Lars Larsson

October 28, 2016

Lars Larsson was a pioneering motocross and off-road racer from Sweden who helped introduce motocross racing to America in the late 1960s. He was a leading International Six Day Trials/Enduro (ISDT/ISDE) rider during the 1960s and 1970s. He earned multiple gold medals riding for the United States, Mexico and his native Sweden. In addition to his excellent racing record, Larsson was also instrumental in setting up the original Husqvarna dealership network across America in the late 1960s, which helped further off-road racing in this country. He also helped launch Torsten Hallman Original Racewear (THOR), which became a leading motocross racing gear and apparel company.  Larsson was born in on July 5, 1941 in Stockholm, Sweden. As a boy, he was fortunate to be able to hang around the shops of many of Sweden’s top racers. He especially admired his country’s world motocross champions from the 1950s, such as Sven Lundin and Bill Nilsson. After finishing school, Larsson took a job as a mechanic for Ford and a fellow worker, who was a motorcycle racer, helped get Larsson started in racing. His first race was in 1959 in a Swedish enduro. Larsson rode a Husqvarna 175. 

"The Husqvarna 175s were street bikes," Larsson recalled. "But we would convert them to off-road bikes by stripping them down and making them as light as possible. Even the Husky factory riders rode the same basic machine. It was a little more special of course, but it was still a 175." 

Larsson advanced through the junior and senior ranks and by 1964 he was a full-time professional racer. He raced the Swedish championships as well as other races across Europe. "We would train all winter," Larsson said. "We would jog in deep snow, cross-country ski, do gymnastics and then of course we would put studs on the tires and continue to practice on our motorcycles. And we would take off for Europe in early spring to start racing. I remember traveling all over Europe alone with my motorcycle in the trunk of an old Mercedes and sleeping on an air mattress. We made enough money to get by, but that was about it." In Sweden, motocross had team leagues as well as individual competition, and Larsson was part of a Swedish national championship-winning squad. He was just beginning to participate in world championship motocross events when an exciting opportunity was presented to him. Edison Dye was looking for a Swedish rider who had enough business experience to help set up dealerships in America. Representatives of Husqvarna recommended Larsson and in the fall of 1967 he arrived in America for what was to have been a year-long business trip. Three days after landing on U.S. soil, he participated in his first race, the Indiana State TT Championships. As Dye and Larsson uncrated a Husqvarna motocross racing bike, it attracted a large crowd of curious fellow riders and spectators. "They were looking at the bike and scratching their heads," Larsson smiles as he remembers. "They had never seen a Husky and told me that I would never be able to get traction with the knobby tires. They were all riding Bultacos and such with low pipes and flat-track tires. Of course I was a professional rider racing against amateurs and I won the race." It was the start of an incredible journey for Larsson in America that, instead of lasting for just one year, never ended. Shortly after his American racing debut, Larsson, who barely spoke English at the time, found himself traveling the country alone in a van with a couple of motorcycles in the back, going from motorcycle dealership to dealership across the country trying to set up a sales network for Husqvarna. "My job training consisted of Edison Dye pulling up to phone both and instructing me to rip out the motorcycle section of the yellow pages and start my calls. That was it! I was on my own after that. At first I didn’t understand the interstate system in America and how easily you could get around. So I drove on city streets from one dealership to another. My first stop was in Toledo, Ohio, and I went back and forth across the entire town on city streets about three or four times to the dealerships in town. I thought it would never end." But Larsson and the new-fangled Husky made quite an impression on many dealers. His stop at one dealership was particularly memorable. "I remember I stopped at Competition Cycles in Xenia, Ohio," said Larsson. "They told me to go out and show them the bike by riding in this field across from the dealership. Well I got out the bike and it fired on the first kick, which not many bikes did in those days, and then I ripped across this field doing wheelies. When I came back in they stood there with their eyes wide open and told me get them a shipment of bikes as quickly as possible." During the week Larsson would travel the country recruiting dealerships and on the weekends he would race. He raced in all types of events, from TTs to scrambles and enduros. It didn’t matter what it was, if there was a race in the area Larsson was there showing off the Husqvarnas, and winning most of the time. He was one of the riders Dye featured in scrambles races during the fall of 1967 and ’68 as European-style motocross was being introduced to America. "For the European riders it was a vacation after the rigors of the world championship," Larsson recalls. "It didn’t take long for the Americans to catch on and it became a lot more competitive by the early-1970s." Larsson was a leading rider when the AMA instituted the Inter-AM motocross series. In 1971, Larsson won four of the five Inter-AM 500cc non-national races on a special Husqvarna racer built with a titanium frame. His true forte became off-road racing. He was a leading national enduro rider through the 1970s and earned gold at the 1971 International Six Days Trials (later called the International Six Day Enduro) in Czechoslovakia riding for the U.S.A. Trophy squad.Larsson calls his victory at the classic Berkshire Enduro in the early 1970s as one of his most memorable. "Berkshire reminded me in many ways of Sweden," Larsson said. "I fell in love with that place. It was such a great environment for an enduro and was so well organized. In my heart Berkshire was the best of all enduro races in America." By the late 1970s, Larsson retired from racing professionally. During his career he was a factory rider for Husqvarna, Can-Am, Maico and Kawasaki. He continued to race on the amateur level and earned a World Vets Motocross Championship in 2001 at the age of 60. When inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, Larsson lived in San Diego running his business, which now exports American motocross products to Europe. Larsson says a day doesn’t go by without admiring what American riders have been able to accomplish in motocross. "A little part of me feels proud that I was at least a small part of that."

