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                                              MXworksbike visits Leslie Archer in Spain

 

      Joel Robert, Leslie Archer, Terry Good and Hakan Andersson at the Mediterranean marina where Les Archer keeps his Yacht.

When tracing the beginning of motocross history, as in the very DNA of the sport, one need not go any further than 1956 500cc European/World Motocross Champion Leslie Archer. Les Archer a former works Norton rider from England, had a spectacular motocross career that spanned the 1950's and 1960's. The 50's and 60's are what is now known as the "Golden Era" of motocross. He was the original hero of Champions like Joel Robert, Hakan Andersson and Roger DeCoster to name a few. Believe it or not, he is the third generation of a family deep imbedded in the history of motocross. His grandfather J.C. Archer was instrumental in the very first motocross/scrambles event in history way back in 1924 at Bagshot Heath in southern England. Prior to his stellar motocross career, Les was also an accomplished road racer and was the first rider in history to compete with his father Les Sr. in the Isle of Man TT back in 1947 and he got third in class. If anyone is without peer it is Leslie Archer.

After his racing career, Les owned and operated a very successful sports car business in England and then retired to the southern Mediterranean coast of Spain. For the last 25 years Les and his beautiful wife of 56 years Claire, have basked in the Spanish sun, sailed the Mediterranean sea and basically lived the good life.

A few years ago we established a relationship with Les mostly through email and the telephone and became pretty good friends but we never met in person. He speaks with very articulate and proper old English grammar and British accent. His memory of the early days is incredible and listening to the old stories in detail ( we recorded some of them) is something else. Les also kept detailed records covering his and his families involvement in motorcycling going back to the beginning. In our never ending quest to accurately document motocross history, Les offered to help and provide us with important documentation covering this important part of history.  A trip to Spain was a must.

Two people we keep very close contact with are Hakan Andersson and Joel Robert. In one of our almost weekly phone conversations I had mentioned the planned trip to Spain to meet up with Les Archer. Both Joel and Hakan were very surprised that we knew him and both had confessed that Les Archer was their boyhood hero and neither one of them had ever met him. This was a surprise to us. Strike that, this was a shock to us. Hakan even reminisced about how his dad took him to the Swedish Grand Prix when he was seven years old to see Les and still had the race program from that race. It didn't take long and soon we were all planning to visit the former World Champion in Spain. After lining up all of our schedules we all (wives included) finally went to Spain this last fall to meet Mr. Leslie Archer.

Once in Spain we were treated by the Archer's like royalty. Les and Claire took us to some fabulous restaurants and sightseeing to some of the best scenery Spain has to offer. We even found a motorcycle museum with dozens of motorcycles that none of us had ever heard of. There was never a dull moment and surprisingly none of us ended up in jail, although when you are with Joel Robert anything is possible. We spent hours upon hours going over all of the historical stuff that Les has in his archives. His photo archive is absolutely insane. Les even prepared copies of some of the real important historical stuff for us to take home for our own use. We recorded hours of interviews, story telling and we even recorded some video. All of this will be used to document this important era either on this site, the new book we are working on and in our planned brick and mortar museum dedicated to the history of professional motocross. Stay tuned for some really cool stuff.

To sit on a terrace over looking the Mediterranean Sea with Joel Robert, Hakan Andersson and Leslie Archer taking about the old GP wars was overwhelming at times. All three of them really see the need to preserve the history and are helping us do that in a big way. For me though, the most amazing thing was to see my hero's in awe of their hero. Enjoy some of the photos below.

Terry Good -- December 2012

 

                                                                         That rock is over 1000 feet tall.

                                                      "Look, you pay this time and I promise I'll get the next one."

                                           Joel and Hakan sitting on the terrace of the Archer villa overlooking the sea.

   

                                                   Joel Robert and Hakan Andersson meeting Leslie Archer for the first time.

   

       On a billiard table that has been in the Archer family for over 100 years, Les shows Hakan and Joel how it was before their time.

   

                                                                           Breathtaking countryside was everywhere.

   

                                                                     On top of Guadalest an over 800 year old fortress.

   

                                    The door behind Leslie was hundreds of years old when Columbus discovered America.

   

                                                            Taking a breather on one of the many sight seeing stops.

   

                          Hakan listens to another incredible Joel Robert story. They have been good friends for over 40 years.

   

       When most of us tell racing stories we are usually much faster than we really were. When these guys tell stories, it's the real deal.

   

   

                           One of the fastest guys to ever ride a motorcycle on the pavement and the dirt, meet Mr. Leslie Archer.

   

                                                                                 The food in Spain is excellent.

   

                                 There were over 100 motorcycles in this museum. None of us had heard of over half of them.

   

       Hakan shows Claire and Les the original program his father bought him at the Swedish GP he attended when he was 7 years old.

   

                                                                  Leslie Archer 82 years young and sharp as a tack.

   

                                                                    Six time 250 World Champion the great Joel Robert.

   

                                    1973 250 World Champion Hakan Andersson. One of the nicest guys you will ever meet.

   

                                                          On Les Archer's boat. Never a dull moment with these guys.

   

                              After bench racing on Leslie's boat the four of us decided to do some wind surfing......... Just kidding.

   

                                                                                        Spain is a beautiful place.

   

                                                                No commentary needed.........absolutely incredible.

   

                                                                                  Mr. Archer's view everyday.

   

                                                             ...........and back home. Hated to see it end.