Hall Of Fame
Mary McGee’s 1974 Husqvarna 250 Mag
Cut open a geode sometime, and what you find may surprise. What looks like an ordinary boulder on the outside is glistening crystalline inside, one of geology’s neatest phenomena.
Visitors to the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame might feel the same wonder while beholding Hall of Famer Mary McGee’s vintage Husqvarna. Although standard on the outside, it contains the spirit of one of America’s most remarkable racers.
McGee, who turned 83 in 2020, raced this bike in vintage motocross from 2002 to 2013, her last year of competition. After two final trail-riding seasons, she presented her ’74 Husky 250 Mag to the Hall of Fame during her 2018 induction.
But there’s a huge backstory to Mary and her purple Husqvarna. In the late 1950s, McGee was among a handful of female car racers. While Mary was at the 1960 Santa Barbara Road Races, sponsor Vasek Polak suggested she try motorcycle racing, since Cal Club and AFM shared meetings at the time.
“Vasek was a motorcycle racing champion in Czechoslovakia,” McGee explained. “While watching the bikes, he said, ‘Mary should race motorcycles, make even more smooth in the car.’ I thought, ‘I’m not going to road race a motorcycle!’ Then, I took a breath and said, ‘Sure, I’ll give it a try.’”
Road racing a Honda CB92 paved the way for Mary to participate in America’s first official motocross race, a Wes Cooley Sr.-promoted event in Castaic, Calif., in 1965.
“Wes had worked in Europe in 1964 and ’65, and, after returning to California, he called and said, ‘Get out your desert sled. I’m going to have a motocross.’ I said, ‘What’s that?’”
She finished 12th in the Junior class that day.
Mary would later race CZs, Huskys and Can-Ams in the Mexican 1000 and Mint 400. But she always preferred Huskys, leading her to contest both Women’s and age-group vintage classes on this this purple 250 Mag.
“What I like most about this Husky is that it’s easy to ride,” she said. “Weight the outside peg, put your knee into the tank, and it turns easily.”
What other female octogenarian would say that?
That’s because, in 1966, Mary McGee personally studied 2000 Hall of Fame inductee Torsten Hallman’s first race in America, literally showing everyone how it’s done.
“He was so fast and rode so beautifully that I copied him,” McGee admitted. “So, if I have a riding style, I guess I can say I got it from Torsten!” —John L. Stein