In 1959, Motocross was entering its second age, the 500cc class had been upgraded as a World Championship and the 250cc class was officially a European Championship, separated from the 500cc event – in which it was the support class until then. The motorcycles used at the beginning were almost all British road bikes more or less adapted to an off-road use. Work was made to take off some weight, and also two-stroke machines, in particular Czech CZs were fighting the four-stroke British bikes with quite success, essentially in the 250cc. British rider Brian Stonebridge (born 6 June 1928) started in 1950 riding scrambles for the Matchless team. He won a Gold Medal in that year’s ISDT, and in 1952 and 1954 was a member of the British team winning the Motocross des Nations. He went to the BSA factory in 1954 and in 1957 he switched to Greeves as rider and Competition Manager and Development engineer. He had his best year in the 1959 FIM European Motocross Championship (photo: 19 July in Beenham Park, Rolf Tibblin (l.) and Brian Stonebridge (r.) leading the pack), winning three events and finishing runner-up to Swede Rolf Tibblin, and ahead of 1958 champion Jaromir Cizek.
In October 1959 he was killed in a road traffic accident – he was passenger in a car driven by factory boss Bert Greeves. Nonetheless his development work on the Villers engine brought success to his young teammate Dave Bickers who took the 250cc title in 1960 and 1961.
Text Marc Pétrier – Photo FIM/Christopher Lavery collection