Let’s start with a motocross history lesson.
The Owyhee Motorcycle Club was formed in 1940 to promote motorcycling in what’s known as the Treasure Valley of Idaho. They’ve held countless events out there, everything from TT to trials, poker runs to enduro. As a matter of fact, motocross history was made there on June 25, 1972, when a California kid named Gary Jones became the first American to win a major international motocross race, blitzing his 170-pound Yamaha “Y2” MX 250 to all three moto wins at the Boise Inter-Am. Finishing second was Torsten Hallman, the Swedish motocross legend around whom promoter Edison Dye had built his Inter-Am Series in the late sixties and early seventies. Cycle News described Jones’ day as “an absolutely superb performance of motocross artistry”—and it would have to have been to finally beat the Europeans, Hallman included. It was such a surprise that the promoter didn’t have a tape of “The Star-Spangled Banner” to play during the trophy ceremony, and the person who sang it before the race having left shortly thereafter. Jones’ non-contingency bonus for being the first American to do it? A crisp $100 bill.
Hallman’s Inter-Am tour marked the birth of professional motocross in America. The series itself disappeared in 1975, a victim of the growing interest of supercross—which, coincidentally, started as an Inter-Am race held in the Los Angeles Coliseum. And though the actual series never returned to Boise after that ’72 race, the spirit of those pioneering days remains embedded in the dirt of the Owyhee Motorcycle Club, which is still running strong.
For more than a dozen years now, Racer X publisher Scott Wallenberg, who lives in Boise, has been hosting a vintage race (along with longtime friend Tim Kennedy) at Owyhee called the Racer X Inter-Am. It’s an homage to those early days of motocross, a reunion of old friends and new.
“Boise is a long way from anywhere, so we knew we had to try and make it as easy and inexpensive for people to attend, hence no gate fees and no camping fees,” Wallenberg says. “Our inaugural event drew 67 entries and a total of six sponsors. This year we have 640 entries and 30 sponsors.”
Wallenberg also likes to bring in old racing friends and industry legends as guests of honor, including Gary Jones, Damon Bradshaw, Broc Glover, David Bailey, Danny LaPorte, Bob Hannah, Pierre Karsmakers, Thorlief Hansen, Hakan Andersson. . . .
Being of Swedish descent, Wallenberg has a soft spot for the original kings of motocross, hence the last couple of names on that list. And sooner or later, he wanted the ultimate Inter-Am guest of honor, Torsten Hallman, to return to Boise.
“For many years, I have had a standing invitation from my longtime friend Scott to visit his Inter-Am race in Boise,” Hallman explains. “Unfortunately, other appointments at the same time had always been a hinder, at least until this year. My friend Hakan Eriksson and I both wanted to finally come, so we booked our tickets from Stockholm for Chicago.”