Jim Pomeroy is responsible for a number of firsts in motocross during the 1970s. His record of first includes:
* The first American to win an FIM World Championship MX Event (Spain 1973)
* The first rider to win his debut World GP MX race (Spain 1973)
* The first American to lead the World MX Championship (Spain 1973)
* The first rider to win a World MX GP on a Spanish MX bike (Bultaco)
* The first winner of an indoor Supercross race (Houston, 1974)
* The first American to lead the Trans-AMA Championship (1975)
* The first American to win a moto at the U.S. 500cc GP race (Carlsbad 1977)
* The first non-world champion to win the Trophies des-Nations event (1974)
Born November 16, 1952 in Sunnyside, Washington, Jim Pomeroy was blessed with a number of factors that contributed to his success. His father, Don Pomeroy, was a very successful racer in the late 1950s and '60s. Motorcycle racing was a family affair for the Pomeroys. Jim, his younger brother Ron, sister Debbie and mother were all involved in motorcycling.
Starting with his first bike, a Yamaguchi 55, and progressing through a Yamaha 80, 100 and then DT1 250, young Jim raced flat track, hillclimbs, motocross and hare scrambles events. The Pomeroy family competed at just about any local motorcycle event, including field meets.
Pomeroy grew up immersed in motorcycling and racing. However, winning didn’t come easily during the early part of his racing career. As a pre-teen competing against men, he always seemed to finish in the first non-trophy position. All this changed one day when Don Pomeroy decided to secretly buy his son a trophy to make up for Jim consistently "almost" winning a trophy. (This was a fact Jim Pomeroy only discovered much later as an adult.) The joy of winning the trophy seemed to be all Jim needed to suddenly start winning the races against the older riders.
Winning soon became second nature. By age 13, Pomeroy had amassed a large collection of trophies. And he kept on winning in flat track, motocross, hillclimb and even snowmobiles. Pomeroy’s popularity soon spread out from the central Washington region to other parts of the Pacific Northwest and Canada and he began receiving offers to ride for other people. Unable to ride Pro in the United States, due to the AMA age requirement of 18, Pomeroy headed up to Canada where the age requirement was only 16. He won the Western Canadian Championship, the Manitoba Championship as well as several regional championships.
In November of 1970, Pomeroy finally turned 18 and was able to participate in AMA pro races. His first AMA pro race was a Trans-AMA 250cc support race at Puyallup, Washington, where he finished sixth overall.
In 1971, Pomeroy competed primarily regionally, but he did run an Inter-AMA and a Trans-AMA race. While Jim’s top-20 overall finishes may not have been notable, his riding style was attracting notice. The Trans-AMA race Pomeroy competed in was held at Boise, Idaho. The track included a 450-foot downhill. The other riders would come over the top cautiously and then be careful not to pick up too much speed before the tight corner at the bottom. But not Pomeroy. He would crest the top of the hill, land partway down slope, shift up two gears and pin the throttle wide open. As Brad Lackey watched Pomeroy on a practice lap, he thought there was no way he was going to make the corner. But the brash Pomeroy made it and then he did it again the next lap, and the next. Lackey brought Jim Weinert over to watch. These two riders soon understood that if they were to beat Pomeroy that day, they would have to ride the downhill the same way.
In 1972, Pomeroy rode the AMA 250 and 500cc MX Nationals and Trans-AMA events as a privateer on a Bultaco. The year started with an overall victory at an AMA 250MX event at Saddleback Park in Irvine, California. Pomeroy finished the 1972 500cc Championship fifth overall and had clearly established himself as one of America’s strongest rising motocross stars. The AMA acknowledged Jim’s success by naming him to the first AMA team to attend Motocross des Nations.
In 1973, Pomeroy signed a support rider contract to race for a local Bultaco dealer. The deal included a trip to Europe to do a number of races before the U.S. season started. Racing in Europe had long been a dream for Pomeroy. In preparing for the initial GP race, Pomeroy did a couple of international races to get some experience with European tracks and riders. He quickly discovered that he could win. Brimming with confidence, Pomeroy arrived at the first race of the 1973 season, the Spanish 250cc Grand Prix. After getting a top-10 start, he quickly took advantage of the wide racetrack. Utilizing his flat track experience, he took the outside line and passed the field in the first lap.
Pomeroy exploded onto the motocross scene with the overall race victory and the lead in the World 250 Motocross Championships. Bultaco quickly signed him to a new contract to compete in the World Championships. At first, many fellow GP riders believed Pomeroy’s victory was a fluke, but the 20-year-old American quickly won over the skeptics with strong finishes all season, including a second overall at the Italian GP. Pomeroy finished the year with a seventh overall in the world championship. Clearly Jim Pomeroy was capable of winning against the best riders in the world.
