By Kenneth Olausson
A good rider and a competitive machine are just two of the three decisive ingredients needed for MX success. A motocross mechanic mustn’t only work fast and reliably, he also has to have a love of exploration as travelling features highly in his job description. Meet one of Husqvarna's successful Swedish mechanics – Per-Olof Persson, who after a long MX career became a factory mechanic for some of the world's best riders during the 70s and 80s…
Per-Olof Persson, nicknamed Pelle-Mas by his closest friends, started riding motocross in the early 50s. His race debut was held in Solna outside of Stockholm in 1952. Pelle-Mas had close ties with Husqvarna during the 60s, during which time he saddled his 500cc 4-stroke Husqvarna.
“This was long before today’s modern 4-stroke era, when heavy machines were abandoned in favour of the lighter 2-stroke machines,” he says with a reminiscent look in his eyes. “Those were the heydays of the scramble sport when things were run the family way. Everyone knew each other and spent time together between MX racing events. Often we also travelled together with our Mercedes diesel cars having our bike on a trailer behind the vehicles.”
After some successful seasons in the beginning of the 60s, when Per-Olof often finished in the world championship points (awarded to the six best riders in those days), he was also awarded a nomination for being among the top Swedish MX riders. The exclusive SVEMO plaque was given to Per-Olof back in 1963.
After an 18-year career Per-Olof decided to call it quits as an active MX competitor. He’d done 600 races in events all over the world.
But times changed and so did Per-Olof Persson. After his long career he was offered a factory contract with Husqvarna once again. This time however it was as a Grand Prix mechanic, who would follow the stars around the European continent chasing the elusive title.
“In the 70s and at the beginning of the 80s I chose to work as a factory mechanic for Husqvarna instead of going back to my old profession as a plumber,” says Per-Olof Persson. “Husqvarna were interested in me because of my vast experience both as a mechanic, rider and as world traveller as well, I guess...”
Per-Olof Persson was a factory mechanic to most of Husqvarna’s top international riders. Riders like Heikki Mikkola, Bengt Åberg, Ivan Ranguelov and others.
“The gypsy life suited me well and I was well accustomed to counting every coin, before the good old times of motocross arrived,” tells Per-Olof.
Per-Olof Persson is now retired and lives in Orsa in northern Sweden.