Karlskoga, Sweden

Lotus on Track [A History of short Circuits Series]

Karlskoga, Sweden : Moss and the Lotus 19 “The Winner takes All” 1961


The purpose of this series of articles is: –

  • To offer and explanation for the history, development, raison detre , and a comparative estimation of race circuits on which Chapman and Lotus competed
  • To offer an explanation for Lotus performance at differing circuits
  • To offer in particular interpretation on British, European and American circuits, their impact on motor sport taking Lotus as a primary focus

These articles are not essentially a tabulation of race results or the personalities involved. This information is easily obtained and the references quoted will assist.

Where entry lists are included its intended subscribers can benchmark.

Subscribers may like to see other articles in the series: –

  • Llandow
  • Goodwood
  • Silverstone
  • Le Mans
  • Targa Florio and Mille Miglia
  • Tracks Across America series including Indianapolis
  • Lotus 19 structured articles
  • UDT Laystall
  • Yeoman Credit

Karlskoga Location

“Karlskoga Motorstadion is located at Gelleråson, Sweden, near to near to Karlstad, Kristineham and Örebro. The nearest international airport is at Örebro, around 30 minutes from the circuit.

By road, the circuit is located around 6kms north of the town of Karlskoga on route 205. Follow the signs for ‘Motorbana’ to reach the circuit.”

In broad terms the circuit is due west of the capital Stockholm.

Sweden: geography, socio-economic context

“Sweden is the largest Scandinavian country in both population and area.It has an enviable welfare and civil rights mechanism.

Heavily forested, with many lakes.The Northern Plateau extends beyond the Arctic Circle.

The Southern Lowlands are widely cultivated.

Southern coasts are warmed by the Gulf Stream. Northern areas have more extreme continental climate.

The population is circa 10 million with the capital Stockholm on the eastern coast.

Companies of global importance including Volvo, Saab, SFK, Ericson with highly developed infrastructure, up-to-date technology and a skilled labour force.”

The following are the main economic powerhouse of Sweden: –

  • Timber
  • Hydropower and Energy
  • Iron ore
  • Engineering
  • Telecommunications
  • Automotive manufacture
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Armaments
  • Agriculture
  • Knowledge intensive society
  • Export orientated
  • Strong manufacturing, service and welfare sectors
  • R&D
  • Music exporter
  • Member of the EEC

Karlskoga circuit from website: –

“Karlskoga Motorstadion (also known as Gelleråsen Karlskoga), opened in 1949, is the oldest racing circuit in Sweden and the venue of several non-championship Formula One events (so-called Kanonloppet races) in the early 1960s. The Swedish Grand Prix, held under Formula 2 rules, also took place at Karlskoga in 1967.

In recent years, Karlskoga is mostly hosting national or regional events, such as Scandinavian Touring Car Championship, Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia or Camaro Cup.

Figure 1. Track layout from the net

STCC race is the highlight of the season at Karlskoga

Gunnar Olsson’s idea became a reality

The idea of a racetrack in Karlskoga, in Orebro County in central Sweden, was born in the head of Gunnar Olsson, the chairman of Karlskoga Motor Klub during the 1940s. After a World War II, the races were held mostly on the public roads but Olsson wanted to build a permanent racing facility.

When he met Elias Frisk, a motorsport enthusiast and local landowner, an idea was converted into reality. They built a race track on Frisk’s land, using gravel from his quarry to form the track surface. They needed just a week to construct the 1.55-km circuit.

Kanonloppet, Karlskoga

Kanonloppet events always attracted lots of spectators

Successful start and track improvements

The inaugural race was the first Kanonloppet on 4 June 1950. About 15,000 spectators visited the race. After this success, Olsson wanted more, dreaming about international races with world famous stars. The first step was to resurface the track with a sealed surface. For the 2nd Kanonloppet, held in 1952, the whole course was asphalted and extended to 1.6 kilometers.

Further upgrades were made in the next couple of years, with length extensions in 1953 and 1958. In 1958, with the addition of two straights linked by steeply banked hairpin bend called Velodromkurvan, the track length was extended to 3,000 meters.

The inaugural Kanonloppet in 1950 was the first ever race at Karlskoga Motorstadion

The inaugural Kanonloppet in 1950 was the first ever race at Karlskoga Motorstadion

Formula One cars came to Karlskoga in 1961

The race winner that year was the superstar Stirling Moss. It was the race for the sports cars and it remained the main form of racing until 1961 when the 7th Kanonloppet was held under Formula One rules. It was the first Formula One race in Sweden and a dream of Gunnar Olsson became true.

The grid was full of international stars. The winner of the 30-lap race was Stirling Moss, who was driving Lotus-Climax for UDT Laystall Racing Team. He won 12 seconds ahead of Swedish racer Joakim Bonnier with Porsche. John Surtees completed the podium. Other drivers in that historic race were Roy Salvadori, Tim Parnell, Jack Brabham, Jim Clark, Innes Ireland, Geoff Duke, Ulf Norinder and Carl Hammarlund.

