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They raced with toddlers and polonaises. They dreamed of Formula 1, they even signed Bernie Ecclestone

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They built it as a test track for a factory where tarpans were made. But from the beginning it was clear that this would be primarily a place to race. One of the first competitions at Tor Poznań was the competition of polonaises and toddlers. The hosts dreamed of attracting the best of the best. And they had already had a word with the Formula 1 authorities.

The race of Polonaises and Fiat 126p on Tor Poznań accompanied the 50th jubilee Poznań International Fair. Their co-organizer was Automobilklub Wielkopolski. The competition took place on June 10 and 11, 1978.

Built for Tarpan

Tor Poznań was only a few months old. It opened on December 2, 1977. The first race had taken place just a month earlier, in May 1978.

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The track is located 10 kilometers west of the center of Poznań. It was originally created as an experimental track for Fabryka Samochodów Rolniczych, which had been producing Tarpans since 1972 – agricultural Wielkopolska released vehicles for a Polish farmer. From the beginning, however, it was known that the test track was just a ruse. Unofficially, it was assumed that it would be used primarily for racing.

The results of the tapping from the Poznań factoryStanisław Wiktor / CYRYL

They were giving away cars

The race was admired by 20,000 people. The attraction that attracted them was not only competition on the track, but also a lottery. Among those who bought tickets, three vouchers for a “small Fiat” and one for a polonaise were drawn.

Toddlers on the track, service in a caravan from NiewiadówStanisław Wiktor / CYRYL

First, drivers in 20 “little ones” stood at the start line. In this competition, the Voivode’s Cup was to be won, which went to Lech Świątek.

Winner in the category of Fiat 126 pStanisław Wiktor / CYRYL

Then, the newest child of the Polish automotive industry, i.e. the Polonaises, whose premiere took place only a month earlier, was joined by the best Polish and Czechoslovak rally drivers, but also the rally vice-champion of Europe from 1975 – Italian Fulvio Bacchelli. Serial polonaises sent by the Passenger Car Factory took part in the competition. Everyone had – at least in theory – the same car.

Polonaises were delivered straight from FSOStanisław Wiktor / CYRYL

“After the first bend, Andrzej Smorawiński took the lead. Then, after two laps, the leader was Adam Polak, but soon he was overtaken by the driver of AW Krzysztof Różewski. The Italian Fulvio Bacchelli, Adam and Andrzej Smorawiński and Maciej Stawowiak were also in the lead. On the sixth lap, Adam Smorawiński attacked and he took the lead. However, it did not last long, because a cracked seal in his polonaise eliminated him from further fights. Ultimately, Krzysztof Różewski won the polonaise race. The following places were taken by: 2nd Fulvio Bacchelli, 3rd Maciej Stawowiak from Warsaw “- we read in the report on the website of Automobilklub Wielkopolski.

– Of course, winning gave me great satisfaction, but I have the advantage over my competitors that I drive on the track almost every day, sometimes 300 km, I know every meter of it and that probably decided my success, because we all had the same cars – said the winner after polonaise race.

A soft polonaise

President of Tor Poznań Adam Smorawiński did not finish the race. When asked by journalists about how the Polonaise performed on the track, he replied: – It is too soft for competitive driving, it lies down on corners, but it was not designed for this purpose. Other than that, I have no complaints.

Adam Smorawiński after the race during the opening of Tor PoznańStanisław Wiktor / CYRYL

The cup in this category was funded by the chairman of the Municipal National Council in Poznań.

The race ended with a mixed competition – drivers of MTP exhibitors checked in at the start in their cars: Fiats, Ladas, Skodas. “The factory Fiat competition was won by Janusz Serla from Bielsko-Biała, and the fastest of the four starting journalists was Jan Okulicz from the Sportowiec weekly. The handicap race ended with the victory of Janusz Kiljańczyk from Warsaw, driving a Renault 5 car, followed by Andrzej Smorawiński and Adam A Pole who competed in Fiat 125p” – we read on the Automobilklub Wielkopolski website.

Fiat 125p competition. At the head of Andrzej SmorawinskiStanisław Wiktor / CYRYL

– In the following years, when we manage to convince a larger number of foreign teams to start, we can talk about an event on a European scale (…) We dream of organizing an international motor show. And then the races at the “Poznań” Track could be an integral part of it – said Henryk Sitarek, MTP director at the end of the event.

Hope for Formula 1

In 1979, a special guest from Canada, Walter Wolf, the owner of the Formula 1 team, came to the 2nd Fair Car Race. He brought to Poznań the car which Jody Schecker had won the Monaco Grand Prix a year earlier. Behind the wheel in the capital of Wielkopolska sat the son of the prime minister – Andrzej Jaroszewicz, at whose invitation the Canadian came to Poznań.

There was a chance that the sight of a Formula 1 car would not be a sensation here. At that time, the Formula 1 authorities were looking for a track in the countries of the socialist bloc. This opportunity was taken advantage of. Adam Smorawiński went to the Grand Prix the Netherlandswhere he first met the legendary Bernie Eccleston, already the most important person in F1 at the time. The Englishman immediately picked up on the idea and after 10 days he came to Poznań to see the track with his own eyes. The visit was successful: there are no obstacles for a Formula 1 race to be held here, said Adam Smorawiński.

“Our government got in the way. Apparently, it was not proper to organize such exclusive events in such a poor country. A period of political change was underway; the matter was neglected. meanwhile in our side of the world they decided to go for Formula 1 Hungarya country not richer than us – Smorawiński recalled in the book “From Tarpan to Volkswagen”.

The Formula 1 race at the Hungaroring in Hungary was held for the first time in 1986. Competitions are held there to this day.

Main photo source: Stanisław Wiktor / CYRYL

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