It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Ross "Rollerball" Pederson, the bajillion time Canadian champion. Ross was an icon in Canadian moto, nobody could beat him for many, many years. When I was a little kid, the only pro racing I got to see was when the gods of Canadian moto came to my local track. And that track was Austin, just the roughest sand track ever. Endless depths of beach sand, big rolling bumps...only the fittest could challenge and tame the Austin track. And The Ross always tamed it, even when the pros raced 3 classes, 6 motos in a day. The Ross would lay the smack down on each and every challenger until he retired as the defending CDN champ in 1993. He ventured south many times and podiumed the '87 Hangtown national behind RJ and Wardy. He was top five in the AMA outdoors many times and his best supercross finish was a 7th. If he didn't already have a cool nickname, I would nominate "MX Jesus" as his.
He also raced arenacrosses across the country, The Ross would go anywhere if the purse was big and he would challenge anybody, anytime. His epic battles with Jim Holley is the stuff of legends, his sx wins in Montreal,Vancouver and Toronto helped the whole country come together as one. He was also not one to be fooled with on the track as his nickname suited him well. He liked the aggressive racing and basically was the size of a linebacker so not too many people tried anything with him. Mitch Payton told me one time that Danny Storbeck and Jeff Hicks came to him to ask if he could tell Ross to take it easy out on the track. They figured that since Mitch sponsored all three guys, maybe he could talk some sense into the man known as "Roller". Mitch just said to the guys to settle it on the track if they didn't like him. Of course, there was nothing ever done. Ross Maeda told me that when he did Ross's suspension his mechanic would show up at the shop and then 45 min later Ross would come up, all sweaty. He had told his mechanic to drop him off miles from the shop and he would jog there. Ross said he would be wearing jeans and some running shoes! The Ross told me that he used to ride until the tank was empty on his bike and then drink some water and head out for more training. He was a self made champion who was just an animal.
The men who beat Ross in Canada should be imortalized. Al Dyck, Mike Harnden, Doug Hoover and Carl Vaillancourt were the only ones from 1981 to 1993 to ever beat Ross in a title chase. I've gone on enough about Ross, send me your Ross stories and pictures and I'll put'em up. We can all share what it was like to be around a hero.
Here's a podcast I did with him recently. I almost pooped my pants when he picked up but somehow I managed to get through it. Listen to it here.
I gathered up a Greatest Hits of the Rollerball and put it down to paper HERE
I did a second podcast with Ross and included his long-time racing rival Jim Holley HERE
Here he is in all his glory. The Ross wore Answer gear for most of his career. Never mind his number putting on abilities, he was all business at the track. Ross rode Suzukis his whole career except the early 80's when he was on Kawi's and two years on Yamaha ('86, '87). A Bill Petro photo.
This is a photo from MXA that I scanned all crappy like. This is Roller with his lowest AMA number. Notice the "RM" on the shrouds that is worn off, Ross went so fast he blew them half off. What I wouldn't give to be in those...errrr... have those pants.
Found this on Google images. This is absolutely CLASSIC Roller. Attacking the track, R&M Pro Flo gloves (Canada only), Griffin helmet which wasn't legal in the USA so Ross, in a clever move, would put Griffin stickers on a Bell. Only a man like Ross wouldn't be scared to wear bright pink gear or use pink handlebars. What are you gonna do, try to beat him up?
Ross's Hi-Flyer card, he was winding down his career at this point and #80 would be his last AMA number. He was older and maybe not as dangerous as he once was but I guarantee you he was still faster then you at this point.
Found this on Google images also. He's not THE Ross Pederson, but I bet he wishes he was. I also bet he is the best flooring specialist in the world because of his name.
I heard that when you looked him in the eyes your legs turned to jello and you peed your pants. I was too young to know for sure but that's what I heard.
Another crappy scan but this was 1987 and he had his best year ever in my opinion. Won everything in Canada and got 3rd at Hangtown 250 National. He was a force, just an immovable object...like a Rollerball.
The epic story written by RXC's Brett Dailey, the man, myth and legend was in full display here. Look at him doing up his glove before he goes to battle. Something I always wondered, why is one boot clean and the other so dirty?
His cover shot and the last ever issue of RXC published. Kind of fitting I think. This was 1984 and he was the man, he told me in the podcast that this was the year he made the most money.
Look at the intensity! This is Ross in the early 80's, just getting into his prime years. I dunno about you but I get goose bumps just looking at this. That helmet makes him look a little like Marvin the Martian though. Thanks to Bill Petro for the use of his photos.
This is 1981 and probably Toronto SX because it was always muddy at the Old Ex stadium in TO. Ross was a great mud rider, a great dry rider and a great sand rider. The promoters would always bring these big shot American riders up to battle The Ross in the sx's but more times then not, he would defend his countries honor. A Bill Petro photo.
Montreal Supercross in early nineties, The Ross ducking to the inside like any good rider would. He no doubt had such a prime gate pick from dominating his heat race. The #2 rider is his arch enemy Al Dyck (himself a great rider), #4 is No Fear head honcho Jeff Surwall and I think the #5 is "Wild" Bill Wallin. Bill Petro photo.
I thought it was appropriate to end this photo essay with a pose that The Ross was very used to. Look at the cuffs of his gloves, they look like gardening gloves! How much you wanna bet he took the trophy girl home that night? He pissed excellence and pooped first place trophies. Another Bill Petro photo.
BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!
Here is the Ross at the 1982 Quebec 500 GP. I had no idea they had a GP in Quebec. Of course, I was nine. But whatever, here he is flying through the air on his POS RM500. MY buddy Gerald who took these photos thinks he went 5-DNF or something like that. I heard he went 1-1 but what do I know?
Here's Roller talking things over with Mike Harnden and a guy named Kingsley at that same GP. Ross was number 54 in the USA this year so this must be practice. His sweet race van and tent is in the background there. I remember him having that in Austin, it was pretty sweet for sure. Kingsley should get bonus points for the awesome KTM 495 that I'm sure handled great
This is the start of a Canadian national in Quebec. Again, Gerald took this photo because there are two Manitobans in the picture, number 11, Don Gill and number 52 Al Keith. We were laughing because they both have their first and last names on their jerseys. That must've been a Manitoba thing! Check the guy dropping the gate just chilling in the middle. Also that number 99, Rob Hodgson was pretty fast I think.
Here he is in 1986 at Millville in the massive whoop section. Once again he's on a sub-par big bike. His YZ490 up against the CR and KX500's is like a small double cheeseburger against me. I love this gear and Gerald thinks he went 5-6 or something like that on this day.
Here's a cool shot of Ross from the Thunder Bay national that the guys are talking about below. Nice form and nice picture all these years later. Thanks to Allan Legacy for this picture and that cool story below.