Cycle News

Cycle News 2019 Issue 15 April 16

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 126 of 135

CN III ARCHIVES BY LARRY LAWRENCE "O ne thing about that bike, anybody who has ever seen it run, never forgot it. It was such a spectacle, what it did and how it did it," said T.C. Christenson of John Gregory's diabolical creation, a Norton double-engine drag racer named "The Hogslayer." Christen- son should know, he was the rider of one of the iconic drag racing motorcycles of all-time. The Hogslayer made stars out of Christenson and Gregory in the drag-racing world. Hitting a peak in the early-to-mid-1970s, the nitro-burning twin-engine Norton propelled Christenson to four world championships and helped push the sport of motorcycle drag racing into a golden age during the 1970s. Lanky and studious, John Gregory started drag racing in the early 1950s out of his hometown of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Gregory was a mechanic at the American Motors factory in Kenosha, but with frequent layoffs, he did a lot of side work and quickly earned a reputa- tion as one of the best mechanics in an area full of top-notch wrench turners. In 1958, Gregory opened a motorcycle shop. It faced west and a popular TV show at the time was called 77 Sunset Strip, so as Gregory recalls, "I decided to name the shop Sunset Motors." Sunset Motors shop was involved in helping racers in all forms of the sport, from drag racing to dirt track, scramble and road racing. P126 THE HOGSLAYER Christenson was a single-engine machine that won a lot of races. Their Norton was fitted with a fuel injection system retrofitted from an Offenhauser car-racing engine. In the most significant motorcycle drag meet of 1969, held in Bowl- ing Green, Kentucky, Christenson got his first national recognition by winning the C Fuel class against the nation's best, setting a new class re- cord in the high nine-second range at over 140 miles per hour—this from a stock bore-and-stroke Norton. It was at the Bowling Green event that Christenson saw Boris Murray's double-engine Triumph. That bike inspired him and Gregory to go to work on building their first twin-engine Norton. "Kenosha was the perfect place to build racing motors," Christenson said. "It was a factory town with machine shops everywhere, and it seemed like the whole town got be- T.C. Christenson was a local Kenosha rabble-rouser who earned a reputation as a wild child as a teen when he and some buddies learned how to make bombs in chemistry class. They set one off in front of the police station as a protest to cops giving out tickets to kids for riding their bicycles recklessly. Christenson got into motor- cycling at a young age and was doing a lot of street racing. He met Gregory for the first time when he took one of his motorcycles into Gregory's shop to be worked on. Christenson and Gregory both shared an interest in drag rac- ing and the two quickly became friends, and before long Gregory was helping build drag bikes for Christenson. By the late '60s, the two were doing so well they decided to form a team and called it Gregory-Christenson Racing. The first Norton Gregory built for T.C. Christenson on the twin-engine, Norton-powered "Hogslayer."

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