Karlskoga hosted F1 non-championship races three times

After fulfilling his dream, Gunnar Olsson died at the end of 1961. The Formula One non-championship races came to Karlskoga two more times, in 1962 and 1963. Resurfacing of the track before the 8th Kanonloppet in 1962 led to lap times dropping for 5 seconds compared to 1961. John Surtees took the pole position with a lap time of 1.25.4. A year before, Jim Clark was a pole-sitter with a lap time of 1.30.1.

The winner in 1962 was Masten Gregory, driving the Lotus-BRM for UDT Laystall Racing Team. Roy Salvadori finished second, just two-tenths of a second ahead of Jo Bonnier. In 1963, Jack Brabham set the record lap time of 1.22.6, taking the pole position. In the race, Jim Clark earned his first win in Sweden, ahead of Lotus teammate Trevor Taylor. Jack Brabham was third.

Formula 2 ruled out at Karlskoga until 1967

In 1964, the Kanonloppet wasn’t Formula One race anymore. It switched to Formula 2 rules instead. Jack Brabham was the winner three times in a row, from 1964 to 1966.

The race in 1967 was also named the Swedish Grand Prix. Jackie Stewart took the victory. The Sportscar Grand Prix also took place at Karlskoga in 1967, with Jacky Ickx winning the race in Mirage M1-Ford and beating Jo Bonnier in the same car.

Sports cars marked the late 1960s

From 1968, there were no more F1 or F2 races at Karlskoga but Formula 3 and sports cars also attracted a lot of spectators. In 1968, David Piper (Ferrari 412 P) won the Sportscar Grand Prix. Jo Bonnier, who was driving McLaren M6B-Chevrolet, was second again. In 1969, Brian Redman won the Sportscar Grand Prix race.

Karlskoga 1961: Lotus 19 and Stirling Moss

The following tabulation has been taken from the net: –

Pos. No. Drivers Car Entrant Laps Time Distance Km/h Pos. Gr. FL Time
1st 1 Stirling Moss Lotus 19 Climax Yeoman Credit/BRP 25 41:08.800 109.323 1st S+2.0
2nd 9 Jo Bonnier Maserati Typo 61 Comrade USA 25 41:14.800 2nd S+2.0
3rd 6 Curt Lincoln Cooper Monaco T49 Climax 25 41:59.300 79.300 kms 1st S2.0
4th 3 David Piper Lotus – Climax 25 42:35.900 3rd S+2.0
5th 8 Bo Ljungfeldt Maserati 200S 25 42:33.000 2nd S2.0
6th Ulf Norinder Porsche 718 RSK 24 3rd S2.0
7th 4 Graham Whitehead Lola Mk.1 Climax 24 4th S2.0
8th Bill Bradshaw Lotus Eleven Climax 24 5th S2.0
9th 12 Rolf Lundbom Porsche 550 Spyder 23 6th S2.0
10th 5 Lloyd Casner Chevrolet Corvette Comrade USA 23 4th S+2.0
11th 10 Erik Wennerholm Ferrari 500 TR Scaglietti Spyder 23 7th S2.0
12th 16 Yngve Rosqvist Osca FS Volvo 22 8th S2.0

Did not finish:

No. Drivers Car Entrant Laps Time Distance Km/h Reason Gr. FL Time
John Kvarnström Ferrari 750 Monza 6 Rear axle S+2.0

Entered cars that did not arrive:

No. Drivers Car Entrant Reason Gr.
2 Jimmy Blumer Cooper Monaco T49 S2.0
7 Edmund E. Hartzell Austin-Healey 100S S+2.0
11 Gunnar Carlsson Ferrari 250 TR S+2.0
14 Lennart Hultqvist Osca FS Maserati S2.0
16 Yngve Rosqvist Maserati Raced Osca S2.0

The Lotus 19

Figure 2. Spark scale model

The A&R has covered this car in some detail and subscribers are directed to these.

However, it’s interesting to note the international field that Lotus faced. The Lotus although possibly slightly underpowered against some of the opposition was state of the art.

In the hands of Moss, it had an advantage.

It’s also worth recording the Lotus entrants and the distance travelled to compete.

Lotus Cortina’s at Karlskoga

Subscribers are directed to the tracks dedicated website where it’s possible to record Lotus Cortina’s racing later in the decade.

Sweden and Lotus connectivity

Lotus recruited R.Peterson ; the following details are from wiki :-

“Peterson surprised many by leaving Tyrrell to return to John Player Team Lotus for 1978. He won the 1978 South African Grand Prix, with a last-lap victory over Patrick Depailler, as well as the Austrian Grand Prix, in the innovative ‘ground effect’ Lotus 79. His teammate Mario Andretti won the Drivers’ Championship with Peterson acting effectively as the Team “No. 2” with the pair scoring four 1–2 wins, all with Andretti at the lead. Both of Peterson’s wins occurred when Andretti encountered trouble, with Andretti winning once when Peterson failed to finish (not including the Italian Grand Prix). Many times, Peterson followed Andretti closely home, leading to speculation that ‘Team Orders’ were in place.