 

 

Tom, darn I know all along it had to be some Swede in you ! And Heineken is not Swedish, Pripps Blue is !

After selling out of Torsten Hallman Racing in -81 I fiddeled around for a year and then started Larsson Racing Enterprises, a export and consulting company.After been an importer for many years I thought maybe I could export instead. Linked up with a Mexican company and produced motocross gloves for JT Racing and Hi-Point Racing for several years and then started to export. First thing was Pro-Circuit pipes and the PC products  exporting it to Sweden which I am still doing. Today I am representing companies besides PC such as Xbrand googles, TuBliss and MSR.

In the end of the 80ies I started to sell US cars to Sweden , mostly “muscle cars” from the 50’s and 60’s, many nice ones and many “basket cases” as this is a big hobby in Sweden and it keeps going although like anything else, has it’s up’s and downs.

In 2001 I had a phonecall from the American speedway star Greg Hancock which turned in to a long term venture. Setting up a team with mecanics etc and then out on the World GP tour with him and the team for 8-9 years, this was another world from motocross I’ll say.

Another fun story was in early 90’s when I was denied to ride the 6-days for USA due to the fact I had no time to ride the qualifier around the country. I then went to Mexico City and met with the President of the Mexican AMA (FMM) and got 3 licenses and went to ride 6-day with 2 other americans as a Club team. First “Mexican” to get a Gold medal at 6.days ! This turned in to a good thing for the sport down there and after several trips and races I got them to send guys to ride 6-days which they still do with National Teams etc.

As far as racing this days, I “hang” with the Motocross Action guys, a great group of people , racing on Saturdays! I guess I be racing until I fall over as I have been and I am addicted to motorcycling !

Lars

 

 

Från: Tom White

Skickat: den 21 september 2016 21:06

Till: Lars Larsson

Ämne: Lars AMA HOF doc

 

Lars,

 

Could you please look at this doc and most important tell me what you’ve done since you professional racing days.  Then send me that info please.

 

tw

ps, Found out yesterday that my mom’s parents were both born in Sweden.  And yet the only Swedish word I know is Heineken - is that Swedish?  haha!

 

Lars Larsson was a pioneering motocross and off-road racer from Sweden who helped introduce motocross racing to America in the late 1960s. He was a leading International Six Day Trials/Enduro (ISDT/ISDE) rider during the 1960s and 1970s. He earned multiple gold medals riding for the United States, Mexico and his native Sweden. In addition to his excellent racing record, Larsson was also instrumental in setting up the original Husqvarna dealership network across America in the late 1960s, which helped further off-road racing in this country. He also helped launch Torsten Hallman Original Racewear (THOR), which became a leading motocross racing gear and apparel company. 

 

Larsson was born in on July 5, 1941 in Stockholm, Sweden. As a boy, he was fortunate to be able to hang around the shops of many of Sweden’s top racers. He especially admired his country’s world motocross champions from the 1950s, such as Sven Lundin and Bill Nilsson. After finishing school, Larsson took a job as a mechanic for Ford and a fellow worker, who was a motorcycle racer, helped get Larsson started in racing. His first race was in 1959 in a Swedish enduro. Larsson rode a Husqvarna 175. 

 

"The Husqvarna 175s were street bikes," Larsson recalled. "But we would convert them to off-road bikes by stripping them down and making them as light as possible. Even the Husky factory riders rode the same basic machine. It was a little more special of course, but it was still a 175." 

 

Larsson advanced through the junior and senior ranks and by 1964 he was a full-time professional racer. He raced the Swedish championships as well as other races across Europe. 

