The new champ is from northern Finland; he's 29 years old, has sandy blond hair, freckles and the only beard in the motocross top 10.
He has an outgoing and energetic personality, and is always making wry jokes with his friends. But he can also be a private person, usually just before a big race when he hides away in his caravan with his wife, Kaija, and their six-year-old daughter, Hanna.
Like anyone who has reached the top, in a sport as demanding as professional motocross, Mikkola has sacrificed the comforts of the easy life, and dedicated the last 10 difficult years to his career-in pursuit of the World Championship. In Luxembourg, at the last race of the 1974 season-it all paid of.
After the race, with tears in her eyes, Kaija said, "Heikki has been working so hard for 10 years, and now.....now I am so happy."
Traveling around Europe as a motocross racer has never been an easy profession, especially before there was money from the factories to pay for air fare and hotel bills. And being from Finland meant that Mikkola had to travel farther than the riders from central Europe, and often he had to drive thousands of kilometers just to arrive at the race track.
Today Mikkola spend a large part of the season living with his family in their small house trailer, or caravan, and traveling throughout Europe.
A home-loving type, Mikkola lives near a lake in Finland where he goes water skiing in his rare time off; and in the winter he keeps his racer's senses sharp by racing snowmobiles in professional events.
Mikkola is an aggressive rider who will sometimes sacrifice style and stability if he can gain a couple of tenths of a second, by holding the throttle open, when a prudent man would shut off.
The tape recording for this interview was made on the Sunday night after the Czechoslovakian Grand Prix. We made the tape while traveling from Prerov to Vienna, Austria, in Husqvarna team manager, Roland Arrehn's, Mercedes. Mikkola was in good spirits, having won his sixth G.P. heat of the season, and we stopped on the road for a bottle of Czech champagne for refreshment and to use up our spare Czech money that can't be taken out of the country.
Mikkola learned his English on the motocross circuit and he speaks what is commonly called "motocross English." He has an English vocabulary of about 200 words, but as you'll see, he succeeds in expressing what he wants to say.
Q. Heikki, where do you live in Finland?
A. Now I live in Hyvinkää, 30 miles from Helsinki, but before that I lived with my papa and mama in Sajaniemi, another town outside Helsinki.
Q. Where did you live with your parents?