Monday, June 01, 2009

Racing Ladas

If there's one thing more prone to wild tangents than a wikisurf, it's a two-man wikisurf. This occurs when two people, both sitting at computers, start sending each other links of things they've found, sometimes an interesting seam of pages is found and both individuals go exploring.

Today, for some reason, my dad linked me the wiki page which lists to the drag coefficient of various cars. From there, I found this strange car, which led, via various other things, to my dad discovering this equally strange car. The last discovery left us baffled, a soviet racing car? Does this mean they had auto racing in the soviet union?

The answer, we learned, was yes. Some races were done with little sports cars like the ZIL, some were done with reverse-engineered versions of the formula 1 cars of the time, but most were touring-car style races done with ordinary saloons. This means that while the decadent west witnessed 200mph showdowns between ford GT40s and Porche 917s, on the other side of the iron curtain people were racing trabants, ladas, yugos, and Zaporozhets (which had mighty 26hp air-cooled engines*). There are a whole load of pictures of these races here.

When you consider that people race snails, beltsanders, and lawnmowers, it makes you wonder if there's some sub-set of the human (generally male) population that are born with an overpowering urge to race things. I suppose we won't know until we find the first fossil evidence of a neolithic tire-wall.

We then discovered the Soviet Jet Train, and it got even stranger from there.

*In the Soviet Union there was a widespread (but sadly not true) urban legend that the engines of Zaporozhets were starter motors from old tanks.