 

"We would train all winter," Larsson said. "We would jog in deep snow, cross-country ski, do gymnastics and then of course we would put studs on the tires and continue to practice on our motorcycles. And we would take off for Europe in early spring to start racing. I remember traveling all over Europe alone with my motorcycle in the trunk of an old Mercedes and sleeping on an air mattress. We made enough money to get by, but that was about it." 

 

In Sweden, motocross had team leagues as well as individual competition, and Larsson was part of a Swedish national championship-winning squad. He was just beginning to participate in world championship motocross events when an exciting opportunity was presented to him. 

 

Edison Dye was looking for a Swedish rider who had enough business experience to help set up dealerships in America. Representatives of Husqvarna recommended Larsson and in the fall of 1967 he arrived in America for what was to have been a year-long business trip. Three days after landing on U.S. soil, he participated in his first race, the Indiana State TT Championships. As Dye and Larsson uncrated a Husqvarna motocross racing bike, it attracted a large crowd of curious fellow riders and spectators. 

 

"They were looking at the bike and scratching their heads," Larsson smiles as he remembers. "They had never seen a Husky and told me that I would never be able to get traction with the knobby tires. They were all riding Bultacos and such with low pipes and flat-track tires. Of course I was a professional rider racing against amateurs and I won the race." 

 

It was the start of an incredible journey for Larsson in America that, instead of lasting for just one year, never ended. 

 

Shortly after his American racing debut, Larsson, who barely spoke English at the time, found himself traveling the country alone in a van with a couple of motorcycles in the back, going from motorcycle dealership to dealership across the country trying to set up a sales network for Husqvarna. 

 

"My job training consisted of Edison Dye pulling up to phone both and instructing me to rip out the motorcycle section of the yellow pages and start my calls. That was it! I was on my own after that. At first I didn’t understand the interstate system in America and how easily you could get around. So I drove on city streets from one dealership to another. My first stop was in Toledo, Ohio, and I went back and forth across the entire town on city streets about three or four times to the dealerships in town. I thought it would never end." 

 

But Larsson and the new-fangled Husky made quite an impression on many dealers. His stop at one dealership was particularly memorable. 

 

"I remember I stopped at Competition Cycles in Xenia, Ohio," said Larsson. "They told me to go out and show them the bike by riding in this field across from the dealership. Well I got out the bike and it fired on the first kick, which not many bikes did in those days, and then I ripped across this field doing wheelies. When I came back in they stood there with their eyes wide open and told me get them a shipment of bikes as quickly as possible." 

 

During the week Larsson would travel the country recruiting dealerships and on the weekends he would race. He raced in all types of events, from TTs to scrambles and enduros. It didn’t matter what it was, if there was a race in the area Larsson was there showing off the Husqvarnas, and winning most of the time. He was one of the riders Dye featured in scrambles races during the fall of 1967 and ’68 as European-style motocross was being introduced to America. 

 

"For the European riders it was a vacation after the rigors of the world championship," Larsson recalls. "It didn’t take long for the Americans to catch on and it became a lot more competitive by the early-1970s." 

 

Larsson was a leading rider when the AMA instituted the Inter-AM motocross series. In 1971, Larsson won four of the five Inter-AM 500cc non-national races on a special Husqvarna racer built with a titanium frame. His true forte became off-road racing. He was a leading national enduro rider through the 1970s and earned gold at the 1971 International Six Days Trials (later called the International Six Day Enduro) in Czechoslovakia riding for the U.S.A. Trophy squad. 

 

Larsson calls his victory at the classic Berkshire Enduro in the early 1970s as one of his most memorable. 

 

"Berkshire reminded me in many ways of Sweden," Larsson said. "I fell in love with that place. It was such a great environment for an enduro and was so well organized. In my heart Berkshire was the best of all enduro races in America." 

 

By the late 1970s, Larsson retired from racing professionally. During his career he was a factory rider for Husqvarna, Can-Am, Maico and Kawasaki. He continued to race on the amateur level and earned a World Vets Motocross Championship in 2001 at the age of 60. 

 

When inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2002, Larsson lived in San Diego running his business, which now exports American motocross products to Europe. 

 

Larsson says a day doesn’t go by without admiring what American riders have been able to accomplish in motocross. 

 

"A little part of me feels proud that I was at least a small part of that."

