While watching TV nearly 18 years ago, Easton resident Andrew Blackwood first saw offroad trucks racing in Iceland. He recalls seeing these machines scaling near-vertical hills covered in loose dirt and volcanic ash. Often, they roared to the top and sailed over with ease. Sometimes they tumbled backwards, victims of the harsh realities of gravity and physics. If that weren’t captivating enough, the next segment showed these same machines driving across water.
Formula Offroad is no longer the best-kept secret in the world of motorsports. What began as a friendly contest among enthusiasts in 1965 soon expanded across the tiny island nation. Over decades it evolved into an international sensation, with teams across northern Europe. Online streaming video and social media are now bringing footage to everyone, and most are then eager to see the action live. After first leaving the shores of Iceland for Sweden in 1990, Icelandic Formula Offroad finally arrived in North America in 2016 and continues to gain traction and captivate audiences. October 2018 will be the third race in the USA.
So, what’s the big deal? Imagine taking the childhood style of driving a toy truck vertically up cliffs, leaping through the air, zipping through the mud or skipping across a puddle. Now imagine doing that in a 3,800-pound, 1,600 horsepower monster. These machines can tackle impossible hills or skim across water on a 1,000-foot course. Water depth can range from two to 20 feet, but the drivers all agree – the water is never deep if you just drive across the surface.
It took Andrew nearly a decade to first arrive in Iceland. Awed by landscape, food and the culture, he was unable to find any information about the offroad racing. Several trips later and with the help of a friend in northern Iceland, Andrew found himself in the fall of 2014 in a small residential garage. This is where he met Gestur J Ingolfsson, owner of the Formula Offroad truck “Draumurinn” – Icelandic for “The Dream.” Gestur is just one of dozens piloting these machines over, across or through any obstacle in their path. After many trips to Iceland and learning about the sport, Andrew was invited to join “Team Draumurinn” in the spring of 2016. This July, in Akranes, Iceland, he will take the wheel to become the first American to compete in the Icelandic Formula Offroad Championship.
Three distinct classes offer something for everyone. The street-driven class is just that: vehicles on the track just as they are driven on the street. They can be seen scaling the hills with license tags and blinking taillights. The modified class requires the machine to maintain the production style body but allows for mechanical upgrades. The unlimited class has a ‘few’ stipulations, but not many. These extreme machines claw their way toward the sky without limits to horsepower or design. There’s no running start to the hill climbs, and all tracks have several gates the driver must navigate. It’s very similar to downhill slalom skiing – only uphill, in loose terrain on steep slopes. Drivers earn points for going through the gate and lose points for striking the gate, reversing or stopping. If they rollover, their points stop until the next track.
To watch live video streams, learn more, or support the team with your own “Dream Gear,” visit www.teamdraumurinn.com or www.ifoteamdream.com. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @teamdraumurinn. To learn more about the sport of Icelandic Formula Offroad and discover more teams, visit www.icelandicformulaoffroad.com. To get involved in this growing sport as a sponsor or competitor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.