Throughout the 1970s Peterson had the reputation of being the fastest driver in F1 in terms of raw speed.[8] During the 1978 season Andretti would frequently post the faster qualifying time. Many came to believe that team orders extended even to qualifying. Another view, held by some contemporary observers, was that while Peterson may have in fact been the outright quicker of the two, it was Andretti’s considerable car development skills that brought the recalcitrant Lotus 78 and 79 to full potential, and Peterson’s seeming deference to Andretti was a tacit acknowledgement of this.[citation needed] Despite this, Peterson was offered a seat at McLaren at 1979.[9] Peterson refused to contribute to any controversy, and on numerous occasions dismissed the speculation by stating that Andretti had simply turned the faster time. [citation needed]”

Learning Opportunities

Our learning /educational opportunities are intended to be challenging thought provoking and requiring additional research and/or analysis.

These opportunities are particularly designed for a museum/education centre location where visitors would be able to enjoy access to all the structured resources available in conjunction with any concurrent exhibition.

In this instance we suggest the following might be appropriate: –

  • See individual questions for each dedicated track in series
  • Devise exhibitions based on suggested titles –see below
  • What factors have contributed to Sweden’s high standard of living?
  • Name and describe their aviation and auto manufacturers
  • Which branches of motorsport have Sweden excelled in?
  • Suggest in period for the 1960s race what logistics would have been required to get the Lotus 19 to the track
  • How many and describe the current motorsport circuits in Sweden?
  • Benchmark the competition to Lotus what contribution did Moss provide?
  • Discuss the Lotus 19’s race record

Education, Entertainment, Exhibitions and Economics

The proposed museum believes that commercial considerations are both necessary and complementary with its educational objectives.

For these reasons our Business Plan includes provision for promoting products and services which share Chapman’s ideals of mechanical efficiency and sustainability. In addition, we propose merchandising that explain and interprets the social and cultural context of Chapman’s designs in period. It’s suggested there will be catalogue for on line purchasing.

In particular it’s proposed to hold a series of powerful and informative interactive exhibitions tracing the evolution of each circuit along with the Chapman/Lotus participation/interaction.

Such exhibitions using film, track simulators, fashion music and archive photography can trace and help explain the interaction of technology and the development of tracks in response. The educational value based around the impact on speed and handling and the manipulation of engineering and speed data. Further educational aspects can be explored through a process of tracing the raison ‘detre ,the history, geography, design, economics and interrelationship between track and automobile development [its role of testing etc.]

It’s suggested the proposed museum will keep a data base of events and assist visitors make bookings which might in addition to competitive events include track days and driver experience along with race schools and safety events. The proposed CCM&EC also holds the potential to provide vehicles and host dedicated shows and race days on a commercial basis.

In this instance we consider the following exhibitions with an Abba song title link might be appropriate: –

  • “Gimme.Gimme,Gimme”
  • “I saw it in the Mirror”
  • “Money,Money,Money”
  • “Move On”
  • “The Visitors”
  • “The winner takes all”
  • “The Name of the Game”
  • “Take A Chance on Me”
  • Lotus and the Northern Lights


Sweden and the Karlkoga race track are important and contribute to motorsport history.

There is also the element of enthusiast’s dreams and the benefits they bring to a wide audience. This factor is repeated and can be picked up in our Lotus on Track Series.

The Lotus 19 Yeoman Credit /Moss achievement was significant. The Lotus 19 might not have won major international or long- distance events. It has a track record and was amenable to accommodating a variety of engines particularly in America. This possibly contributed to its success. The Lotus 19 did not sell in huge numbers relative to its single seater and Type 23 compatriot but it did provide useful publicity on three continents. Its perhaps worth noting that the Lotus 19 has been offered by several scale model manufactures. This would not be the case unless its commanded attention.

Sweden with its high-tech economy has produced some superb cars not least Saab with its aviation credentials but has not really entered FI although its drivers have been significant.

The Karlskoga circuit has evolved and been through many of the cycles faced by other tracks in response to safety issues. It now has a future and contributes to and helps maintain European mainstream motorsport.


Lotus on the Hills. Robinshaw & Bouckley. R.B. Publications.1998

ISBN: 0952808625

Motor Racing Circuits in England –Then and Now. Swinger.

ISBN: 0711031045

From Brands Hatch to Indianapolis. Tommasi. Hamlyn.1974

ISBN: 0600335577

Motor Racing at Oulton Park.McFadyen.Veloce.

ISBN: 9781845840389

Aces High. Miller. Pelham.1972

The British Grand Prix.1926-1976.Nye. Batsford.1977.

ISBN: 0713432837

British Grand Prix.Hamilton.Promotional Reprints.1992.

ISBN: 1856480534

The Motor Racing Circuits of Europe.Venables.Ian Allen.2010

ISBN: 9780711034815

Formula One Race Circuits. De Cet.Bookmart.2008.

ISBN: 9781861472052

The World Atlas of Motor Racing. Saward. Guild.1989.

ISBN: 9780600564058

Atlas. Dorling Kindersley.2004.

ISBN: 9781405303293

Please note the editors of the A&R attempt to give the broadest spectrum of references but not all are available for consultation in an article. However, by noting their existence it may assist students in their research.

*Items in italics non-A&R library books.