Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Hogslayer-T.C. Christensen

During the 1950's in Kenosha, Wisconsin, T.C. Christensen was riding and racing a different type of bike than the norm. Drawn to the sportiness of British motorcycles, Christensen rode a BSA, which he thought was the fastest bike in town. By wrenching at a BSA garage and racing in his spare time, most of Christensen's pursuits were dedicated to speed.

In the early fall of 1962, he laid eyes on what he would later call the "Blue Behemoth, a Norton 650 that would change his life. A one-armed man who owned the bike was paying someone to race his bike. The "Blue Behemoth" turned out to be shockingly fast, during a street race, it blew past Christensen's buddy's BSA. Christensen was smitten with the bike's speed - he had to have one.

Just a few weeks after that race, that very Norton 650 would enter Christensen's life through a strange twist of fate. When leaving a party the owner of the bike accelerated to about 90 mph and was cut off by a car. Killed on impact, Christensen ended up buying the wreckage, hoping to build a dedicated race bike. Incorporating a Triumph rigid frame, he implanted the Norton engine, adding a full fairing and a large rear wheel.

He took the bike to Union Road drag strip and the Great Lakes Dragaway, where he competed in his first legitimate races and won in the top gas category-with what was essentially a street bike. He moved into nitro fuel in 1963 and fully dedicated himself to racing in 1969. At Bowling Green, Kentucky he would annihilate the competition and set several records.

He and his team built their first double engine "Hogslayer" in 1970 after being deeply impressed by Borris Murray's double-engine Triumph. "Hogslayer 1" became one of the first drag bikes to incorporate fuel injection because carburetors could not deliver enough fuel to the engines to make them competitive. In 1970, the "Hogslayer 1" became the first bike to exceed 180 miles per hour in the quarter-mile. Always staying a step ahead of the competition, Christensen and his crew would always counter with innovations that were simple and inventive. Over the years they built a "Hogslayer 2" and by 1970 the "Hogslayer 3" would pull the quarter-mile in the mid-7 seconds.

During a warm-up run in Columbus, Ohio, the steering stops snapped off and forced him to bail off the motorcycle, sliding across the tarmac and registering a speed of 150 mph. He escaped with relatively minor injuries.

In 1977, after nearly a decade of dominating the drag strip without factory support, the "Hogslayer" retired from competition. That was also the same year Norton went out of business. T.C. Christensen was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2005 and the final iteration of the "Hogslayer" is on display at the British National Motorcycle Museum.
T.C. Christensen on the Hogslayer III
Christensen on the Hogslayer at Edgewater Dragway in Cleves, Ohio

Story from Legendary Motorcycles

1 comment:

sbinplano said...

A couple of corrections. The drag strip is located in Union Grove, not Union Road and is Great Lakes Dragway. Also not mentioned and many think this is why TC was so fast was the development of the "slipper clutch" which was made of various parts from various different machines, including an earthmover. The slipper clutch made it possible for the drag bike to not use wheelspin as a clutch and lowered 1/4 mile times