Not only victory is prestigious, honorable participation itself. These are the European "24 hours of Le Mans", the African "Dakar", the American "Indie 500".
In the Russian motorsport, such a contest, undoubtedly, was the winter track “Race of the Stars” for the prizes “At the wheel”. She is rightly considered the measure of sportsmanship and audience sympathy. Several generations of Soviet and Russian racers dreamed of participating in a dispute between the strongest on the ice track. The names of the winners of "Race of the Stars" entered the history of domestic motorsport - they are called today with respect and awe. It is no coincidence that the honorary guests of Race of Stars in different years were the presidents of the International Automobile Federation, Frenchman Jean-Marie Balester and Englishman Max Mosley. Other domestic races have not yet been awarded this.
HOW IT WAS
The magazine “Driving” launched its “Race of the Stars” in 1978. Much was then for the first time. The editorial staff invited the participants personally after a careful selection of candidates. She proposed an action-packed scheme with fleeting races - three or four laps depending on the nature of the track, where the results were determined by the sum of points scored by the riders. Each went to the start six times and each met twice with everyone!
By the way, the “Zarulevskaya” race system was so attractive that over time it became the same for all track races - the current championships and Cups of Russia are held in exactly the same way as the first “Star-78 Race”.
From the very beginning, she found her original prizes. And the main one (rolling) since 1984 has become many familiar purple crystal tire, worked out in the homeland of Russian crystal in Gus-Khrustalny - that year the race was held on a local lake, gathering on its banks, you can say, the whole city.
In the early years of the oil, the fierce rivalry of the plants - Moscow, Tolyatti, Izhevsk - added fuel to the crucible of the ZR race. It calmed down only with the arrival of the invincible VAZ "eight" in motorsport - then gradually all the racers in the country moved to it.
In 1989, for the first time, foreign pilots were invited to the “Race of Stars”: Finns arrived on well-trained foreign cars - their technical superiority was too obvious. And a few years later - in 1994, the race was held in two stages - in Izhevsk and Moscow. And its winner - Vladislav Shtykov the first of the Soviet racers spoke here on a foreign car - "Opel-Corsa". On this story, alas, temporarily cut off - the crystal tire took a place in the main office of the editorial office.
The message that “Behind the wheel” is reviving its signature “Race of the Stars” was received with a bang. The wheels spun! The editorial phones were torn from calls for a month. Where when? Who will go? What are the prizes? It was just right to include an answering machine: February 19, 2006, the Ramensky Republican Hippodrome. The main prize is the same crystal tire.
WHAT STILL NOT BEEN
The “Race of Stars” returned not in its original form, but with an interesting addition - super finals, where the participants started on the same Lada-Kalina cars. He won the super finals - he won the race. But first, all those personally invited by their cars skated a difficult program in a powerful company according to the table “16 arrivals, 16 participants”. All performed on the cars of the N-1600 group: Citroen Saxo, Honda Civic, Volkswagen Polo, Citroen C2. The editors also invited other stars: the heroes of Dakar Vladimir Chagin and Firdaus Kabirov, medalist of the FIA GT championship Alexei Vasiliev, the best racer of Russia in 2005 Vitaly Petrov. At the start, we, alas, did not see them. For one reason, one might say, there was no, as they reported, suitable technique.
Nothing can be done - over the past ten-plus years, much has changed. The times when all our aces performed in the same eights in winter and summer have left irrevocably. Today, foreign cars dictate the racing fashion and it is even more difficult to achieve equal conditions on different cars, even if they are prepared under the same technical regulation. For example, Honda Civic has a slight advantage from birth over its “colleagues” in the N-1600 group - variable valve timing (VTEC). Others have something of their own.
Nevertheless, the magazine found an opportunity to equalize the chances of the strongest - agreed with AvtoVAZ (let’s say thank you very much), and he provided six identical “viburnum” prepared by the sports department of the plant (1.4 liter engine, about 110 hp, safety cage, maximum body relief). Note that such a serial hatchback VAZ-1119 has not yet been on sale, so the spectacle for this reason alone became unique.
WHAT ELSE WILL BE
There were prizes to match the intensity of the race with super finals on the viburnum: the winner, in addition to the return of the famous crystal tire, relied on the Citroen C2. However, it is difficult to say that in this case it is more expensive for the masters of this class - the victory itself or its material expression. But, probably, it's time to look at the race not only from a sports perspective.
Very remarkable: the new chairman of the board of directors of AvtoVAZ OJSC Vladimir Artyakov, who arrived at the Race of Stars, first of all wanted to hear from the winner - Alexei Dudukalo, the answer to the question: how is Kalina? Not a race, not a result, not a prize - what a car! If you want, this is a sign of time.
The old hulking auto industry leaves the scene. A radical break-up awaits him, and above all at the VAZ. Let's not forget that in St. Petersburg the Toyota plant is being built, in the Moscow Region they are developing the construction site for Volkswagen, which Ford, Chevrolet and Renault have already made with their investments and produce cars here. And everyone who thus becomes a part of the Russian automobile industry is vitally interested in presenting their brands in the best possible way through motorsport, through races. So we won’t be surprised if, after a year, the initiative of AvtoVAZ, which put six new Kalina in the final of our race, is picked up by its rivals and we will applaud the “alien” brands.