Pomeroy returned to the United States in the summer of 1973 to compete in several Inter-AMA series. He finished second at the Los Angeles Coliseum race as well as recording top-five or top-10 finishes at the other summer events. Pomeroy finished the AMA 250 Motocross championships ranked 10th, despite only competing in five rounds of the 15-race series. Pomeroy also competed in the fall Trans AMA series. He quickly recorded a string of top-10 overall finishes in the early events. However, Pomeroy suffered from a string of DNFs in the later rounds that hampered his final series result. His efforts in 1973 were honored with his selection as the AMA Most Popular MX rider award. He was also selected by Motorcyclist magazine as a MX All Star for 1973.
In 1974, '75 and '76, Pomeroy continued to compete in the World Championships in Europe. He also competed in U.S. races that did not conflict with the World Championship schedule including the newly formed AMA Supercross (then called the Yamaha Super Series) and Trans-AMA series in North America.
In 1974, Pomeroy started his year in the United States by winning the first indoor Supercross race held at the Houston Astrodome. In the World Championship, he battled equipment failures to finish the year a disappointing 14th. Pomeroy’s best finishes of the year were a couple of third-place moto finishes. (Belgium and Czechoslovakia). In the Trans-AMA series Pomeroy recorded a number of very strong third and fourth overalls at the start of the series. He again battled equipment failures and finished third in the last round and was fourth overall and top American for the series. He finished the year on a high note by becoming the first non-World Champion to win the Trophies des Nations.
In 1975, Pomeroy had a strong year in the World Championships, finishing seventh overall. His year included a victory at Belgium and a number of second and third place finishes. In the United States, Pomeroy had an outstanding Trans-AMA series. This included the first moto victory by an American in a Trans-AMA event. Incredibly, he won the race on a stock Bultaco borrowed from a fan at the Georgia event. (Jim’s factory bike was delayed in shipping from Europe.) Pomeroy led the Trans-AMA series for a number of races. Unfortunately, he injured his knee at the Puyallup round and did not complete the balance of the series.
1976 saw Pomeroy had his best year in the World Championships, finishing fourth overall. While his year in Europe was his best ever, he had a miserable Trans-AMA series. Pomeroy fought equipment and team troubles and finished outside the top 15 or 20 at some races. But his result in the World Championship helped Pomeroy win the Motorcyclist magazine Man of the Year award for 1976.
In 1977 Pomeroy switched from his traditional Bultaco brand bike to join Honda’s factory race team. He competed in the AMA 250cc National Motocross Series, AMA Supercross and Trans-AMA series in 1977 and '78.
In 1977, Pomeroy started the year strong with a number of runner-up finishes in AMA Supercross and finished the series second overall. His strong results continued in the 250 outdoor nationals and he finished the 250cc series ranked third. He also finished well in the fall Trans-AMA series. Starting with a third overall at the season opener, Pomeroy finished with seven top-10 places in the eight-round series. Series highlights included a second at Buchanan, Michigan.
In 1978, Pomeroy struggled in the AMA Supercross series. The outdoor nationals went much better for him and he finished the 250cc nationals ranked fifth. In the fall Trans-AMA series, however, Pomeroy broke his collarbone at the Unadilla round. The injury prevented him competing in the early rounds of the Trans-AMA. He did return to record a number of top-ten finishes in the later rounds.
In 1979, Pomeroy wanted to return to the World Championships in Europe. Originally, he planned to race for KTM, but on a stopover during the return trip from meeting with KTM, he was persuaded to rejoin Bultaco. 1979 proved to be a very difficult year. Although Pomeroy was back racing for the World MX Championship, Bultaco was unable to match the money and technology the Japanese manufacturers were putting into their World MX Championship efforts. Bultaco suspended race operations partway through the season as the company ceased operations. Pomeroy regrouped and raced the final portion of the World Championship for an Italian manufacturer, Beta. He did manage to record a number of top-10 moto finishes when the Bultaco or Beta held together.
It had been Pomeroy’s plan for many years to retire from racing before it had put too much strain on his body. So in 1980, he decided he had reached that point and retired from professional motocross racing. He continued to be involved in the sport through his motocross school. Pomeroy toured the United States for several years helping develop another generation of American motocross riders. In 1987, Pomeroy was a passenger in a vehicle that was involved in a crash that left him with permanent damage to his back. But he remained active doing motocross schools at various vintage or regional club events throughout the West. He died August 6, 2006, in a Jeep crash in Washington.
Jim Pomeroy had impressive success both in the World Championship and AMA Motocross and Supercross series, but just as important, he made the world aware of the potential of U.S. riders and motivated a generation of new riders and fans.