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Absolute surrealism: small racing cars gnawing on ice illuminated by hundreds of garlands with studded wheels, surrounded by a Yak-42 airliner, a Su-27 fighter and a Mi-8 helicopter. The pilots drive in a controlled drift along a track laid around the Vostok launch vehicle looking into the sky, and this whole drift carousel rotates non-stop for two hours. It’s just that the skating rink of one of the main parks in the country was turned into an ice racing arena for one day – nothing similar in format and atmosphere has probably been held in the world. I was one of the lucky ones who received an invitation to a unique event.

The race, called “Sports Russia, Ice for Special Purposes,” had the status of a demonstration race. This first of all means that the process is much more important than the result. The main goal is to have fun and show a high level of racing culture and equipment management skills. All this is arranged in order to make motorsport more popular and closer to the audience through the beauty of the action. And to demonstrate that safe and spectacular racing is possible even on such unusual temporary city tracks.

The race was organized by the Museum of the Special Purpose Garage of the Federal Security Service of Russia, the administration of VDNKh and the directorate of the International Exhibition and Forum “Russia” together with the MIKS karting club
MIKS Karting The sports coordinator was the honored racer and motorsport figure Alexey Vasiliev, who designed a fascinating track configuration on the ice of the VDNKh skating rink
Dmitry Laskov

Despite the friendly format, the teams were still hungry for cups. After all, the organizers invited famous Russian racers from various motorsport disciplines and people who develop racing in our country. As well as representatives of the automotive press and guys from the “Karting Without Borders” project, which allows people with disabilities to participate in races – there were 13 teams in total. Since most of the participants consisted of top-level pilots, there was a serious fight for victory.

Racing equipment – club cars “Mix Kart Sport” used for the regular MIKS championship, built on the basis of a Russian-made frame
Dmitry Laskov The main and almost the only modification compared to the version for the indoor track is studded tires
Dmitry Laskov Additional weights were not used in the cars this time, so debate raged in the paddock about who had an advantage on the ice – light pilots or, on the contrary, heavy pilots
MIKS Karting

Among the drivers were formula pilots Vitaly Petrov and Viktor Maslov, circuit drivers Vladimir Atoev, Zakhar Slutsky and Vitaly Larionov, fast karting drivers Denis and Roman Mavlanov, as well as Ivan Ekelchik and John Bagdasarov, owner of the RDS drift series Dmitry Dobrovolsky, rally-raid master Airat Mardeev from the KAMAZ-master team, honored racer and auto enthusiast Alexey Vasiliev and other well-known names in the world of Russian motorsport.

In 2015, I already took part in a similar race, which was also organized by the MIKS karting club at the same VDNH skating rink. But it was not held in such an elegant format, but in the form of a trial get-together – a report on this can be read here. In those years, I actively competed in rental karting, and was pleasantly surprised by the fact that many faster pilots than me on the ice lost their pace advantage. The unusual coverage put many tops on par with the middle ones, and I was counting on something similar now.

Retarders and track organizers in slow turns were made from barrels. For better stability on ice, they were filled with 35 kilograms of sand and spikes were welded to the bottom.
Mikhail Kononchuk Safety on the temporary ice track was monitored even more closely than during regular racing on a stationary karting track.
MIKS Karting Therefore, most contacts with rivals and fences were generously but fairly (almost) punished with fines
Mikhail Voskresensky, photo host agency RIA Novosti

But already during training it became clear: the general level of training of the riders has grown greatly over these 9 years, and there will no longer be an easy fight. Then I took fourth place in qualifying, and now two dozen pilots (including all members of our Press Cards media team) were driving at the same high pace, and several more people were consistently faster than everyone else. However, Vladimir Melnikov (represents the Youtube channel of the same name and the Autoreview newspaper) got us second place in qualifying, which allowed him not to participate in the showdowns and blockages that were inevitable in the first laps.