Edison Dye

November 06, 2015

By Edison Dye

 

I was born in Oskaloosa, Iowa on May 10, 1918. My father was a cameraman who took pictures; my mother was a telephone operator. She did a lot of business with the railroad.  I moved to St. Joseph, MO and then my mother worked for a big tile factory. By then my father was an insurance man. I still remember going to Kansas City and seeing Eddie Peabody on the banjo - he was the best. By then my father was a schoolteacher.  My uncle Joe and fa

Biography of M. Edison Dye mily had moved to Los Angeles, CA. My uncle Joe was the biggest  foreman and he was in charge of building the sewer system for Los Angeles. He came to St. Joseph and brought my mother and I out west to Los Angeles. My father went to Denver. I still remember going over the wooden road across the desert between Yuma and El Centro.  I graduated from Hoover High School in San Diego and then started college at San Diego State in 1937. I studied Aeronautical Engineering. Soon it became apparent that builders were becoming more in demand. I worked for Doug Corrigan – “Wrongway Corrigon” at Ryan School of Aeronautics. He used to fly my friend Jim Fowble and I to Mojave Dry Lake where they had hot rod races. My roadster once made the speed of 137 miles per hour. I had a Cragger head with dual wind field carburetors. Later on I went to work for Solar Aircraft and became one of the best fitters in the business. Joel Thorne, who held a world speed record, had equipment better than the Army or the Navy. The whole shell would go on his car with 20 S fasteners. His car was a beautiful sight. Joel Thorne was called “The Gentleman Driver” and has been the only person to start an Indy 500 race and stop in 3 laps to pick up his driving gloves. Art Sparks worked for Joel Thorne. He built an engine that held the track record for 5 years. During the war, Joel got vertigo over Los Angeles and dove straight into the ground.  Joe Gonzales also worked for Joel

Thorne and was one of the best engine mechanics at the time and one of my best friends.  Joel Thorne and Howard Hughes were both Texas millionaires, whose fathers; made their money in oil. Claude Adams was the world’s finest aluminum body builder. He had me go to start a factory like Solar with a special manifold that I could build. American tanks could run under water as long as the exhaust and intake was above the water. The manifolds were waterproof. So I duplicated the Solar Factory in Texas for Gulberson Diesel Engine. The first week I was in Texas, World War II started, Sunday, December 7th, 1941. My wife’s uncle won the Dole Pineapple Race to be the first plane to make it to Hawaii. His name was Colonel Art Goebel. He was married to a Jergens lotion heir.  He won $25,000 prize money – in those days that was a lot of money. The Vice President of Solar became a personnel director at the new Consolidated Vultee plant in Fort Worth, TX. He was after me to help him build B-24 bombers for the Army.  I still remember a concrete slab 2 miles long in the middle of Texas as they asked me if I could build a pilots floor. At that time, I would try anything! I said yes I could. Well, the floors turned out to be 1 ½” too narrow so the first B24 flew was built 1 ½” too narrow.  At top production we build a bomber an hour. I had 1500 planes in yard and flight waiting for me to perfect the making and installment of the front turret. The sheet aluminum could only be .20 thousandth out of round; otherwise the turret would not spin that easy.

 

I was General Foreman of fuselage nose and Bombay. At the wars end I had 7,500 employees. So I was General Forman of Dept. 43, B-24 nose and General Foreman Dept 63 Fuselage B-32 that was built to the end of the war.  Shortly after the end of the war, I quit my job and went home to help my mother. She was a very aggressive and hard worker. I take after her. I got the idea to have a tour in Europe, to see the world. My first tour was with English bikes – BSA Matchless and Triumph ending on the Isle of Man for the big TT races. The races impressed me so much I had to go again. In the meantime I had bought a BMW R695 – the fastest bike

they had at the time. On a Harley if I rode from Indio to El Centro my hands would be numb, with the BMW’s, no vibration. It was a comfortable bike to ride so I decided to go the BMW route, so when I was in Germany I looked for something to take back to pay

some of my expenses. I tried Zundapp – they were a co-op during the war. They built a massive 3-wheel machine gun and cannon mounted big sidecar rig. They also built small motorcycles – 50cc, 75cc, 100 & 125cc. The 125 was very good. Sometimes with a light rider they would beat a Husky 250 in moto-cross. They were a good company.  I had heard some about the Husqvarna in Sweden, so I called the factory and made an appointment with them in Copenhagen, Denmark. We had a meeting and they agreed to sell me two bikes – one to ride in competition and one to show. I took them back to the states. I had seen Malcolm Smith ride at the track, a circular one in El Cajon. So I went to see him in Riverside. He me with me, I told him about Husqvarna, he said fine, but he rode a Greeves. I won’t back out, but I will try your bike out and let you know how good it is. WE went up in the hills. Malcolm was gone a long time, when he came back he had a funny little smile that only Malcolm has. He said, great bike, I want to try it

