Cycle News

Cycle News 2021 Issue 50 December 14

Cycle News is a weekly magazine that covers all aspects of motorcycling including Supercross, Motocross and MotoGP as well as new motorcycles

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Page 170 of 179

G unnar Lindstrom was in- troduced to the podium by Bill France himself at the 1971 Daytona Prize Ceremony, a huge banquet that used to be held at the convention center on Sunday night after the Daytona 200. Lind- strom had just won the very first supercross race held at Daytona, at a time before the term "super- cross" had even been invented. Lindstrom came to the podium and boldly predicted that maybe someday the motocross race at Daytona would be bigger than the 200. Gunnar's big prediction was greeted with laughter—the crowd thought that maybe the young Swede was joking. But he wasn't. And even though at the time the idea may have been laughable, looking back, Lindstrom's fore- sight was amazing. Looking into the full grandstands at the Dayto- na Supercross (these days), one could plainly see what event is the premier race of Bike Week—at least to race fans. Lindstrom was born in 1943 in Sweden, where he was raised on a farm. He became interested in motors at a very young age. As a teenager, he bought a basket- case motor and rebuilt it to mount on his bicycle. "I was as surprised as anyone that it actually ran," Lindstrom remembers. Strict Swedish mo- toring rules prevented riders from taking up motorcycling before the age of 16, but Lindstrom broke those rules and rode all around with older buddies. He grew up not far from the Husqvarna factory, and his childhood ambition was to design motorcy- cles for the company. As soon as he turned 16, Lindstrom began rac- ing in all types of mo- torcycle competition in Sweden, racing on street bikes that he'd modified into off-road machines. His first race was a trials event. "I knew nothing about trials," Lindstrom admitted, "but I was just happy to paint a number on my motorcycle and say I was a racer." At first, Lindstrom studied ag- riculture in college, with the idea of staying in the family business. However, he soon decided to follow his dream and switched to engineering. During college, he continued to race enduros and motocross, with good success. After graduating from college, Lindstrom fulfilled his lifelong ambition and went to work for Husqvarna. His first job for the company was as a test rider. His job was to ride 200 kilometers per day—year-round—and during the long Swedish winter months, his bike was fitted with ski outrig- gers. He then moved into engi- neering, developing chassis and suspension. Lindstrom's racing career continued, and he became one of the top Swedish motocross riders and also competed in se- lect Grand Prix motocross races throughout Europe. At the end of 1967, Lindstrom's life took an unexpected turn when he was invited to race in a motocross se- ries held during the off-season in Australia and New Zealand. While there, he met American off-road great J.N. Roberts. Lindstrom won several races in the Austra- lian and New Zealand series, and Roberts asked him to come to America to team with him in the CN III ARCHIVES P170 Gunnar's Big Prediction BY LARRY LAWRENCE Gunnar Lindstrom en route to winning the 250cc motocross race at Daytona in 1971.

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