Even Vladimir Melnikov, who does not like rental karting, was delighted and claimed that he was ready to drive alone at least the entire race from start to finish
VDNH press service He had just won the MaxPowerIce Rally Sprint Championship in his Impreza GT. But literally the next day, having changed to a toy kart compared to the all-wheel drive Subaru, I was glowing with motorsport happiness
MIKS Karting

The reader is unlikely to be interested in all the twists and turns of the struggle on the track, so I’d better tell you about the sensations behind the wheel. Two hours for four pilots in a team means four stints (as racing segments-sessions are called) with an average of 30 minutes each. During this time, it is critically important: do not freeze; do not make a mistake and do not get stuck in the virgin soil on the side of the trajectory; drive consistently fast; do not pick up fines for respecting the boundaries of the track, contact wrestling and reading flags; change on time and clearly. A mistake at any stage – go ahead, goodbye, because there is always an opponent behind you who is just waiting for this.

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Finding good speed in these conditions is not easy, but it is quite possible for experienced riders. Three quarters of the distance the kart travels in a slide, shifting from side to side and changing the skid angle. Brakes are almost not needed, because the studded tire perfectly slows down the car in a sideways slide. The main task of the pilot is to accurately calculate the phases of “setting up”, passing the apex (it is important not to be greedy with speed, otherwise the losses will be huge) and the fastest straightening at the exit for acceleration. The difficulty is that the turns differ greatly in configuration, and the track surface is uneven: in some places the ice is more slippery, and in others there are ruts or bumps.

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An additional complication is that work with the car and the track takes place in conditions of defending positions from some opponents and attacking others. But even in such a bustle, at some point you get into a rhythm and begin to automatically churn out lap after lap as clearly and quickly as the car allows (for there is no absolutely “smooth” equipment in any karting club). When you finally reach this pace, it is important to simply maintain concentration and not make mistakes.

But we did, and several penalties plus one ejection, combined with (apparently) telemetry being confused in our own data, dropped us from fourth or fifth to ninth place. It’s a bit of a shame, but in exhibition races it’s considered bad manners to challenge the results after the finish—festivals are organized for fun, not to sort things out. Moreover, we still did not qualify for the highest step of the podium. The main thing is that the pleasure is received, the skill is pumped up, and the pace is calibrated according to the best of the best.

Our team consisted of me (Dmitry Laskov), Vladimir Melnikov (Autoreview), Mikhail Kononchuk (freelance author of Motor) and Vadim Gagarin (Auto Mail.ru). Everyone showed great pace, but lacked organization and luck
MIKS Karting The race was rightly won by the fastest, most experienced and organized – the “NAMI” team consisting of universal pilot and racing instructor Alexander Dudarev (second from left), the Mavlanov brothers and fast amateur Evgeniy Kotenko (far right)
MIKS Karting

Winter rental karting is not a very common phenomenon, but is in demand among a narrow circle of enthusiasts. For ordinary people, it is more difficult than the summer one due to the high chances of making a mistake and standing for part of the race waiting for help, as well as discomfort caused by the cold. In order not to freeze, you need to use snowmobile or ski equipment, and especially you should insulate your fingers on all extremities. The helmet is either a motocross helmet with a mask, or a car/motorcycle helmet, but with the obligatory treatment of the visor with antifog liquid.

VDNH press service VDNH press service VDNH press service MIKS Karting MIKS Karting

And in order not to get stuck in the parapets and have a good time on any track, you need to train more in the most varied conditions. In rain and snow; on asphalt, soil and ice; with opponents and against a stopwatch; on maps and “bodies”; on sports and rental equipment.

Most of the participants in the Special Purpose Ice race have just such extensive motorsport experience, and it was this that helped them quickly adapt to the unusual track and technology. A beautiful fight on a beautiful track – it was truly legendary. I would like to believe that this format of ice competitions at VDNKh will finally become regular. /m

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