Back in late 2018, I contacted Paddy and pitched the idea of properly contributing to Speedhunters by exploring car culture in Russia and Eastern Europe. At this point in time I was a regular contributor to the IAMTHESPEEDHUNTER program, and it was off the back of those submissions that Paddy gave me the good news while I was in Ireland for the Drift Masters final.
Exactly one year ago, I traveled to Siberia for my first semi-official Speedhunters assignment, and froze my gentle parts off at -40°F.
I may have a Russian name, but I was born and still live in Estonia, which is a small country on Europe’s eastern border with Russia. So I’m not exactly Russian, and English is my third spoken language, which I’m sure gives Brad a few headaches.
It seems that my unconditional love for cars existed from the day I was born, but I remember the day I fell in love with racing and photography. I was 14 years old, taking snaps of motorcyclists on my friend’s 4-megapixel camera. It was the tragic Estonian TT race of 2000, which took the life of the best road racer in the world – 26-time Isle of Man TT winner and Irish legend, Joey Dunlop.
However, my personal story with this race is different: It was my first introduction to speed, bravery and real racing. After that, I visited a bunch of drag and circuit racing events, asked my father to teach me to drive his old BMW E30, and started going to karting school.
Neither I, nor my family could support my wishful racing career, and to be honest, I wasn’t an extraordinarily fast driver, so it just remained as a hobby. Around 2008, I picked up my first DSLR camera – a simple but capable Canon EOS Rebel XTi ,or 400D as it was more commonly known in Europe – and soon found myself behind the safety barrier at almost every Estonian motorsport event.2019
Fast forward one decade and photography, my own blog, but mainly Speedhunters have introduced me to new friends, while opening many garage and media center doors.
After my first event for Speedhunters, I continued with the winter theme and found an enthusiast who didn’t mind bringing his Datsun Z out to a snowy forest. This was the first feature car I shot from my home region.
I knew I wanted to surprise the Speedhunters audience, and for that I needed to search for some special stories unique to my corner of the world.
Before the summer season properly started, I found myself in windy Belgium discovering the best hobby petrolheads of all ages can have – model cars.
Summer started with an array of events, and I attended car meets, shows and drift competitions all over Europe.
Paddy suggested that we all attend one event we hadn’t been to before, but I decided to tick a few off my list: Formula Offroad in Norway, the Raceism stance show in Poland, and European Top Fuel drag racing at Tierp Arena in Sweden.
The warm months passed really quickly, so in order to keep my Vitamin D levels up I returned to Italy and a beach race that put the biggest smile on my face.
The last two events of the season were wet, and really put me in the mood for wrapping things up as soon as possible so I could concentrate on the feature cars I shot during summer. These stories are now being carefully crafted, so expect to see them on the site soon.
I want to finish my 2019 review with a story that a fellow motorsport photographer in Italy told me. There’s a special club or level of coolness – call it as you like – for motorsport photographers who travel to 100 different circuits around the world. I’m currently sitting at around 30, but thanks to Speedhunters and all of you guys, I’m looking to have a go at that magic number and of course bring you along for the ride.
This year I’ve touched upon many topics, but it would be fair to say that I’ve only just scraped the surface. Here’s to the next decade of car and motorsport culture.