Torsten Hallman was Grand Prix’s first ever real worldwide hero. It was the four times 250cc world motocross champion who ventured to America at a young age, and brought interest to the American scene. Not only a great racer, but also a pioneer in motocross clothing, as his product Thor continues to be known in the sport.
Photo - Torsten Hallman - leading the 1966 Motocross des Nations - today MXoN - in Remarlarde, France!
His battles with Belgian great Joel Robert are legendary, and his love of motocross continues decades after he began racing as a young boy.
A quietly spoken man, Hallman has 37 Grand Prix victories, and if you ask anyone in Europe or America, they all know the name Torsten Hallman.
Hallman might never have won the Motocross des Nations (finishing second on a few occasions), he did win the Trophee des Nations on five occasions, in 1963, 1964, 1966, 1967 and 1968. An event that pitted the 250cc bikes against each other. Both events were as important as the other, but the Trophee des Nations ended in 1984, when they decided to combine the 500cc and 250cc bikes.
After his racing career, he began to sell motocross pants and gloves at the races to help supplement his income. Innovative Hallman racing products were available in the mid-1970s via catalogue, and were very popular throughout the USA. This eventually led to the formation of THOR Motocross (Torsten Hallman Original Racewear). Thor grew to become one of the leading off-road racing apparel companies in the world.
In 2000, Hallman was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Now 77 years old Hallman visited the Grand Prix of Sweden last weekend, and enjoyed visiting the GP series, where he once dominated. We were fortunate enough to have Torsten answer our questions, and as always it is an honor to have dealt with this legend of our magnificent sport.
MXLarge: How was your weekend at the Swedish Grand Prix and what stood out for you?
TH: Great racing, specially second MXGP race with a duel between Febvre and Gajser. The start was so important when the tight track
made it very difficult to pass. Pity that Cairoli missed the start and was way down – he could only come up to 7th! And of course, pity with Herlings chain, if not the racing could have been even better!
MXlarge: Great to see guys like Aberg, Andersson and yourself there. How is that to catch up with those guys at the races?
TH: We see each other quite often at veteran meetings. Just over a month ago before Uddevalla I met most of my team mates riding in the Trophee and MXoN teams.
MXLarge: Did you ever do a USGP and if you did, what was your experience?
TH: No, the USGP was not invented when I was racing! You must understand that when I came to the US during the first couple of years I always had to spell the word “motocross” to explain for people what I was doing!
MXlarge: Motocross of Nations is the biggest race of the year and I noticed you never actually won it, even in the era of Sweden winning it often. Why was that?
TH: You have to look deeper in your history books! During my era, we had both Trophee des Nations (250cc) and MXoN (500cc). In that time, the same riders were picked to ride in both of the team races. I am quite satisfied with my result winning the Trophee des Nations five times and coming second in the MXoN three times! And I won individual three or four times! At my first MXoN race 1963 in Sweden I was leading – and Team Sweden was in the lead – when my experimental Husqvarna 420cc bike suddenly stopped with ignition problems! Same in France 1966 when I was leading when the chain broke etc- etc.!!!! (see enclosed photo from the mud race in Sweden 1963 – and a photo from the start in Remarlarde, France -66 with Torsten in the lead)
MXlarge: How many MXoN did you do and what stood out for you at that event?
TH: Seven Trophee des Nations and five MXoN. It’s a special feeling to be standing on top of the box with all team members and all the fans following that event!
MXlarge: Did you used to go to MXoN as a boy or have memories of the event as boy?
TH: No, I never attend any of the team races before I raced myself in Italy 1961.
MXlarge: How have you seen the MXGP class this year. What have you enjoyed about it?
TH: I am really impressed by the performance of Tony Cairoli. His is riding better than ever and he has everything under control.
MXLarge: As a Swedish great, is it disappointing to see so little interest from Swedish riders in the world championships and why is that?
TH: If it’s disappointing for you – you can certainly understand how disappointed I have!
MXlarge: Do the greenies make it difficult to build motocross in Sweden?
TH: Yes, a lot of restrictions where to ride. I guess that’s the same in most of the countries. To be a good rider you must start young, ride just about every day for several hours, seven days a week – play ride and test your speed and be confident what you can do on a bike. Today you have difficulties to find places to ride like that.