The year was 1969. American motocross was young and struggling to climb out of obscurity. In October, at the Inter-Am motocross race in Pepperell, Mass., it got its big break: “ABC Wide World of Sports” showed up to film the event and exposed would-be American fans to the European stars who dominated the sport.
Although Sweden’s Arne Kring won the race on his works Husqvarna, CZ’s American rider, Barry Higgins, became an underdog hero to a national audience. As the top American rider, Higgins finished fifth on a 1969 Jawa CZ360, beating several European stars.
“Motocross racers were far from sports heroes then,” says Higgins. “We were thought of as hooligans on motorcycles, and getting on TV was a big step to help change that.”
Following that race, Higgins’ popularity soared, and he continued to develop as a motocross racer, ultimately becoming a multi-time AMA national champion.
Following his racing career, Higgins remained in the motorcycling industry, owning a successful KTM dealership near Atlanta for 28 years. He began full-time work for KTM North America Inc., in 2003. There, he has helped develop KTM’s amateur racing talent and prepare riders for the pro ranks.
Barry Higgins was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000.