help_outline Skip to main content

News / Stories

Pioneer of Women - Theresa Wallach

Lori Faber, Member #2384  | Published on 10/1/2020

“Motorcycling is a tool with which you can accomplish something meaningful.” - Theresa Wallach

There are lots of pioneer women in motorcycling history that have paved the way for us on many fronts, and one of them is Theresa Wallach. She was born in 1909 in the United Kingdom and died on her 90th birthday in the United States. She was the first woman military dispatch rider in the British army where she did 7 years of service. As a motorcycle racer, she was the first woman to get the prized Brooklyn Gold Star for topping 100mph, and she did it on a borrowed 350cc Norton. 
Theresa Wallach on the Norton that won her the Brooklyn Gold Star
 
She also received a scholarship for engineering and was a mechanic, author, riding school instructor and much more, all of which got her inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2003.
In 1935, Theresa and friend Florence Blenkiron decided to take a trip across Africa on a 600cc single-cylinder Panther with a sidecar and trailer. On that trip, they went 13,500 miles in 8 months with almost no roads and no compass.

Theresa Wallach and Florence Blenkiron with their Panther motorcycle with sidecar and trailer

They encountered many wild animals and slithery serpents along the way, and they even had to rebuild the motorcycle engine from scratch and create their own temporary tow-hitch in the desert when theirs broke. Wow, no rescue service out there. Theresa wrote a book about this trip fittingly called The Rugged Road. 
 Theresa Wallach in Africa


Later, Theresa fulfilled a dream and went on a 2-1/2 year trek with just her sleeping bag and covered 32,000 miles through Canada, U.S., and Mexico. She decided she liked the states best, so she later opened a dealership in Chicago selling and servicing British bikes. It was there in 1959 when 3 inexperienced businessmen came in to buy bikes, and she refused to sell them until the buyers learned the basics of riding from her. So she started motorcycle riding lessons at her dealership, and she always thought the best teaching style was one-on-one. 
Theresa Wallach and Florence Blenkiron

She also helped form the Women’s International Motorcycling Association and became their first vice president. In 1970, she published Easy Motorcycle Riding and later opened the Easy Motorcycle Riding Academy in Phoenix, Arizona. She’s definitely earned my vote for her spot in the Hall of Fame and in motorcycling history. I just love to hear about people that live to fight for something good. My kinda girl.



©2020 THE ANTIQUE MOTORCYCLE CLUB OF AMERICA, INC.
P.O. Box 663, HUNTSVILLE, AL 35804