T.C. Christenson, 1943-2023 [4-Time Drag Racing Champion]

T.C. Christenson, 1943-2023 - Hogslayer
T.C. Christenson aboard Hogslayer, the double-engine Norton dragster. Christenson won four NHRA Fuel Bike titles.

Thomas “T.C.” Christenson died on September 21, 2023. He was born on February 1, 1943.

Christenson’s long career in the motorcycle industry included running Sunset Motors in Kenosha, Wisc., for 54 years. In that time, he took Norton from being known as a great road bike brand to the top of the motorcycle drag racing world.

Hogslayer Merchandise Site to Close

From 1972 to 1975, Christenson, in partnership with John Gregory, co-builder of his double-engine Norton drag bike, won four consecutive NHRA Fuel Bike motorcycle drag racing world championships. They are the only world championships in drag racing for the British marque. Christenson had purchased Sunset Motors from Gregory in 1969.

So dominant was the Norton over the previously unbeatable Harley-Davidson Top Fuel bikes of the day that his bike became known as Hogslayer. Even after his drag racing days were behind him, Christenson remained loyal to the Norton brand.

Christenson and Gregory took the Norton drag bike to a new level by building Hogslayer III, a Top Fuel dragster with three modified Commando engines. However, Hogslayer III was never run in competition.

Christenson was inducted into the American Motorcyclist Association Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2005, and Hogslayer was placed for display in the National Motorcycle Museum in Solihull in England’s West Midlands.

In 2011, producer James Cutting released a documentary DVD on Christianson and Hogslayer—Hogslayer: The Unapproachable Legend. A 10th-anniversary edition was released last year.

I got to know T.C. through our mutual membership in the British Biker Cooperative (BBC). He was a free spirit who knew how to let the good times roll, both on and off the track. He was a man who loved a good laugh and a good story.

T.C. Christenson obituary
Leading the Burner Run at the annual BBC Rally was one of Christenson’s favorite things; this shot was taken before the 2011 event.

One of his favorite things to do was lead the Burner Run on Saturdays during the BBC’s annual Rally and Bike Show held at Eagle Cave Resort near Blue River, Wisc. T.C. retained his passion for both the speed and handling of the Norton. He would sling his 1974 Commando through the corners and howl down the straights at a rather immoderate velocity.

On one of the runs, he asked me for ideas on some new roads to cover and sights to see on the Burner Run, as I live in the area where the rally takes place. We made our way to Pier Park in the hamlet of Rockbridge in Richland County. T.C. fell in love with the place. He had never seen it before, and was fascinated by the sandstone escarpment, which has a radical overhang and two naturally eroded tunnels right through it. One is just big enough to walk through, and one is part of the bed of the Pine River.

T.C. Christenson 1943-2023
In 2001, Rickey and the Regimentals recorded their song, “HogSlayer”. Christenson autographed this copy.

I also have an autographed copy of Rickey and The Regimentals’ HogSlayer CD single. The cover features Hogslayer in front of Sunset Motors.

The back side of the CD single features Christenson with the triple-engine Norton Hogslayer III.

T.C. Christianson is survived by his wife, Brenda Harrison, daughters Marissa Miner and Caitlin Kroening, three grandchildren (Margot, Clay, and Bridgette), and many nieces and nephews.