Joël Robert, the multi-prize winning enfant terrible of motocross
Joël Robert was born on 26 November 1943 in Châtelet, south of Charleroi, into a family of motorcycle enthusiasts. He did not disappoint his family, friends or all those who followed him from his early years as, between 1964 and 1972, Joël Robert won six world titles and accumulated 50 Grand Prix victories, all in 250cc.
It is no illusion to say that he fell into it when he was little, since he got his first motorcycle at the age of seven. From that moment on, the young boy trained in all weathers. Persistence led him to develop his incredible gifts, becoming a full rider and starting to race at the age of 17. His efforts paid off in 1964 in Helsinki, where at the age of 21 he became the youngest world champion in motocross history. This was the start of a prestigious career, during which he went on to win five more world titles, a record that would last until the end of the century. After his racing career, the Charleroi native coached the Belgian Motocross of Nations team from 1997 to 2006.
Besides his sporting performances, Joël was a man who did not believe in half measures. Political correctness did not concern him; his opinions could be devastating, but were always supported by sound, intelligent analysis. Beyond his somewhat rustic manners there was also a man of exceptional kindness, generosity and sensitivity. The man from Hainaut also had a highly developed festive character, and those who knew him were always astonished by his ability to lead a life of partying and have an exceptional career as a champion at the same time.
It was the desire to pass on his driving skills to young people that led him to run courses in the United States. It was there that he became friends with another motor cross enthusiast, Steve McQueen, whose stunt, in which the actor had to cross a barbed wire fence in one of the last scenes of the 1963 film "The Great Escape", he performed on his motorcycle. He himself became the star of an album in the Michel Vaillant series and the subject of a book by Walter Schwilden, "Qui êtes-vous Joël Robert".