The best freestyle motocross riders in the world deserved a spectacular showcase for their amazing aerial tricks, and that's exactly what they got when the first Red Bull X-Fighters contest was devised and staged in 2001 at one of Spain's great bullrings in Valencia.
Up until that point, the fledgling sport had largely been centred on the United States and hadn't spread much beyond, but Red Bull's idea of bringing the world's eight best FMX riders to an iconic venue in Europe and instituting a new competition format designed to bring the best out of these motorcycle wizards transformed the sport overnight.
More than 11,000 intrigued fans flocked to the magnificent Plaza de Toros de Valencia to watch the contest, and soon found themselves cheering on their brilliant local favourite, Edgar Torronteras.
The man from Barcelona missed out on victory by a mere point, though, thanks to the mastery of the sport's superstar of the time, 'Mad' Mike Jones. The American, whose pioneering tricks, like the No Hander Lander, which he landed successfully tocries of 'Ole!' from the enthralled crowd, made him a fitting inaugural winner.
The whole event was rapturously received, and a game changer for FMX. From then on, the crowds kept flocking to Red bull X-Fighters, the standard of riding skyrocketed, and the tricks progressed at such a rapid rate that by the time the 2003 event came to Madrid, even 'Mad Mike' was being eclipsed by riders like Travis Pastrana, Nate Adams, and Kenny Bartram executing daredevil Backflips off a kicker ramp.
The Red Bull X-Fighters then began strutting their stuff at a series of iconic locations around the globe, from the heart of Moscow's Red Square to under the gaze of the Great Sphinx of Giza. A world tour wad then established in 2007 to keep developing and improving what's become one of motorsport's very favourite events.