Finland has a specific kind of reputation in motorsports. We have successful Formula 1 drivers such as Kimi Räikkönen, Mika Salo and Mika Häkkinen. Finland is also a home of great rally drivers like Marcus Grönholm, Tommi Mäkinen and Ari Vatanen.
What makes Finns so good at motorsports? I blame the narrow forest roads, the Finnish sisu and long distances at the countryside. Also challenging road conditions in winter surely play a role in this.
Many Finns get their driver’s license immediately when they turn 18. In the countryside, it is almost a necessity. You can’t get almost anywhere without a car or a ride from a friend or a family member. Therefore, besides a necessity, cars are a common hobby in the countryside. Young guys (and girls!) work on their cars in the family barns, tractor halls and so on. Even underage children might have an old car they drive around in the hay field or on the ice of frozen lakes and repair themselves or with help of parents, friends or older siblings.
In the cities, an own car isn’t such as necessity as it is in the countryside. However, it makes life easier in many ways: moving, shopping trips, road trips, and going all the way to the other side of the city are only a few examples. Many “city kids”, including myself, are also fascinated about the technique of engines and the idea of driving fast. The city just doesn’t offer as many possibilities to work on cars and drive them fast (legally) as the countryside. In the city centre it’s rare to have a garage, and even in the suburban area the garages are usually only big enough to drive the car in and out. Luckily garage space can be rented solely for the purpose of working on cars.
Whether you live in the city or in the countryside, cars and motorsports will always be (At least for some) a part of being a Finn.