1972 Road Racing Grand Prix World Champion Honored by Finland

47-Year-Old Photos Delivered to Their Rightful Home

Yamaha Motor paid tribute to Finnish Yamaha racer Jarno Saarinen honouring his legacy with a display at the Feel Finland event celebrating 100 years of diplomatic relations between Finland and Japan at the Embassy of Finland in Tokyo held last Sunday, 14th April.

The display showed Saarinen and his exploits in racing with pictures and a video from the era. Also, prominently featured was a replica of his TD-3 production race bike that he rode to win the 250cc Road Racing Grand Prix World Championship in 1972, becoming the first Finn to clinch a world title. Special commemorative items were also offered for purchase featuring illustrations produced just for the event by Finnish illustrator, Pirita Tolvanen.

Finally, Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. President Yoshihiro Hidaka personally presented an album containing memorable photos of Saarinen and his wife Soili of 47 years ago to Soili herself, who attended the event.

What sparked the idea for this tribute was the album itself — found among cardboard boxes full of old Yamaha media assets — which was filled with happy pictures of Jarno and Soili together during their visit to Japan in November 1972. Yamaha Motor’s desire to deliver this album to its rightful home, coincided with 2019 – the year that marks the celebration of 100 years of diplomatic relations between Finland and Japan, and making it the perfect opportunity to honour Saarinen and at the same time officially hand over the photo album.

Soili reminisced while looking at the black-and-white photos from nearly 50 years ago: “Racing is usually done with a big team, but Jarno could do a lot of mechanical work himself so I helped to support him with everything else and we went to the races as a team. I’m glad to be taking these photos and their memories back with me to Finland.”

President Hidaka himself is an avid race fan. While flipping through an old magazine, he owns, showcasing Saarinen’s racing achievements, “I remember seeing him in motorcycle magazines while I was student,” he said to Soili. “Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d have the opportunity to officially hand over an album from some 40 years ago to the wife of a rider I admired so much. This is a heartwarming experience.”

The Jarno Saarinen exhibit will be on display at the Communication Plaza, Yamaha Motor’s corporate museum, from 16th April to 31st May.


For Communication Plaza open days and hours

Address: 2500 Shingai, Iwata, Shizuoka, 438-8501, Japan


Top image, from left: Yoshihiro Hidaka, President of Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd.; Soili, widow of Jarno Saarinen; Pekka Orpana, Finnish ambassador to Japan

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