An International Vintage Motocross event was held recently in Lugnorre, Switzerland. The event, which took pace in early September, has been a fixture for several years now, and many “vintage” amateur riders, and some former professionals, were present this year, among them a Motocross World Champion: the Swede Sten Lundin.
Born in 1931, he started to ride when he was 17 years old. He rode old roadsters adapted for off-road use with few small adjustments such as increasing the suspension travel and reinforcing the frame. At that time – 1948 – the name and even the concept of Motocross did not yet exist. Things developed little by little; Sten Lundin was taking part in some international races, but soon, following in the tracks of another Swedish rider, Bill Nilsson, he entered the 500cc European Championship on his BSA in 1955. He won his first two races (Italy and the Netherlands) and finished in third position, two points behind the winner John Draper and one point behind his friend Nilsson. But the highlight of that year was the victory of the Swedish team at the Motocross des Nations held in Randers, Denmark. Sten was a member of the team alongside Bill Nilsson and Lars Gustavsson.
The following year, Lundin ended up in fourth position while Leslie Archer took his Norton to the title. In 1957 the event became a World Championship – and the 250cc was introduced as an FIM Cup. This was the first individual title for Sweden, with Bill Nilsson (AJS) taking his first title, ahead of Belgian René Baeten (FN). Sten Lundin, in his first year as a Monark factory rider, was in third position with two wins (Belgium and Luxemburg). Monark was manufacturing bicycles and mopeds; they were not especially interested in building motorcycles for the market, but they believed that victories in sport would bring them publicity. And they were quite right.
In 1959, the fight between Nilsson and Baeten was played out for the second time, and this time the Belgian finished in front of the Swede, with Lundin coming third again. But his destiny was to take him on the top in 1959: with four victories (Austria, Italy, Germany and Luxemburg), he clinched his first World title with 44 points (8 more than Nilsson). The following year, Lundin finished second behind Nilsson. It was a great year for Swedish riders, as four of them clinched the first four places in the 500cc championship. In 1961 Lundin was back on the top with the biggest total of points possible at the time( 70, 48 of which counted for the championship) and six wins. He was riding a motorcycle called Lito, very similar to the Monark. It was actually made by people linked with the Monark factory. The Swedes took the first five places of the 500cc championship in 1962. It would be the first title for Rolf Tibblin, ahead of Johansson, Lundin, Lundell and Nilsson. 1963 saw a fight between Lundin and Tibblin that raged on throughout the season, ending with the victory for Tibblin. But a British rider was closing in on them: Jeff Smith on a factory BSA came third, and would win the title in 1964 in front of no less than five Swedish riders. Lundin finished in third position. In 1965 he finished in fifth. After that, Lundin took part in only a few rounds of the championship until he stopped riding in 1966, but he remained inside the Motocross World Championship, working for Yamaha on a new generation of racers.
Pictures: R. Lohrer