The difference between the American and European “bicycle sport” was that the Europeans used the ordinary road bicycles with 26”/28” inch wheels and only little adjusted frames from these ordinary road bicycles. In Holland and for that matter in Europe, BMX (American style) became an organized sport in 1978.
Anyway, it is my believe, that BX – Bicycle Cross was kind of first in Europe and in this case in Holland. We do read 1955 – 1958, somewhere in between.
Above you can see a picture with Dutch youngsters leaving the start line for a race. The guy with number 5 on his number plate is Ton van Heugten, from the famous MX family van Heugten. The pictures on the left shows you even a side-hack (picture of 1958, with Fons van Heugten riding and Hans van Campen as monkey) which were already used back then.
To all of the above a short story has to be told concerning the Dutch situation. Just last year May 7 th in Holland a special Reunion took place of the moto-cross riding sons of the “Van HEUGTEN” family. This famous moto-cross family had 15 children of which 5 daughters and 10 sons. All ten sons were at any time active in the moto-cross sport. Three of the van Heugten sons became multiple Dutch National Champions in their class and the most talented son, Ton van Heugten, did win the World Championship title in the site-car class in 1981.
Anyway, besides the famous van Heugten family, there was also the famous Karsmakers family . This family had 8 children, 2 daughters (of whom I married the oldest one, Mieke!) and 6 sons. Only 5 from these sons were active in the moto-cross sport and also they started out in the woods near their home in Waalre – Holland, imitating MX stars, riding adjusted normal road bicycles.
Photo on the right: f.l.t.r. Theo, Frans, Paul, Martin, Toon and on knee Pierre Karsmakers. Photo below: Promoting BMX. The Karsmakers crew with Pierre en Gerrit Does on BMX bikes
Part of the Van Heugten family competed against the Karsmakers family during their moto-cross careers. From the Karsmakers family, Pierre was the most successful one winning a couple of Dutch National MX titles, winning the National Championship of the USA, competed in many Grand Prix events riding for Yamaha and Honda and in his later days becoming the National Fourstroke Champion of the USA and competing in the famous Paris-Dakar rally. The most talented Karsmakers was Toon, who became three times a Dutch National Champion in the 500 cc class and competed in many Grand Prix events as well.
It's very interesting to find out and realize that BMX found its roots already in the '50 ‘s and that several riders from the famous MX families of “Van Heugten” and “Karsmakers” started out as BMX racers Dutch style!
Story by Gerrit Does