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motocrossactionmag.com

MXA'S BIRTHDAY BOY: SOMEONE HAD TO BE FIRST

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MXA’S BIRTHDAY BOY: SOMEONE HAD TO BE FIRST


Bill Nilsson.

Swedish motocross pioneer Bill Nilsson was born on December 17, 1932 and passed away on Sunday, August 25, 2013. Bill Nilsson holds the honor of being the very first first official 500 World Motocross Champion. Nilsson was part of the Golden Era of four-stroke motocross when Nilsson, Sten Lundin, Rolf Tibblin, Jeff Smith, Les Archer and Rene Baeten raced special one-off machines to motocross glory. It was during this era that motocross became popular with the masses and every modern racer owes a debt of gratitude to the men who raced the first-ever works bikes


Bill Nilsson’s 1957 AJS 7R.

In the winter of 1956, after being fired by BSA, Bill bought an AJS 7R road racing machine and turned into a motocross bike. Bill used lots of the AJS parts and rebuilt the engine from 350cc to 490cc. Bill did all of the work himself and then used the homemade bike to win the 1957 FIM 500 World Championship. Bill Nilsson, who had a reputation for doing whatever it took to win, would use that determination to take the 1957 and 1960 FIM 500 World Championships, plus be on the winning Motocross des Nations teams in 1955, 1958 and 1961.


Bill Nilsson winning the 1960 500 World Championship on a Husqvarna four-stroke.


Jeff Smith (left), Bill Nilsson (center) and Sten Lundin had a reunion with Lundin’s Monark.


Bill Nilson signing an autograph at Imola in 2012.