||April 27-28, 2002
Eltsu Sprint 2002 was a rally sprint event formed on the roots of the legendary
Eläintarha Race (Eläintarhan ajot in Finnish) held near the centre of Helsinki.
The event's nickname became Eltsu. The original event was first run in 1932 and it became
very popular. In the 50's the event drew around 90 000 spectators. During its time Eltsu
was Finland's biggest circuit racing motorsport happening. Many Finnish motorsport stars
built their career there including names like Curt Lincoln and Rauno Aaltonen. Eltsu
had many different kinds of races including some formula cars and motorcycles.
Eltsu was a street circuit using some narrow streets near the Helsinki Olympic stadium.
It was also pretty dangerous because of the number of trees just besides the streets.
As the speeds of the cars grew it became more and more dangerous. Serious accidents
couldn't be avoided even though some safety precautions took place. During the 50's two
motorcycle rides got killed and in 1962 a photographer died after being hit by
a motorcycle. In the following year in 1963 there was a big accident at the start of
a Formula Junior race in which Swedish driver Örjan Atterberg lost his life. That
was the end for Eltsu and the event was never run again. In order to keep motor racing
near Helsinki the Keimola circuit was built in 1966. Have a look at our Features section
for the visit to the remains of Keimola here.
Eltsu Sprint 2002
So the original event was never run again in its old form. In 1992 a memorial event
was organised, but it wasn't until this year that the cars had been run in anger at the
old Eltsu again. This time it was in a form of rally sprint and not circuit racing.
Almost the whole Eltsu circuit was used and also a small part at the start of the course
which was not part of the original track. Even though the event was not a part of a
major championship it drew quite a big number of participants. Many drivers of course
wanted to drive on the legendary Eltsu. Eltsu Sprint didn't gather as many spectators as
in the haydays of the original event. However, a good number of spectators were at the
scene in these two fine spring days.
Eltsu wouldn't be nothing without remembering the old days. So there were a lot of
motorcycles and cars used at races in the original Eltsu. Also a demonstration runs
took place with some of these cars and bikes. Some old drivers were also present at the
The actual sprint event took place on both days with qualifications on Saturday and finales
on Sunday. The event had various classes and plenty of different kinds of cars from some
new rally cars to some older tuned sprint cars. During all the runs pretty much the same
names were at the top. After the finales Pasi-Matti Pulkkinen was comfortably fastest
taking the win in his VW Golf Rallye G60. Marko Haverinen and Matti Santti finished also
on the podium with Hannu Ruohorinne and Kari Tasanko completing the top 5.
The following photos contain pictures of the actual sprint event and also of the old
cars and bikes.