguna Beach - Cal., they rode a Mutsibishi. Kent acted as navigator and Pierre as driver of the car.

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Year 2000 Pierre Karsmakers and son Jirky Karsmakers both finish the Paris-Dakar Rally in Egypt, riding KTM machines. Pierre at the age of 53 years, finishing overall as 13th and his son Jirky finished 25th overall, a fantastic result for a young rider participating for the first time in this prestigious event.


Year 2004 the Paris-Dakar event was entered in the car class. Together with Ab Olde Scheper of Dolphin (water) as driver and Pierre as navigator, they started the 8000 km. rally very enthousiastic, in fact too enthousiastic. Ab drove their car through a waterpool too fast, water entered the engine and after etappe 1, their Dakar adventure was over and out. Very disappointing for the Doplhin Rally Team.


Year 2005 again the Paris-Dakar was entered in the car class. Same team, same sponsors, Ab as driver and Pierre as navigator. Also in this year they did not finish, but crashed their car: The Dophin Rally Team Mutsubishi Pajero was a total loss.


Year 2006 an alternativ Dakar rally was organised, the so-called "Heroes Legend Paris - Dakar". This was more like the Dakar was organised in the early days, preferable on bikes from back then. Pierre started out on a motorcycle again,an XT 500 Yamaha and finished 9th overall.

Year 2007 Pierre Karsmakers took part again in the "Heroes Legend Paris - Dakar" Rally, on a BMW HPZ motorcycle. He did not finish this event due to a broken shockabsorber.

Year 2008 the "Heroes Legend Paris - Dakar" Rally was entered by Pierre for the 3rd time and again he rode a BMW now a G 650. Pitty to say he did not finish this event because of an accident in which he broke his foot in severla places, could not ride anymore.

Year 2009 Pierre Karsmakers did enter the official "Le Dakar - South America", running through Argentina and Chili. Again he entered the event on a motorcycle and as the 2 year before, during the Heroes Legend event, he rode a BMW. During the 5th leg of the event his engine broke down and het had to withdraw from the race, so a DNF it was.


In total Pierre Karsmakers did participate in 11 Dakar events (being the Paris-Dakar in Africa, the Heroes Legend Paris-Dakar in Africa and the Le Dakar in South America), 7 of them on a motorcycle, 3 of them in a car and 1 of them in a small truck (Unimog). Up till today (2011) Pierre is still riding off road motorcycles and participating in motorcycle rally's, respect for this 64 year (at the time) "young" athlete.

2006. The Amsterdam - Holland to Beijing - China motorcar rally.

Another project of Pierre Karsmakers was the Amsterdam - Beijing motorcar rally in which he took part as navigator. A short story will follow soon.



MX Action pictures of Pierre "Pepe" Karsmakers, placed at random:


Here an article dated November 29th. 1974 on Pierre in a Dutch magazine called MOTO-73. A quote from MOTOCROSS ACTION Magazine: "Pierre Karsmakers schooling America in 1973".


Here some action pictures of Frans and Paul Karsmakers taken during their active MX periode:




End of this story.
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