Iceland is known for originating the badass motorsport called Formula Offroad. Which is interesting considering that it’s actually illegal to go off the beaten path in Iceland and if you get caught they will lock you up. The only exception to that strictly enforced law is the Formula Offroad Championships that was first started back in 1965. To make the best of the situation, Icelandic offroad junkies decided to make it as extreme as they possibly could.
What you end up with are incredibly powerful and lightweight vehicles that are doing things you wouldn’t think possible at rock quarries and other specifically designated areas all over the country. They climb steep gravel hills with vertical rock faces and can even drive on water, which most people will have to see in order to believe. It’s amazing what’s possible when you have a custom built four wheel drive system, massive paddle tires, and as much as 1500hp coming from a screaming V8 and a whole bunch of nitrous.
The paddle tires are much larger than what you’ll see on most vehicles at the sand dunes. You might see something close on one of these sand cars that also produces up over 1000hp, but that’ll only be on the rear wheels. In order to get the best traction possible, the Formula machines run full lockers front and rear. However since front lockers make steering incredibly difficult, someone came up with the brilliant idea of setting it up where the front tires actually spin faster than the rear. This allows the front wheels to help pull the buggy through a turn, up over a rock face, or maybe most importantly keep your front end afloat as you cross a pond. That is assuming you have the guts to keep your foot pinned to the firewall with the risk doing a gymnastics routine down a hill or sinking to the bottom of a lake, river, or pond.
Autocar attended the most recent event in southern Iceland and they met up with the defending champion, 25-year-old Snorri Thor Arnason. Snorri gives them the full rundown on his buggy he calls “ChoirBoy” and what makes him so competitive in the series. This type of racing has started to make its way to the United States and I for one hope that it continues to grow in popularity. How cool would it be to have the Formula Offroad Championships added to the already popular King of Hammers or Mint 400 competitions?