T.C. Christenson first made Kenosha, Wisconsin (and international), headlines by setting off a chemistry-set bomb in front of the Kenosha P.D. that made a bit more of an impact than he’d intended. Later, T.C. turned his considerable talent for manufacturing excitement to racing motorcycles around town, where he met John Gregory, a laid-off-and-on-again American Motors employee and aspiring engineer who’d finally had enough of the assembly line and opened Sunset Motors in 1959.
By 1963, the Gregory-Christenson Racing Team had swung into action at Great Lakes Speedway, and by 1972 (after witnessing Boris Murray’s twin-engine Triumph in action at Bowling Green, Kentucky), their Norton-powered “Hogslayer” was ready to roll, complete with custom Hilborn fuel injection, a two-speed trans Gregory built from a Borg-Warner overdrive unit, and a custom 8-inch slick.
The rest is history, much of it well-documented, particularly in this new DVD. In 1972, Hogslayer won the NHRA finals at Ontario, California, on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” Unfortunately, the network wanted too much cash for the footage, so you won’t see it here. You will get to hear Christenson and Gregory tell the story, which might be even better.
Too much talking head is the bane of many a moto documentary, but T.C.’s a natural storyteller with plenty of good material, and Gregory’s not far off the pace. With the accents and the motorcycle shop backdrop, it’s all so much fun you’re surprised T.C. and John G. aren’t clutching cold ones (so the reviewer clutched one in their honor). ABC can keep its reel; what we get lots of instead is period-perfect Super-8 amateur footage that takes you right back.
Off the track, Team Hogslayer often traveled to the races with half of Kenosha in tow, taking over Holiday Inns and lounges wherever it ranged. “When we were racing, we were racing,” says T.C. “When we weren’t, we were having a good time. Didn’t matter what we did the night before, when we got on the track, it was on.”
Hogslayer was so successful, in fact, T.C. and JG were invited to Europe and feted by Norton at the Hotel Savoy (four waiters carried Hogslayer into the ballroom), and the team went on to help Norton design the Commando cylinder head and the Fastback.
“That bike,” says T.C. of the Hogslayer, “turned into our passport to the world, without any money, built by all our friends, for half of nothin’… It never was about money. We went fast for the thrill of it all. A slap on the back and a beer is all it winds up being.”
The Edge Ltd.
772 Valley Forge Dr.
Slinger, WI 53086
Price…Blue-ray $22, DVD $18
- This feel-good story needed to be told
- T.C. and John Gregory are great storytellers
- Smoky motorcycle burnouts
- Too bad the suits at “Wild World of Sports” wouldn’t share
- It’s not Scorsese, but that’s part of the appeal
- Wish we’d paid more attention to the ’70s