Jokamiesluokka is a Finnish type of rally cross, done for shits and giggles, where you may be forced to sell the car you came in if someone else wants it.
It is nearly impossible not to love the Finns. They've got sauna sans swimsuits, tar liquor, pointed-hair musical cowboys, and Fisker Karma-making Valmet. Legend has it that if you get a Finn to go to your wedding, they will ship at least two and possibly all four of the aforementioned items ahead of them and everyone will have a good time.
Finland is home to just over 5 million people and has produced more than its fair share of rally and F1 champs. As they say, if you want to win, hire a Finn. But perhaps most important, while the Finns understand driving, they also get hoon. Spat out of the womb with steering wheels in their hands, like many of us over here, they like their liquor strong, their metal loud and their cars hack-sawed. They are our ski-jumping, herring-eating, koskenkorva-drinking Nordic redneck brothers and sisters and we love them for that.
Jokamiesluokka is Finnish for hell yeah. A type of rally cross, it's not about big horsepower and triple-digit speed. In fact, the gravel and tarmac used in these races are designed to limit the speed of the cars to around 80 kilometers per hour. Fart box racing at its finest, Jokamiesluokka, is about getting around the track with as much boogie as you can squeeze out of your rattling four cylinder in laps that are punctuated by the occasional famous Finn crash.
The races are conducted in several heats with points being allotted to drivers in each heat, with first place getting the most points, and so forth. The drivers with the highest total points go on to duke it out in the finals.
This is a sport that takes all comers. Even if you can't pronounce it, you can do it. Men, women, teens, licensed and unlicensed. In keeping with its "Everyone's class" ideology, and Finn egalitarian ideals, the cars are cheap with strict price limits placed on them. The cars do have safety equipment but generally contestants cannot spend more than $1000 – $2000 on their cars. In other words, there is not a single car out here that can blip its own throttle. Most of your traction control comes from cheap tires and old school car control. And, if you want heated seats, you'll have to pee on them. What they do have are homely, pock-metaled, hack-sawed beaters bouncing around on gravel like nobody's business for the pure fun of it. Although the Finns have produced their fair share of champions in other racing, there's no glamour here. The girl you picked up at the dive bar because she seemed more fun than she was pretty – a Maryann and not a Ginger - that's exactly what this is. Hell, even your friends can score at this bar.
Of course, because it is Finnish, there is a simple bit of odd genius thrown-in. Not satisfied with merely placing price limits on the entrants' race cars, the Finns have created an additional disincentive for anyone who might even think of spending a little extra cash on his or her car, or hell, even forming an emotional attachment to it. In Jokamiesluokka, anyone may bid on anyone else's car. And, if you are the target of the bid, you have to sell it, right there, on the spot. If you do not, you can be disqualified from participating in the race. This is a concept that, like so many things that are Finnish by design, is brilliant in its simplicity. Put in an extra bit of craft work in that V-Dub Beetle you showed up in and, guess what, you likely won't be going home with it. (Imagine if that were to happen at your next local club race.)
If you've ever gone to a local track event, perhaps impressed by the cars out there, the shiny paint, the big brake kits, the expense of it all, but maybe also a bit saddened by all the tidy hands, closed hoods, and dipstick-free engineering in the straight-off-the-showroom-floor racers, then this kind of stuff should warm the cockles of your heart. Like the 24 Hours of LeMons, it's a little bit goofy, but a lot of awesome.
As so deftly put, "Just put on helmet an' let it go!"
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