Capturing the Beauty of Motocross in Tehran
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
It’s colorful and captivating. And women are doing it too.
By Ali Asaei
Motocross is off-road motorcycle racing on a closed dirt trail with sharp turns and jumps. It first began in the U.K. in the early 1900s, after which the sport grew in popularity around the world. The first motocross races in Iran took place around 1980 and champions were sent to Japan for training and coaching courses. Thirty years ago, the Motorcycle and Automobile Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran joined the International Motorcycling Federation, cementing Iran’s place in the international motocross arena.
Bikes have either four-stroke or two-stroke engines — which are illegal for use in regular traffic, but that doesn’t always stop riders from biking to the track. Alternatively, bikes can be kept in storage near the local circuit or towed from home. There are motocross tracks all over Iran, and with the exception of a few in Tehran, most have lax upkeep and safety standards.
Some riders are hobbyists, while others take their passion to professional levels. Motocross equipment is prohibitively expensive for many Iranians; a lot of riders rely on sponsorship to pay for gear and competition fees. The sport is expanding rapidly in Iran, and more women have been showing interest: Iran’s first women’s motocross race took place in Tehran in 2009. Women, however, are barred from obtaining any kind of motorized bike license, and their motocross presence is currently visible in only a few of the capital’s circuits.
- Ali Asaei, OZY Author Contact Ali Asaei