A HUSKY MAN FULL OF SMILES
Uno Palm was born in Ulricehamn, mid-Sweden on the 3rd of May, 1944. As a young kid he was very interested in motorcycle sports and closely followed his idols in the motocross game. He bought his first moped at the age of 15 and then followed it up by taking his riding license a year later. He then bought a 200cc Husqvarna ‘Guldpil’, but soon got tired of riding on roads and instead looked at motocross. Uno started to practice as a teenager and entered his very first race at the age of 18. He also tried enduro riding and entered the famous ‘Novemberkasan’ - the November Trophy - both in 1962 and the following year. In 1963 Uno bought his first motocross machine, a 250cc Lindström.
After three seasons in the saddle he was ready for the national junior championship race, which was arranged nearby in the town of Eksjö. There were two qualification legs and Palm had no difficulties advancing to the final stint of the day. Here he dominated together with another competitor and they changed positions during a well-fought battle. In the end Palm tangled with his fellow rider, which caused him to lose position. Palm had to be content with second place, 13 seconds away from the winner's time. This result made him advance from a junior to a senior class rider in 1966.
“This was quite a leap forward,” Uno Palm remembered. “But it also meant that competition suddenly became more intense. I managed to win one run in the national 250 championship in 1967 and was also part of the team in the national series - coming second after having scored well in the season. It took me two full years before I was ready for the next big step in my motocross career.”
The year 1968 was very successful for Uno Palm, who won several big races during the season. Not only did he conquer in individual races, but he was also part of a winning team that scored in the Nordic championship. He was third overall in the Swedish championship and Uno Palm also did his debut in the 250cc world championship in 1968. However, during this season, he had limited progress and only managed to finish 25th in the final 250cc chart. In 1969 Uno Palm improved in the world mx series and finished 17th overall while he was second in the national 250 series at home.
The rider belonging to the motoring club in Ulricehamn, UMK, took a giant leap in his career in 1970. Not only did he win the Swedish 250cc championship on his Husqvarna, but he was also well ahead in the world motocross venues, being the best 250cc Swede coming home in 6th overall. No other Swedish 250-rider was as successful as Uno Palm was in 1970. But let's start at the beginning of this triumphant season.
The year began in mid-April with the first world championship round in Spain. Uno Palm came well prepared but did not score. It wasn't until the second round in France that he took his first 1970 championship points. Here Palm came seventh, clinching four valuable points. May was a good month when Palm received points at home and on the continent. But it was in June that his best moment arrived - Uno competed in Poland and had a stunning ride, coming third overall at the finish line. In the national championship the same month he also came third, to lead the Swedish 250cc series after two rounds. By the end of August, Palm came fourth in the Swiss 250cc round which secured him the sixth spot overall. After a strong spurt Palm hit the top step on the podium in the local scene, winning his maiden national championship on his Husqvarna. Yeah, 1970 was really good and despite blisters on his palms, mister Palm was indeed very satisfied with his achievements.
Uno Palm continued to be backed by Husqvarna in 1971, together with 250cc riders Hakan Andersson and Thorleif Hansen. Palm and Andersson rejected the new five-speed version and stuck to the four-speed from the previous season. Mister Palm spent his pre-season days by training harder than ever before – both practicing on his bike and by working-out physically. In better shape than ever, Uno Palm did well and was placing third in the championship before an incident that spoilt his world championship series. He was hurt and missed several rounds before re-joining. In the end Palm came sixth yet again.
Palm was third in the national championship, and also took part in the Trophée des Nations - 250cc - in Holice, Czechoslovakia. The five members of the Swedish squad finished second overall behind the winning Belgian team. The following year became even more successful for Palm, who now went through the 250 series without injuries. He had a lot of confidence and was happy with his machine which resulted in his best world championship stint ever. With several podiums finishes, the ace finished fifth overall, being the best Swede in his class.
The 1973 year was a turning-point for Palm after leaving Husqvarna for one season. But he came back to the Swedish factory in 1974, albeit with meagre results compared to his previous performances. Palm finished in 30th place in the motocross championship. The two following years were not much better although Uno P once again finished third in the 250 series at home. In a national championship chart of the 70s, Uno Palm turned out to be the fourth best rider of Sweden.
Palm had clearly done his best before he decided to end his career after nearly 20 years of racing. On the 25th of August in 1980, Palm rode his last motocross race on his Ulricehamn home turf. On a muddy and soaked track, the 36-year old star left the scene on top of the podium. The crowd cheered and was pleased to see him conquer one last time. Thirty years later, in 2010, Uno Palm tragically left us way too soon, suffering from cancer, at only 66 years young.