Soviet Racing

Russian cars racing in Soviet times

There are some countries where is racing is banned at all. In such countries they don’t have racing teams or competitions simply for that reason.

In Soviet Union, the place where a lot of stuff was banned, they still had races held and available for general public to visit the racing and there were sport sections training young men from early age for becoming a race driver.

Maybe the biggest difference between Soviet race and race from other world was the absense of commercial stickers on the cars. In Soviet Russia they didn’t have any competition since all commerce belonged to the state and all the goods were manufactured by state – so there was no reason to advertise anything, so racing cars were clear – just with numbers on them, and sometimes the name of the team. Also there were no foreign car makes participating in Soviet Russia races, only the serial cars manufactured in USSR. There were no any V8 or V6 engines, no turbos or compressors – just plain 1.0 liter small passenger cars that were sold to Soviet people colored in some racing colors. Though sometimes the enthusiasts of racing made some tuning by themselves sitting late evenings in their garages to get one or two more horsepower from 60 horsepower engines of Lada.

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 2

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 3

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 4

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 5

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 6

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 7

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 8

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 9

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 10

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 11

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 12

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 13

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 14

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 15

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 16

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 17

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 18

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 19

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 20

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 21

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 22

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 23

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 24

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 25

Russian cars racing in Soviet times 26

some photos from,

44 thoughts on “Soviet Racing”

    • OMG people are walking on the race track? I feel sorry for those poor russians drivers who never had a chance to drive super fast mighty American Mustang 🙁

  1. Those are great!

    Does anyone know if what the admin says is true about there being countries where all racing is or was banned? Does he refer to communist countries?

  2. The story is not 100% true. They don’t use only mainstream factory cars. For excample, there was institution what built special lada raceing/tuning versions Lada VFTS and that wasnt only one.. there was them more.

  3. Pingback: Soviet Era Racing « digital dump
  4. Oh come on buddy… you have probably never seen a a Lada. The smallest engine in the Lada 2101 was 1.2 liter. Others was 1.3, 1.5, 1.6 liter. In the racing round-eye models they used 1.3-1.5 liter engines, 110+ HP. This was not bad for an 800+ kg car in the end of ’70s, beginning ’80s. On the 6th pic a Lada VFTS (homologized 1982) put out 140-160 HP from an 1.6 engine. Some of them had 1.6-1.8 liter engines with turbo – more than 200 HP. 25 years ago.

    Surely not a ’69 Charger or an ’82 Ascona, but in a poor country it was very good for the racing-fans.

    (sorry for poor english)

      • no, do you think, an USSR factory would make too many types of motor engines, if people waited for their cars 5-10 years? i live in Hungary, and i saw many ladas, drove them, all of the was with 1.0 liter big, there were 1.2 and 1.3. all other engines you described are from different cars, lada is a very good car for tuning.

        110 HP and more… yes, in this century, but before 1980 (or 1990) they hadnt enough stuff for such an amarican tuning, and nobody needed it. what hungarian journalists write every year: it nice, that in hungary (an they mean all the ex-soviet countries) people are making tuning cars from some hundred dollars, and they are as strong as the american thousand more expansive “i just got back from miamis best tuning garage” cars.

        Lada is really fast, strong, and never brake down. i hate it, but thats why its uncomfortable, and i dont even race:D

        • 60 hp? 😀 tunned engines had:
          1,5 moskvich 90-140 hp
          1,2 lada 80-110 hp
          1,3 lada 110-135 hp
          1,5 lada 120-150 hp
          1,6 lada 130-160 hp
          2,4 volga about 170 hp
          in 1982 founded VFTS and there 1,6 engine had 160-170 hp
          there was also lada vfts 2105-T16 with 1,8 turbo engine 240hp (after this in vfts lada eva 300hp and S-PROTO 350 hp, but they were not used in real competitions because group B rally in 1987 was prohibitted)

  5. russians did many bizzare and werid inventions. Its a pity they did not slap a small jet engine on top of lada and ave west a run for their F1 racing.

  6. formuls on the pictures are Estonia 16. Made in Tallinn by TARK. Estonia forumla cars practiclly dominated the soviet block. Russians tried, but never produced anything competitve. First Estonia was produced 1958 and last one 2001 (Estonia 26H9).
    More can be read at

  7. Must have been very fun to watch!

    There is a picture with more properly built race cars in it though, how fast were those?

  8. Auto racing is one of my favorite sports, as I have always had an excellent hand on the steering wheel and a good instinct for when to “make my move” against my opponent.

    When I was a young revolutionary helping to bring down the British-American Puppet on the Peacock Throne, I often had to race the SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police, and believe me, the stakes were much higher than a trinket of a trophy or some fond wishes from onlookers. The SAVAK gave special meaning to the idea of “hanging around” the police station.

