Soviet Autosport (PART 1)
Happy Birthday Mr VFTS!
Every big project has a name and a last name of its manager. In Vilnius factory of transportation (VFTS) in Soviet Lithuania the production of the most powerful Zhiguli was founded by famous race driver Stasys Brundza.
He came into sport in the middle of 60’s. More and more participants took part then in competitions inside the country. For the first time Soviet drivers fought with the most distinguished sportsmen and perfect foreign cars on the European roads. Particularly active were drivers from three Baltic Republics. The young drivers of Kaunas radio technician factory team Stasys Brundza and Kastis Girdauskas began on “humpback” Zaporozhets ZAZ-965. In the winter 1967 Stasys on Zaporozhets went to horse track in Riga. Loosing on direct roads and winning in turns, he passed over all heavy Volgas Gaz-21, but couldn’t fight Moskviches with hardened racers from MZMA (AZLK).
In the beginning of the 70’s Stasys became a member of the new factory Izhmash team with perfectly prepared bright orange cars «IZH-rally». In absolute qualification of the USSR championship 1971 Stasys Brundza and Antoly Brum took the first place.
In different countries Brundza took one medal place after another, competiting with Porshe, Reno- Gordini, Ford-Capri and other foreign cars. Finally S. Brundza and A. Karamyshev took the first place in absolute qualification in «Tour European Rally» 1974, with 15 thousand km distance through Europe, Asia and Middle East. He was the champion in his motherland the USSR the whole decade. He was driving different cars with different navigators, but in personal qualification from 1974 till 1983 he permanent took one of three medal places.
A Belorussian racer Vyacheslav Russkikh remembered Brundza driving skills: «After all we studied in Lithuania by Brundza himself… It was not just a driving school, it was, so to say, the driving culture. We stood in interesting positions of turns and watched Brundza driving. He had a plain style without any rough movements, drifts. That’s why he managed to drive very quickly. «Classic» is very sensitive to drifts, and we needed to make it go without sliding. It saved time»
Soviet «Abarth», Soviet Gordini
By the middle of 70-s the managers of Soviet rally team decided to prepare Zhiguli for the highest European level by a foreign firm. In cooperation with Polish affiliate of Castrol they contracted Italian studio Abarth. Since 50’s this famous company had been preparing Fiats (including 124 series) for rally. Why Abarth, where Fiats-124 were known in details, can’t be asked to prepare Zhiguly for rally? In result the car and two engines went in Turin. However the company didn’t meet the deadline, and the deal delayed for long months, the car was finally made and returned in the USSR. Test drives on Dmitrovsky practice ground and then in Tolyatti showed that the car had 140 horse power and kept steadily 175 km/h.
The car, prepared by Abarth, was taken by Brundza as a sample, when he began to prepare his first LADA for rally «Akropolis» in Greece 1976. He worked in one of the boxes of sport-technical club of Force and Navy Volunteer Society in Lithuania. It was approved by its chief S. Ramoshko. In Greece Brundza managed to take the second place in class up to 2000cc, and the sixth in the absolute qualification.
Akropolis race. The next car, in which all good findings, mistakes and experience from competitions were taken into account, Stasys was making in a new workshop. Exactly from there his new firm has grown.
For few years Brundza had been pushing the idea of a special factory preparing cars for rally. Not single cars, upgraded in factories and sport clubs, but a serial production, built by a steady producer, based on a typical engineering documentation – that is the step to Soviet analog of Abarth, Gordini or Koswort.
The initiative was supported by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways SSR of Lithuania. In the Vilnus automotive equipment maintenance factory Stasys got an experimental area. 1978 two new workrooms were finished: new white dalle, lift, machines, perfect for 70’s tools and diagnostic stands. The factory’s director V. Davulis, his deputy G. Stepanov, head engineer B. Skeyris and Party Committеe secretary V. Kuznetsov met the new sport workshop with great enthusiasm. They were inspired with the experience of their colleagues from Tallin factory, producing racing cars “Estonia”.
«Automotive repairman – are masterful people - told director Vitautas Davulis to reporter of «At the wheel» magazine – the works connected with the preparation of cars for competition are professionally close to them».
Lada Moscow congratulates Mr Brundza and wishes him great health and long race of life!