Former motocross racers Torsten Hallman and Mark Blackwell will be honored as AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends during the AMA Legends Weekend Oct. 18-19.
Hallman, who was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2000, was a four-time World Motocross Champion before he came to the U.S. in an effort to popularize the sport and the Husqvarna brand in the country. Within a few years of his arrival, motocross became the most popular form of motorcycle racing in the U.S. Hallman then went on to start riding apparel company Thor.
"Torsten's prominence, since the early days of motocross in the USA, has never faded," said Jeffrey V. Heininger, chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Hall of Fame. "His riding technique and skill changed the sport, his business acumen generated many business opportunities, and his personal qualities brought the sport and the business magically together.
"Torsten's elevation to AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legend status marks another milestone in the American motorcycling scene that only Torsten Hallman could provide," Heininger added.
"I am really honored to be recognized as an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legend and am already looking forward to coming to Las Vegas to participate in the AMA Legends Weekend," Hallman said. "It pleases me to see that motocross has become such a dominant sport in the U.S. — a huge improvement since I came over as the first rider to introduce the sport. At that time nobody even heard about this sport, so I had to spell the word 'motocross.' Today it's a well-known word — I am really proud!"
Mark Blackwell, also a 2000 Hall of Fame inductee, has been recognized for his lifelong contributions to the industry. Blackwell began racing motocross in the late 1960s, becoming one of the sport’s earliest stars. He won the American 500cc motocross championship in 1971 and followed that with a win at the 1972 Daytona motocross. After his racing career ended, Blackwell taught a Suzuki motocross training school, managed the Suzuki Race Team to six AMA championships, did product development for a number of MX-related companies and began working in management for Suzuki, Husqvarna and Victory. Blackwell was also recently named chairman of the Motorcycle Industry Council Board.
"Not only did Mark Blackwell rise to the top to become the 1971 American 500cc motocross champion, but he also raced internationally at a time when the Europeans dominated the sport," Heininger said. "His grit, a win in Switzerland and a podium finish in Germany earned him fans worldwide.
"In addition, Blackwell is probably best known for his major contributions to American motorcycling through his work at Husqvarna, Suzuki and Victory,” he added. "He helped return Husqvarna to profitability in the United States, helped turn the motorcycle and ATV division around at Suzuki, and served as general manager of Polaris Industries' fledgling Victory Motorcycle business during a critical growth period."
"This is an incredible honor for me for which I am very grateful," Blackwell said. "To be recognized alongside the iconic Torsten Hallman makes it even more special. Torsten was the first European motocross racer I ever saw as the sport was coming to America, and his professionalism, education and business accomplishments had a huge impact on the sport, as well as my life and career."
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends are existing members of the Hall of Fame whose accomplishments are highlighted during the induction of the new Hall of Fame members. The AMA Legends Weekend will be held at the Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa and Casino in Las Vegas. Tickets and more information are available at www.motorcyclemuseum.org.