Hungary's 1981 racing documentary, titled "Autóversenyzők" (i.e. "Race Car Drivers") is somewhat of a cult flick among motoring enthusiasts for more than one reason: it has proper racing and rallying footage from an era where there weren't cameras lying around by the hundreds to cover an event, but mostly because it features cars that are getting even rarer each day passing - even in countries of the ex-Eastern Block - that make one part of ex-Westerners go yawning, the rest of them glued to their screens. The movie is - of course - in Hungarian, but I will give you some description to all the commentary that is provided by either the narrator or the racers themselves. Okay, buckle up, nine-piece playlist.
pt 1: Airborne Ladas, some Porsche showing up, rapid pace notes, a Renult 5, a Renault R17 Gordini, post-disco rock music. Then we go and meet some actual F1 drivers, including Niki Lauda, Clay Regazzoni and Gilles Villeneuve. They speak some general words about the dangers of racing. Regazzoni is handed by a wheelchair, supporting two F1 tyres. He speaks about the joys of the "good old days" and how professional the sport has become. Then he rides off on a motorcycle.
pt 2: Meet Gilles Villeneuve, who is apparently fond of driving and drops "I know the danger is there and I can hurt myself today or tomorrow, it's all part of it. I mean, who knows? I live knowing that one day I can have a very serious accident and I can spend up to two months in a hospital with broken bones. But the bones heal and once they do, you can carry on." (1979). Then we cut to Hungary and get a brief walkthrough of Hungary's motor sport history (including more than one inaccuracies). THEN: 5-ton ZIL hauler truck rallycross race. No joke. The the narrator explicitly drops: "There is no more spectacular motor sport on Earth than rallying". Cue the Lada-fest. A rally driver talks about how simple it is to pick up rallying: "A few guys get together, put their money together, buy a crashed car, fix it up in six months." etc. etc. Ladas in opposite lock. Then we cut to some spectacular Lada touring car racing, made up of closed public roads in Austria. Driver talks about racing in a pack and the differences between factory drivers and privateers.
pt 3: Continuing the touring car race. Driver talking about the good start. Fabulous wide-lens in-car footage. "In one corner I spotted a lady in a white dress. That was my braking point for the corner. The trouble was when the lady moved closer to the corner entry in lap 8. I flew off and crashed." Staged rolling over. Meet the Formula Eastern category: formula cars with Lada engines. Then we move to hill climbing and get to see formula and sportscars with and "shark" BMWs taming the mountain.
pt 4&5: Driver expressing gratitude towards the fans and the extra positive pressure it gives. On-board sportscar racing footage. Donuts in the service park. Meet the servicemen and the engineers. More on-board BMW footage up the hill. "These cars behave on completely dry tarmac as street cars in the wet." Three-time European Hill Climb Champion talks about his fondness in racing in Hungary. Lists a bunch of F1 drivers he raced against in the past. Watch an NSU, too, and a Renault Alpine. Beautiful on-boards and then we head to rallying. "There are no two single identical moments in rallying. You just don't know what's ahead. Not even in track racing, but in rallying..." Description of pace notes "The lightest corner is a zero, which is just a kink, the sharpest is a 6." Recce, trial runs and racing. Ladas, Wartburgs, Skodas. And Attila Ferjánc's Renult 5 Gordini (most successful rally driver in Hungarian motor sport history, multiple champion, the first guy who got factory backing from a Western car manufacturer). Racing in the dirt.
pt 6: Renault R17 Gordini picking up a puncture on a close-up, tyre is shredding to pieces. Fans around camp fires in the dark. The beauty of the night. Co-drivers' accounts of their fearless drivers, calling the pace notes as "The Prayer Book". Whenever the co-driver sees the crash coming, closes the "prayer book". Lots of experts gathering around the "Bride Corner", murmuring "That's too much" whenever a car gets through, waving all around and eventually crashing out.
pt 7: My home town hero drives on a spectacular forest stage in a cheap leather jacket on an on-board shot. Co-driver talks about how he likes racing with his driver because he never loses his temper "The first time we raced, we flew off in a corner at about 150 [kph], but he never got off the throttle and brought the car back on the road flat out. If he panicked, he would have never been able to bring it back like that. At the end of the stage I told him I would never race with him again. He said 'You must be kidding, I always drive like this'." We cut to Attila Ferjánc and we learn his among the top 10 rally drivers in Europe. His co-driver talks about the procedure of rallying. Lousy sweatshirts and crashing out.
pt 8: Ferjánc co-driver, Dr. Tandari, and avid beard-grower and pipe smoker. We head to car inspection. Nothing interesting said, just footage of night rallying. Morning service park: car jacked up on a tyre, drivers sleeping in their cars. Cigarettes. Talking about the privileges of factory-backing and how they got "enemies" as such.
pt 9: Rallying in the mud and the race is over. Competitors get around the fire to tell their stories. Stories include: trying to pass a Bulgarian on the stage, him not leaving space for the driver, getting on the wrong side of the road and flying off in the corner. Then: driving up the Transfagarasan region in Romania, a bear attacked the car, licking all the windows. Then: "I was driving to the stage when we met the local bus: mountainside on the right, chasm on the left, bus in the middle. I chose the mountainside. I did a complete rollover right in front of the bus, the driver and 30 children were just glued to the window. Two Soviet guys fixed the car up in the service park. Then on the stage we realized one of the wheels was wobbly. We got out of the car, fixed the wheel, my co-driver opened up his pace notes and said 'I have no idea where we are'. We crashed out on a bridge so hard, two trucks had to pull us off the barrier." We end the film with more opposite locks.
This post also appeared on Oppositelock.