    Although I detest the godless Americans, one good thing came from them, and it was called a Ford Bronco. I used to drive one during my duties as a courier, carrying special messages from my beloved Ayatollah, who was exiled by the Shah to Najaf, Iraq, and would send his words of revolutionary hope to the border, where they would be picked up by me and carried through the mountain passes toward Tehran, to the Persian people, who to this day still admire my exploits in off-road racing.

    I had a special roll-bar installed, and did in fact roll over several times. However, the rollovers were part of my master plan to make the police think I was dead, much like an opossum rolls over and pretends to be dead in order to discourage a predator from bullying him any longer (I learned this trick from watching BBC documentaries, so even the Brits have some use).

    In addition to the roll-bar and rugged construction of the built-Ford-tough Bronco, I was saved by wearing a specially designed hand-made crash helmet. The distinguishing feature of the helmet was the lining, which covered my head and face in shape-retaining, super-soft and absorbent testicular bags taken from high-mountain sheep.

    The short, bristly hairs on the outside of the testicular bag, turned in to rub against my face, stimulated the pores in my skin and kept me alert, aggressive, and randy, which gave me an advantage over the police drivers, who usually relied on synthetic helmet linings, which gave no stimulation at all and often lulled them into a lethargic stupor.

    I wonder what kind of helmet lining the Russian racers wore?

    Yours in motorsport performance, innovation and safety,
    M. Ahmadinejad
    Ten-time winner, SAVAK Zagros Mountain Rally

  9. Actually, those cars as said above were not slow at all. There was a lot of decent race cars, although civil versions of those cars were underpowered. VAZ 2103 was probably russian Civic Vtec because if you drive it at low revs you get insufficient oil pressure and you simply have to rev and due to that you get power. This car could easily do 8000rpm and stay in tact.

  10. Pingback: Truth And Justice » Blog Archive » Soviet Racing
  11. Is there any information available on the 60`s formula style cars available – I work on some vintage fromula cars and those on these picture looks the real deal!
    I would be delighted to find out more on those

  12. Pingback: Soviet Racing -
  13. Those are Estonia 16-s (mostly)
    Made in Tallinn by small racing factory that exists even today. Not producing formula cars though – their last car, Estonia 26H9 was made in 2001.
    Estonias pretty much dominated the soviet formula scene and also gained wins from international races.

  14. More pictures and info on Estonia formula cars:

  15. Pingback: vintage racing photos from the USSR! « / iedei // automotive soul ///
  16. The article is putting it somewhat wrong. Pictures shown are not all from Russia at all. Soviet Union had occupied during World War II several countries, that are now independent again. Therefore I mean it’s wrong to tell ‘Russia’. First 2 photos of formulas are taken in Riga, capital of Latvia, on Bikernieki race track. The following formula photos are taken in Tallinn, capital of Estonia, on Pirita race track. As well as the road racing bikes are photographed on Riga’s track again.

    Greetings from Estonia.

    • Ma ise vaatasin ka, et pirita seal. Ma kuigi ise noor nolk ning pole sellel ajal elanud aga filme on nähtud ja väga meenutas lükati metsa :).

      It sure is Estonia, Pirita. To be correct it’s forest of Lükati on the background.

  17. It might be that the Western export models of Lada were better than those meant for the domestic market, but the cars were not that bad. Finland was not occupied by Soviet forces after the WW2, but for various reasons (notably lack of foreign currency in the country), importing of Western cars was strictly regulated until 1962 and Soviet cars (and other Eastern Bloc vehicles) dominated the market.

    However, because their low price and simple mechanics, vehicles like the good old rear-wheel-driven brick-on-wheels Lada were quite popular until Finland joined the European Union – it was found it was virtually impossible to make the old Fiat clone pass the safety, emission and noise standards of the 21th century.

    I’ve had my own share of driving experience on the good old Lada. As a daily-driver, it was not as abysmal as you might think. It was a bit clumsy, a bit slow (I’m speaking of about 15s acceleration of 0-100 km/h and a 130 km/h top speed), a bit thirsty (a carburator engine and a drag coefficient of a small house) and – some claim – a bit non-ergonomic. On the other hand it was rugged, quite reliable, easy to repair for a DIY guy and built for Siberian winters – a bit tricky to drive on ice but never refused to start because of cold.

    I still think of it as much more better than certain cheap Western vehicles such as the Opel Corsa model A, Peugeot 309 or Volvo 340.

    I also remember watching amateur rally racing in the 90’s – my family lived in a countryside house by a nice gravel road which was often used as a special course. The RWD Ladas were, as far as I know, quite competitive among their Western counterparts. In addition of tuning the original engine, the design can naturally be fitted with various Fiat parts of the same era, including the 2-liter twincam engine.

    For interested, here’s some Modern day Lada enthusiasts on a race track.

  18. Amazing car racing. comparing it with the one held today, we really made a big progress in the industrialization.


Leave a Comment