Home > Features > Keimola Track Visit 2000
Event info
Date : August 2000
Present : Lauri Ouvinen, Matti Ouvinen and Ville Tikkaoja
Photos : 12

Founded in 1965 by Curt Lincoln, the most famous Finnish racing driver of the 50's, Keimola was the first proper racing circuit in Finland. It was 3,3 km long with a 1 km long main straight and had mostly constant radius corners with banking. The track was built in quite a short time and was opened in 1966. Later it became a real motor stadium as a karting circuit and a rally cross circuit was also built into the area. During its relatively short history, Keimola hosted several international racing events, including F2 races in 1966 and 1967 (with drivers such as Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Jack Brabham, Dennis Hulme, Jochen Rindt) and Interserie races (for some of the fastest sports cars ever built e.g. Porsche 917 with around 1000 HP) from 1969 to 1972.

Despite its location close to the centre of Helsinki, the track failed to attract big crowds and year by year the economical situation got worse. It didn't help that the residents in the few surrounding suburbs were complaining about the noise (although that didn't stop a motor way being built there later...) The energy crisis in the 1970's was the final blow for the circuit which was officially closed in 1978. However, some people kept on taking their cars and motor bikes to the track and having illegal races there. After a nearly fatal accident in 1985 (after a collision with a moose), a decision was made to destroy the surface in order to prevent illegal racing on the circuit. Nowadays there are trees pushing through the tarmac in many places. Nevertheless, you can still follow your way around as we did.

There have been plans to destroy the remains of the track, in order to replace it with a residential area. We think that Keimola is an important part of Finnish motor racing history and it shouldn't be allowed to be destroyed. There have been some moves to try to save the circuit, especially during the last decade or so. There's a web page, where they collect names for an address. You can find some more info there. Even if Keimola probably couldn't be converted into a modern racing circuit, something could be done. One interesting idea would be creating there a sort of a park devoted to motorsports that could even host historic racing events. The adjoint karting circuit, where Mika Häkkinen started his racing career, could be entirely reconstructed.

Our tour:

We have planned visiting Keimola for some time, but not until summer of 2000 did we actually go there. We arrived to the track's main straight via a bridge, which crosses over the motor way which lies just beside the straight. It was a sunny warm day in August - a perfect day to visit Keimola. It was quite strange in many ways to be there. There was that revatively narrow long lane of asphalt between all those threes and bushes. In some places the bushes and grass were pushing through it. Some ways it was hard to imagine that one day this place was free of those trees and that it was actually a race track were cars were driving nearly three times faster than on the motor way next by.

We started our tour around the track from the start/finish line. The chequered line painting can still be seen there. Even though the start/finish line is nearly at the half way on the main straight, it still was quite a long way to the first corner. As we arrived the first corner there was an almost completely fallen tree over the track and also a filled ditch, which was dug to the track in order to prevent illegal racing (as explained above). In the middle of the corner there was also a block of cutted trees. The corner itself seemed to be quite interesting and had quite a lot of banking, which seemed to be the case with other turns as well.

After first corner we arrived to the pit straight after a little kink. As there were so many trees we still haven't seen the race control tower, which apart from the track itself is just one of a few things still existing. Finally we saw it behind the trees. The tower was quite big, but obviously not that huge as in its days when it was the landmark of the area. We climbed up to the tower and it gave a view above the track. But as it was summer, the trees had leaves and you couldn't see the track very far.

We continued out tour to the pit curve, which is a 180 degree curve quite similar to the first curve. After it comes the VW curve, which has its name from the Volkswagen sponsored grandstand which once was there. The curve is a double apex turn. At that point we found parts of the old kerbing, which was painted yellow and white. It was partly destroied and covered with moss. After VW curve there is a sequence of left-right turns before BP left hander, which again has its name from BP sponsored grandstand. BP is followed by an unnamed right hand turn. Between these turns there were some garbage on the track. The right hand turn leads to the final and most famous turn Saunalenkki. The name is from the Finnish sausage Saunalenkki, whose sponsors appeared in that turn. As we arrived there was remains of a completely burnt car (not a racing one, though :)). The track is basicly flat, but when approaching Saunalenkki, it drops down quite a lot and starts to climb up again when exiting the corner to the main straight. When the track has flattened again there are remains of the old Neste advertisement arch. After that there is a short cut the pit curve, which could be used for the shorter version of the track. And after a little while we are again back on the start/finish line...

Here's the track map and the numbers of pictures in places they were taken:

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