It was all champagne, championship T-shirts, podium selfies for social media, and shiny trophies in Las Vegas for Jason Anderson, Zach Osborne, and the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team. It was the first Saturday night in May of 2018, and they had just pulled off what was unthinkable just five years ago: Husqvarna had swept two of three classes in Monster Energy AMA Supercross. Live global television captured the celebration as the team moved in one joyous mob from inside the stadium out to the parking lot, where their massive, state-of-the-art racing and hospitality semis were already filled with friends, family, corporate sponsors, and well-wishers. It was a far cry from the last time—and only time—a racer had won a premier-class AMA title on a Husqvarna like Anderson had just done.
Forty-two years ago, on an August day just outside New Orleans, along a stretch of the Mississippi River that was still popular with alligators, Kent Howerton claimed the 1976 AMA 500cc National Motocross Championship. Howerton and his Husqvarna CR360 took the measure of Kawasaki’s Gary Semics at the Popeyes Famous Fried Chicken-backed Battle of New Orleans, grabbing the title in the seven-race series by a mere seven points.
Husqvarna Motorcycles GmbH was originally known as the Jonkoping Rifle Factory, in the business of making muskets by the decree of a Swedish king back in 1689. The Scandinavian nation was long known for its Viking warriors, but times had changed and guns were needed. Husqvarna started making small engines for things like chainsaws and sewing machines and eventually motorcycles in 1903. Husqvarna soon went racing, and by the 1960s, its lightweight two-stroke motocross bikes ruled the FIM Motocross World Championship, winning 14 titles in the 250cc and 500cc divisions.