Interviews

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Heikki Mikkola with his wife Kaija.
The coming season
with Mikkola
By C. Wackerman
I met Heikki Mikkola on the 18th and 19th November. In contrast to his colleague motocross riders he didn’t finished the Trans-AMA series because Heikki had sprained the ligaments of his left foot. Quietly and relax Heikki appeared at the time agreed upon during his "long holiday". Coming from the Husqvarna factory and accompanied by his friend Juha Tirinen, for some years the Finnish Husqvarna importer, Heikki was in an excellent mood for this interview. Heikki was born on the 6th of July 1945 in Mikkeli, a village about 200 kilometres at the north of Helsinki. He is the third child of a family existing from 2 boys and a girl. His brother, who is 4 years older, is teacher on a primary school and his sister, who is 2 years older, is professor (teacher) on a gymnasium in Helsinki. His father, working at a saw-mill, moved to Sajaniemi shortly after Heikki's birth. There Heikki went to school from his 6th to his 14th and he started as a student mechanic at a car garage. On his 14th he worked as a loader on a crane to load tree-trunk’s on a trailer, which they brought from Sajaniemi to the port of Helsinki. During this work he got an excellent condition. From his 16th up to his 18th he followed a training on a school for car mechanics and there he gained his diploma also. He left the school in the autumn of 1963 and started as a mechanic at the importer of Bedford. It was during that winter that he bought the old Husqvarna of Matti Pesonen.

C.W.: How did you come to know Matti Pesonen?
H.M.: Matti and I are both from Sajaniemi. It was Matti who stood at the beginning of my career. Matti had bought a 250cc Husqvarna from 1963. If he went to go training than he invited me, I helped him a little with the maintenance of his machine and at the end of his training he let me ride also. Because he was already more experience to take part in motocross races, he showed me the things which I did wrong. On a day I could borrow his machine for two laps, I have the jitters and ride very careful. Matti wanted to buy a new Husqvarna and he moved me to take over his ’63 model. I agreed because this way I could ride races with Matti. He drove at the seniors and I at the juniors. We participated both in the 250cc ice-racing championship, in January 1964 Matti finished third, behind Jarno Saarinen and Teuvo Länsivuori. In my class I finished sixth. At that time we used still tires without spikes, which were very nice. The final has been very exciting between Jarno, Teuvo and Matti, the three of them were superior on the other opponents. In the Spring I started my first season in the motocross. I won all the races, without problems. I trained with Matti, who was a real stylist, he went very fast but not for this way long. For example, if we trained 15 laps in the sand, than I followed his rear wheel for 10 laps or stayed near him, than he
became tired and the remaining laps I ride away from him. Matti have never obtained the condition which is necessary to reach the top of motocross, for this reason he aimed more at road-racing, there the physical condition came on the second place. But because Matti are very passionate, a good mechanic and especially is been very self-willed, he has commanded much admiration in the field of the road-racing.

C.W.: What do you think of the ambiance in Finland in that time?
H.M.: In Finland everything went very quick than. The riders had halve a mind on it between 1964 and 1967. There are not much spectators during races on ice and still less spectators at motocross races. But nevertheless that prevented the motocross riders to drive attacking. On Sunday they were all find on the ice tracks, in the woods for enduro or on motocross circuits. In 1965 I finished fourth in the 250cc ice racing championship, behind Jarno, Teppi and Matti. I participated in a race on a horse-race track where I became third behind Matti and Teppi. At that moment Matti and Teppi oriented themselves on road-racing. In the turns on the horse-race track it was possible for me to stay with them but on the two straights they were already10 meters in front of me, because they speeded up their Husqvarna's so they had the advantage on pure speed there. On the horse-race track you never gave up and always you went to the limit, a little cut off in the turns, set cross yourself and than all again in the back of the track. At the end of the 2nd lap the bike looses his power because the engine overheated and after 5 laps it even shut off entirely. These races are fairly boring, there are only 2 turns. I had my engine not as well prepared as Teppi or Matti and especially don’t always wanted to close the ranks. I left this sport. Rather I had already participated in enduro's, there I beaten Teppi and Matti and on Pääiäänenajo, which last almost 24 hours, I was in front of the Husqvarna of Kalevi Vehkonen.

C.W.: What kind of racer type were Länsivuori and Saarinen?
H.M.: Teppi had the same problem as Matti; he had a bad physical condition. Länsivuori was not a very good motocross racer, I think he was less good as Matti Pesonen. Teppi always prepared his Husqvarna very well, for the road race that is very good, but for the motocross it’s the condition which counts. Jarno had something very special. I knew that he trained for the motocross, but never I see him score a great success in this sport. He was a very good enduro rider, excellent on ice and snow. He was better than Länsivuori, but if I can remind myself, he had trouble to get rid of Matti Pesonen. Jarno had something we didn't have, he has other tires than the ours and regularly he modified them. During the races on ice he had never the best machine but that don’t prevented him to win. At that time that was still possible, nowadays this would no longer succeed. Jarno certainly was very motivated and had been well-matched to Teppi. I didn’t have driven frequently