Mark Blackwell, a pioneering racer in American motocross, a six-time AMA championship race team manager and a well-respected executive in the motorcycle industry, will be recognized as an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legend on Friday, Oct. 18, in Las Vegas, Nev.
Blackwell, an AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer inducted in 2000, will be honored alongside the class of 2013 as part of the AMA Legends Weekend, hosted by the American Motorcyclist Association, on Oct. 18-19, at the Green Valley Ranch Resort, Spa and Casino.
“Not only did Mark Blackwell rise to the top to become the 1971 American 500cc motocross champion, but he also raced internationally at a time when the Europeans dominated the sport,” said Jeffrey V. Heininger, chairman of the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation, which oversees the Hall of Fame. “His grit, a win in Switzerland, and a podium finish in Germany earned him fans worldwide.
“In addition, Blackwell is probably best known for his major contributions to American motorcycling through his work at Husqvarna, Suzuki and Victory,’ Heininger said. “He helped return Husqvarna to profitability in the United States, helped turn the motorcycle and ATV division around at Suzuki, and served as general manager of Polaris Industries’ fledgling Victory Motorcycle business during a critical growth period.”
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legends are existing members of the Hall of Fame whose lifetime accomplishments are spotlighted as part of the annual induction ceremony of new Hall of Famers. Blackwell joins Torsten Hallman, who was also inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000, as a 2013 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Legend. Hallman was instrumental in introducing the sport of motocross to America and founded the Thor brand.
Blackwell was born in southern California in 1953. By the late 1960s, motocross was about to arrive in America and Blackwell would become one of this country’s earliest stars. Blackwell rode Yamahas, then CZs, then in 1970 Blackwell earned a ride with Swedish maker Husqvarna at the age of 17. He won the American 500cc motocross champion in 1971 and started off the 1972 season with a win at the Daytona motocross. He then went to race in Europe, where he suffered a serious eye injury at the final Grand Prix of the 1972 season.
After his racing career, Blackwell taught at a popular motocross training school for Suzuki, managed the Suzuki Race Team to six AMA championships, did product development for a number of MX-related companies, and then went on to work in management for Suzuki, Husqvarna and Victory.
“This is an incredible honor for me for which I am very grateful,” Blackwell said. “To be recognized alongside the iconic Torsten Hallman makes it even more special. Torsten was the first European motocross racer I ever saw as the sport was coming to America, and his professionalism, education and business accomplishments had a huge impact on the sport, as well as my life and career.”
The AMA Legends Weekend kicks off with the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame induction ceremony Fridaynight, Oct. 18, in a star-studded gala event that honors the motorcycling world’s fast and famous. The next morning features the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Dave Mungenast Memorial Legends Reception, where the class of 2013, the 2013 Legends and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famers from previous years will be honored and interviewed on-stage in a relaxed setting that allows fans and friends to get up close and personal with motorcycling’s greatest.
Tickets are on sale now at www.motorcyclemuseum.org. Price is $140 for Friday night’s induction ceremony, and $20 for Saturday’s reception, which includes a continental breakfast. Additionally, rooms at the Green Valley Ranch can be reserved now for a special rate at https://resweb.passkey.com/
The AMA Legends Weekend is a fundraiser for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, located on the AMA campus in Pickerington, Ohio and overseen by the American Motorcycle Heritage Foundation. The mission of the AMHF is to celebrate, elucidate and preserve the rich tradition of motorcycling in America. For more information, please visit www.motorcyclemuseum.org.