By Kenneth Olausson
Hakan Andersson was barely 16 and had only just got his motorcycle license when he entered his first motocross race back in 1962. Hakan: “I had a 175 cc Husqvarna for my début and don't really remember my results, only that I neither won nor came last to the finish line.” Hakan only competed in that one race, before moving on to 1963. But even before that season finished, he broke his leg and was unable to ride again for two months.
In his military days Hakan Andersson served as a motorcycle dispatch rider and had lots of time to practice negotiating difficult obstacles. Kåberg, both his superior and boss, held the record time on the nearby motocross track, but it wasn’t long before Andersson was registering far faster times. Here was a young rider with a lot of talent and a fantastic will to improve his riding style. But there was vengeance in the air and Mr Kåberg had Andersson punished for riding his moped back home wearing his uniform, something that was not permitted according to strict military rules. "Nowadays when we meet, we having a good laugh at that story,” says Hakan. During his military days Hakan often visited his local track and watched the likes of Torsten Hallman and his contemporaries ride for glory.
”My friend Eje Skarin was also interested in MX and he always followed me, later even as a mechanic when I became a factory rider. Old friendships never die, says Hakan Andersson who still lives near Uddevalla on the Swedish west coast. He actually never liked riding a motorcycle on ordinary roads:"As a dispatch rider at I 17 in Uddevalla, I had to get out on different roads to accomplish my military tasks", Hakan tells us, "but apart from that period, I never got involved in racing on roads".
In the early days of his career Hakan was unlucky to break his leg very badly, but he made his breakthrough as an MX rider, racing on a Husqvarna very soon after it healed. Hakan soon advanced from being a junior rider up to the senior class and he had already completed three seasons when he took part in the Swedish 250 cc Grand Prix back in 1966. The event was held in central Sweden at the Motala circuit and Hakan was a sensational third in the first moto. Suddenly everybody at the track was focussed on this up-and-coming young rider who had come from nowhere and was now a real contender. And to underline he was a rider to watch out for, Hakan was also riding in third position in the second moto before a puncture put an end to this great day. “It was a tremendous success for me,” says Hakan. “One day changed my whole world! But I was a bit disappointed not being able to finishing the second moto.”
The 1966 season went well for Andersson who finished third in the 250 cc national championship on his Husqvarna. This was an excellent result when you remember that at least ten top riders were chasing that elusive Swedish title that year. The following year Hakan Andersson became world champion for the very first time. He was then part of the Swedish team competing for the exclusive"Trophée des Nations", this time held in the Czech town of Holice. The team’s success however came at a cost for Hakan who had a bad crash and seriously injured his knee. Despite this handicap, Hakan was able to repeat his 250 cc success in the national championship where he finished third in the points at the end of the season.
Prior to the 1968 season, the weapons factory in the town of Huskvarna was promoting motocross after having won seven individual world titles over a ten- year period. Hakan Andersson was among a group of riders put under contract and by the spring of that year when the Grand Prix races were due to start he stood a very good chance of being among the title contenders. At first everything went according to plan, well actually even better than that. Hakan had already finished third in second world championship event of the year. Then came his career first GP win in Czechoslovakia where he beat all the competition, including Joel Robert who until now had totally dominated the 250 cc class. After four rounds of the championship Hakan Andersson was only two points behind the Belgian-born MX star. The international world of racing reverberated with the news that a new star was born!
But Hakan was to suffer another fracture after this important breakthrough. Racing in the sand at the Dutch Markelo circuit, the Husqvarna ace was chasing down the race leaders when his handlebars broke in two. Hakan was pushing hard in the sand in one of the wooded parts of the track when suddenly he had no grip on his machine. He crashed badly and sustained complicated fractures of his leg. He was quickly transported to a nearby hospital for treatment but it was to be several months before Hakan could leave Holland to return home to Sweden. Then in Sweden, doctors discovered that the fractures were healing wrongly and he had to undergo another complicated operation. Talk about bad luck! Everyone naturally began to speculate whether this promising rider would ever be able to return to racing. But motocross riders are both stubborn and tough and Hakan Andersson was no exception, even if he did have to walk with crutches for a whole year before he could get back on his Husky.
Hakan went into the 1969 GP series with a commitment to fight for the top place. Unfortunately, Hakan's hard training program then resulted in more trouble. His old wounds had not healed and after yet another crash he was forced to sit out another season. After two consecutive years with no results and no starts, Hakan' s name was now all but forgotten. The 1970 season was approaching and the only support Hakan received came from Husqvarna’s racing manager Bror Jaurén. He gave Andersson a new machine, but there were no great awards for the Swede who had now turned 24. In fact it was not until 1971, three years after his big accident, that Hakan was again on the podium. He proved to the world that he was still fierce championship material and finished second in the MX 250 cc class, beaten only by Joel Robert who sealed his fifth world title.
Hakan had overcome his injury problems and eventually went on to win the 250 cc world championship in 1973. He had finally made his dream come true even though by this time he was riding for another brand. Hakan had finally succeeded in transforming his record of injuries to one of winning the gold medal for his championship title. He returned to Husqvarna in 1978 and rode in the 500 cc world championship but he only completed a few races in the season and eventually finished twelfth in points.