Sunday at a desert race. He came in 1st – 22 minutes ahead of the 2nd place man. After that Malcolm became one of my best riders. He rode for me: I think 6 years at least.  Malcolm is the best long distance rider in the world.  The first year, I sold 100 bikes. The second year, I sold 500 bikes, then a thousand. I only sold my 500 bikes to selected riders. I thought about how I could make my sales better. I had seen motocross in Europe. The 2nd year I brought Lars Larsson over from Sweden. The plan I had was Lars would race the bike and demonstrate the bike. I would have trailer full of Husky’s to sell. If this worked, fine. I had three pick-ups around the country. I would fly from one to the other; 1 for the East, 1 for the Mid-West and I for the West. Lars was a great rider. He had a great personality and helped me a lot. He tried very hard. I was traveling in Europe with Torsten Hallman. We spent the week in

Praque, Czechoslovakia and the week racing in Belgium, Holland, Germany, and Switzerland. I got the idea; why not bring the top riders to America after their season ended. I would pay them all good, but have little prize money – only enough to make it

interesting. So I paid their airfare, good appearance money, and a little prize money. The first year, I brought over Torsten Hallman for a nine race series and he won all 23 motos.

 

The second year, 1967, I brought six riders: Joel Robert, Torsten Hallman, Roger DeCoster, Dave Bickers, Arne Kring, and Ake Johnson. There was no competition.  When they passed the first turn, you could throw a blanket and cover all 6. Roger DeCoster was my favorite rider. He always had so much style and fancy jumps. The next year we brought 20 riders including the Husqvarna Racing Team. We were on our way. The date of our first Trans Am moto-cross at Pepperell, Mass. was 1967 in the fall.

The last lap Torsten rode the whole lap on one wheel to show the guys how it was done.   They Torsten went on to Kennewick, WA to ride in a special cross-country race that he won. The first race started in Massachusetts and the last in Hawaii at the Naval Air base.  One year we went to Tahiti, one in Canada near Hamilton, my daughter ran that one.  In 1967 the Husqvarna factory and I started a company to take over the import and  promotion of the bikes. At that time I started International Accessories and came up with several products that would provide better protection for the riders – such as chest pads, knee and elbow pads which I bought from Jofa in Sweden. They are a big company that provided protective wear to hockey players. I looked at it and saw the usefulness for the motocross riders.  After several years of International Accessories I woke up one day and decided to lock up my business and stop racing and not have anything to do. I had spent the biggest part of my life racing on the weekends, selling bikes during the week and pushing my products during the week and Holidays. I had had enough. I would retire now. I have been everywhere, done everything and as I look back on my life, I wouldn’t change a thing. I did the best I could under the conditions for moto-cross.

This bio was written for Edison by Edison’s long-time employee and friend Heather Brigham in late October of 1999 for publishing at the White Brothers World Veteran Motocross Championship were Edison would receive the Lifetime Motocross Achievement Award.

 

May 19th, 2007

Written by Tom White

Edison Dye – The Father of American Motocross

 

Edison Dye, often referred to as “The Father of American Motocross” passed away in Lemon Grove, California on May 10th, 2007, his 89th birthday. He is survived by his daughter Shirley Evancho, grandson Brent Evancho, and great-grandson Aaron Evancho.  Former motocross star and Honolulu Councilmember John DeSoto says of Mr. Dye, “Edison Dye has left an indelible mark on motocross. He inspired a new approach to American motorcycle racing by introducing world-class riders from the European race circuit. Individuals such as Roger DeCoster, Joel Robert, Lars Larsson, and Torsten Hallman arrived in this country, unleashing their “European-style” of riding on an unsuspecting American continent; forever changing the level performance of motocross racing. He helped build a multi-billion dollar International industry that allowed many of us riders to achieve our wildest dreams. In fact, many of today’s top riders are probably unaware of his contributions to our sport.”  “Edison really enjoyed working with the European motocross riders and the traveling, the racetracks, and all the experiences that came with the races,” says his daughter Shirley. “He loved the money that he made and loved to spend it on the young ladies. Edison could be very flashy at times and loved to be the center of attention. My father was very happy in his last few years when the motorcycle community put him in the spotlight once again.” Private funeral services were held on May 15th.

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Malcolm Smith, with Roger DeCoster, and Chuck Minert looking on, congratulates an emotional Edison Dye at the1999 White Brothers World Veteran Motocross Championship on receiving the Motocross Lifetime Achievement Award.