Motocross Legend Carlqvist

Motocross Legend Carlqvist

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Motocross Legend Carlqvist

1983 World 500cc Motocross Champion Hakan Carlqvist with Jeff Leisk at Broadford - Carlqvist won all events
1983 International Motocross at Broadford - Start of firstrace featuring World Champion Hakan Carlqvist - 23 October 1983 - By courtesy Adrian Haigh

Photos:  [L-R] Reigning 1983 World  500cc Motocross Champion Hakan Carlqvist with Jeff Leisk at Broadford on 23 October 1983,  and the start of the first race (By coutesy Adrian Haigh).

Reigning World Motocross Champion Hakan Carlqvist’s tour down under

Fresh from winning the 1983 World 500cc Motocross Championship, Swedish rider Hakan Carlqvist raced down under.

In similar fashion to World 125cc Motocross Champion Gaston Rahier – who toured Australia in 1975 after clinching Suzuki’s first World title to promote the new Japanese lightweight motocross machines – the late Carlqvist did the same for Yamaha in 1983.

And like Rahier’s 1975 tour, a group of other international riders joined Carlqvist for several International motocross and supercross events, including other World Champions – Yamaha Team member Danny LaPorte (US) and Graham Noyce (UK).

The US contingent also included US Legend Ric Johnson and two-time Los Angeles Coliseum Supercross winner Jimmy Ellis and Marty Moates, who both had already been competing down under, but decided to stay.

Two other Englishmen on the tour included Roger Harvey and Paul Hunt, both who competed several times in Australia, including the Manjimup 15,000.

Carlqvist’s first motocross event in Australia was on 23 October 1983 at Broadford, with newly crowned Australian Mr Motocross Ray Vandenberg competing on his local track in Victoria, where he clinched his Mr Motocross title at just weeks earlier.

The event was run by Starlift Productions, owned by Trevor Flood and Corrie Spruit.  Trevor Flood also prepared the Yamaha 500 bike for Carlqvist, that’s why he is wearing a Gasit Fox jersey.  Surprisingly, the Yamaha Motor Company allowed him to do this given he’d only just clinched the World Championship aboard a Yamaha.

The other top Australian riders competing in the International events were Jeff Leisk (WA), Stephen Gall (NSW), Vaughan Style (NSW), Glen Bell and Beatle Bailey (NSW).

Another Swedish rider, Pelle Granqvist, was also competing having moved to Australia in 1978 to promote the new Husqvarna motocross bikes.

Carlqvist was the outright winner on his 500cc Yamaha at Broadford, running away with wins in all races contested on the day.

Then, over the following weekends, Carlqvist contested two International Supercross events in Penrith (NSW) on 29 October 1983, then Fremantle (WA).

Carlqvist’s 1983 World Motocross Championship was his second world title, having won his first in 1979 in the 250cc class riding a Husqvarna.  He contested the World Motocross Championships through to 1988, when he bowed out in sensational style at the final Grand Prix of the season in Namur, Belgium, finishing on a high.

Not only did he win his final Grand Prix with a 1-1 finish, but he became a folk hero for a different reason – becoming the first rider to stop mid-moto to skull a beer (See separate story coming soon).

Sadly, Hakan Carlqvist passed away on 6 July 2017 at 63 years of age.

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Carlqvist at  the 1983 Fremantle Supercross  in Fremantle, Western Australia (Peter Kitchingman)

Carlqvist's motocross life story

Hakan Carlqvist was the third of four children. As a teenager, he was interested in many sports, playing soccer, ice hockey – which was the national Swedish sport in the 1960s – as well downhill skiing, which gave him a taste of high-speed racing.

He loved the outdoor life and, at age 15, quit school to work in the construction industry and earn some money, later becoming a glass-trader. The following year he started riding a 125cc road bike and developed an interest in motorcycles.

In 1971, Carlqvist bought a Penton-KTM enduro competition machine, which he rode in a local motocross event and won it. This was the beginning of his motocross story and for those close to him, he was very fast and consistent, but very stubborn.

In his first seasons he raced Ossa and Maico machines in the National Championships, contesting his first World 250cc Championship in 1974 as a privateer, where he finished 25th. He finished two placings higher in 1975, then 14th in 1976 – switching to the popular Swedish Husqvarna machine for the 1977 season.

