By on March 24, 2017

auto curling

Maybe it’s the cold, the dodgy economy, or lingering memories of decades spent lining up for milk. Whatever the motivation, Russians don’t seem to need the latest and greatest high-tech gadget to help them pass the time. Nope, just grab a few friends, spend a few rubles amassing a collection of ancient hatchbacks, and hit the ice.

The winter of 2017 has brought an inventive new sport to the frozen wastes of the Motherland, and locals can thank a plethora of worthless, Soviet-era crapwagons for the entertainment. Apparently, there are automobiles worth less than stones.

In the snowy city of Yekaterinburg, the hardly inhabitants of Sverdlovsk Oblast can thank the lowly VAZ-1111 Oka for their new pastime of auto curling. Yes, it’s the same game of precision, boredom and confusing scoring that takes place in buildings you hope to never enter, only with larger rocks. In this case, two-cylinder ones.

Designed in the late 1970s, the Oka eventually made it to production in 1988 and lingered until 2008. Looking like an even cheaper version of the Ford Festiva, the bargain-basement Oka was renowned for its cheapnesss, inexpensiveness, affordability, low ownership costs, and off-road ability. Its 650 cc twin was actually a Lada Samara engine cut in half.

Perhaps the city of Yekaterinburg was still annoyed by all the press a certain city to the south got a few years back with its explode-y asteroid. Certainly, it figured it was about damn time for an event worthy of national publicity. (A 1979 military anthrax outbreak notwithstanding.) So, on a large public skating rink, it cobbled together two teams of Oka drivers. Just like in a regular game of curling, the teams attempted to slide their “stone” closest to the bulls-eye painted on the ice.

In order to lighten the vehicles, and for safety, window glass and engines were jettisoned pre-tournament. Thus, the cars got underway in the same manner as a curling stone, minus the seemingly pointless sweeping and incessant cries of “hurry haaaard!” What does that even mean?

“Loud bangs could be heard all around, as the fragile Okas, cars that were considered somewhat a joke even by Soviet consumers brought up on Ladas, clattered into each other,” reported RT.

The winning team walked away with approximately $1,600, which could buy dozens, if not hundreds,  of VAZ-1111 Okas.

[Image capture: TACC/YouTube]

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18 Comments on “Freaky Friday: Russians Just Know How to Have a Good Time, Period...”


  • avatar
    slavuta

    Russian dash cam vids are the best

    • 0 avatar
      Tosh

      “Russians don’t seem to need the latest and greatest high-tech gadget to help them pass the time.”
      But those dashcams sure help ME pass the time…!

    • 0 avatar
      bullnuke

      They are the best. I am impressed with how Lada’s take pretty good beatings and keep on going.

      • 0 avatar
        Sjalabais

        Isn’t that exactly what they were built for? The “director’s cars” GAZ 24 are built on a chassis that looks as if it was meant to support a truck.

        I have had to stop watching these videos after 5-6 years…I just expect mayhem everywhere. Just not a skill I need on tranquile and civilized Norwegian roads.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Be careful of what you say Steph…you might get shot in the street, pushed out of a 4th floor window, linger in prison for nearly a year then suddenly die, be poisoned once or twice, or become wrapped up in American politics…

    Heard on the news: Politics, from the Latin Poly, meaning many, and tics, meaning blood sucking parasites…

    “Its 650 cc twin was actually a Lada Samara engine cut in half.”

    Did we get that idea from the Soviets or did they get it from Detroit?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    $1600 is about 6 weeks’ salary in Russia.

    But I suspect the real goal is to score one of the cute cheerleaders there, after the celebration at the pub.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    These guys would have LOVED Cash for Clunkers.

    ’97 Explorer versus ’99 Caravan in Car Hockey.

  • avatar
    OldManPants

    When are WE going to get cars with realistic ride height and suspension travel for our ever more Russian roads?

    • 0 avatar
      RHD

      Maybe the SUV/CUV trend is so strong.
      But the 40-aspect-ratio tires trend is undermining it.
      We need higher sidewalls!

      • 0 avatar
        OldManPants

        I’d have tundra tires on my cars if I could.

        Squooshy-cushy and just drive slower.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          People would ask me how my heavy 1962 Buick LeSabre never got stuck in the snow in New England. I told them I’d let some air out of the tires and drive slower to avoid wheel spin, and always had traction.

          They never believed me. I told that to a niece’s husband, and he didn’t even know how to let air out of tires, let alone change the tire itself. He had never done either one!

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            Yep, the more experience and expertise you’ve accrued the less you’re ever believed.

            But I guess you can’t run an economy with only demystifying smarties.

          • 0 avatar
            Cactuar

            The real question is: who failed to teach him these basic skills?

  • avatar
    dougjp

    This is a great idea. Could be done here with Chevettes or ?

    • 0 avatar
      John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

      Chevettes are RWD. That alone makes them LS-able I’m thinking.

      How about automatic Ford Festiva/Aspire, Geo Metro and Storm, late 80s Tercel that uses more oil than gas, Hyundai Excel if you could get it running long enough, there are plenty of terrible cars few would miss.

      Now, nice condition manual trans models of (some of) the above don’t apply.

      Hell, we could go newer, like the 2.7L Intrepid/similar, Ford Wind/Freestar, GM U minivans, later Sebrings and 2nd gen Stratus. Round up Dodge Calibers, early CompASS with the horrible front fascia, anything really with the awful World engine. Sounds like an excellent way to put those piles of flaming dog excrement out of their misery.

  • avatar
    John-95_Taurus_3.0_AX4N

    Never met any “hardly inhabitants” but we used to buy beaters at abandoned vehicle auctions and have similar fun, just not on ice lol. More like an off road course. I had a Mazda GLC that saw more air than an average 747. We put RC Racer fuel in it. It idled at like 3500 rpm after that lol. It had a blown head gasket and was really in awful shape, the other cars were similar.

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    “The winning team walked away with approximately $1,600, which could buy dozens, if not hundreds, of VAZ-1111 Okas.”

    $1600 is about 90k rubles give or take. A really rusty non-runner Oka could probably be found for 5k rubles, 10k for a really rough runner.

    Also worth looking at in the crazy world of Russian motorsports is ZiL farm truck racing:
    https://youtu.be/hEX9rlHQTFE

  • avatar
    Big Al From 'Murica

    In Russia…car crashes YOU!!!

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