That first year aboard Husqvarna was a disaster, with Carlqvist breaking his leg at the Belgium Grand Prix. But despite losing six months due to the injury, he still managed to finish 17th overall in the World 250cc Championship and ended the year on a good note – finishing second in the Swedish Trophy of Nations team, which he accomplished the next three years in a row.

After finishing seventh in the 1978 World 250cc Championship, Carlqvist receive a production bike, extra support from the Husqvarna factory, along with a mechanic to take care of his new bike for the coming season.
That year Carlqvist became the 1979 F.I.M. 250cc World Motocross Champion for the Husqvarna factory racing team, joining other Swedish World Champions – Bill Nilsson, Sven Lundin, Bengt Aberg, Torsten Hallman and Heikki Mikkola.

It was his best ever season, winning six Grand Prix’s against the likes of Hudson, Moisseev, Kavinov, Jobe and Van Der Ven.

At this stage, the 500cc class was the “real” Championship, so Carlqvist switched to this class in 1980. With the great Heikki Mikkola retiring, Carlqvist won his spot on the Yamaha Factory team and finished third that year, third in 1981 and eighth in 1982.  He finished 3rd in 1981 and 7th in 1982. In 1983, he battled against Honda teammates André Malherbe and Graham Noyce to claim the 500cc world championship, on a Yamaha. 

During these year Carlqvist was outspoken and continually pushed the Yamaha Factory engineers to use better materials to improve his machine, which paid off.

In 1983, he battled against Honda teammates André Malherbe and Graham Noyce to claim the 500cc World Championship on a Yamaha to claim his second World Motocross Championship and his first in the prestigious 500cc class.  This year, alongside his motocross racing, he also started to try out three wheeled racing, winning this championship as well.

1983 was a big year Carlqvist! As well as touring Australia in October and November after clinching his second world championship, he received the “Svenska Dagbladet Gold Medal” which is the most prestigious sports award you can get in Sweden.

In 1984, Carlqvist finished tenth after injury. He raced for Yamaha until end of 1986, finishing 8th in the 500cc World Motocross Championship that year. He continued the 500 GPs in 1987 and 1988 as a privateer aboard a Kawasaki KX500.

Carlqvist’s last Grand Prix victory was the Belgian Grand Prix at Namur in 1988. It was a season to remember for all his fans, especially when he stunned the spectators by stopping before the end of the 2nd moto to drink a beer, while leading the race by somewhat 50 seconds, and going back into the race to win it.

Hakan Carlqvist was one of the toughest men ever to sit on a bike. Moulded from hardened steel, he had a warrior’s instinct on the track. Sadly, he died on 6 July 2017 from the effects of a brain hemorrhage he suffered the previous day.

1983 World 500cc Motocross Champion Hakan Carlqvist - Yamaha

1983 World 500cc Motocross  Champion

1983 International Motocross featuring World Champion Hakan Carlqvist and Ricky Johnson - 23 October 1983 at Broadford
1983 International Motocross featuring World Champions Hakan Carlqvist and Graham Noyce 30 October 1983 at Penrith NSW
1983 Danny La Porte leads World 500cc Motocross Champion Hakan Carlqvist at Fremantle Supercross

Posters – Racing down under, and  (below) Carlqvist chasing Danny La Porte (US) at  the Fremantle Supercross in Nov. 1983

Photo and video gallery

Yamaha – 1983 World Motocross Grand Prix season in review

Carlqvist’s famous beer stunt at the 1988 – 500cc Grand Prix in  Namur, Belgium – Click for story

World News – Hakan Carlqvist passes away on 6 July 2017

Key career achievements
World Championships and Motocross des Nations only

1979 and 1983 World 500cc Motocross  Champion Hakan Carlqvist

25th World 250cc Motocross Championship

23rd World 250cc Motocross Championship

14th World 250cc Motocross Championship
2nd Trophee des Nations Team Event

7th World 250cc Motocross Championship
2nd Trophee des Nations Team Event and overall individual winner

250cc World Motocross Champion and overall individual winner (Husqvarna)

3rd World 500cc Motocross Championship

3rd World 500cc Motocross Championship
2nd Trophy des Nations Team Event

8th World 500cc Motocross Championship

World 500cc Motocross Champion (Yamaha)

10th World 500cc Motocross Championship
2nd Trophy des Nations Team Event
3rd Motocross des Nations Team Event

16th World 500cc Motocross Championship

8th World 500cc Motocross Championship

12th World 500cc Motocross Championship

10th World 500cc Motocross Championship

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