Russian Time Magazine

Formula X Autocross: Getting Dirty In California

“You drive sports cars on track, yes?”

Igor Palagin, a giant bear of a man who looks more of a member of the Red Octo the driver’s seat of his Fast & Speed USA dirt buggy.

“Yes, I do,” I reply somewhat nervously.

Igor laughs a hearty, booming laugh. “Forget everything you know about driving. This is completely different.”

As I struggle to myself: No kidding, Igor.

Igor and his business partner, Robert Myers, have worked tirelessly tocross. Igor is a champion Rallycross driver who has won races all across The Continent, and he’s also a brilliant businessman with a successful construction company.
But on this cool, windy Northern California day, he’s serving as my motivational speaker as I attempt to drive off-road for the first time in my life. “There’s a jump on the back straightaway. I don’t recommend that you jump it your first time out.”

“Don’t worry,” I laugh. “I won’t be doing any jumping.”

And I don’t. Well, not until the second lap.

Everything about driving the Fast & Speed USA buggy is exhilarating. The sounds are preposterous, thanks to look past it through the ridiculous elevation changes in front of me.

And Palagin is right. Nothing I know about driving on a track seems to change ever so slightly with every lap.

“You need to the turn, and then let the back end come out and pull you through.”

As I’ve been running the entire course in fourth gear, as I normally advise road course rookies to hit it at full speed.”

But who wants to check out.

“This one tends to drive, but once you get it right, it’s amazing.” He’s right — on both counts.

But it’s a revelation when you get it right. The flickability and nimbleness of the Kart requires nearly constant hand movement, steering and correcting, steering and correcting again as you keep your foot down in each corner. It’s not dissimilar to hit — just you and God’s green earth.

In short, it’s a workout, yes, but it’s like doing P90X — it kicks your ass, but the results are worth it.

“There’s a slight learning curve but not as much as one might think. Road racers need to watch you on course,” says Madsen.

As I extract my body slowly and carefully from the kart, sore nearly everywhere, I ask Myers what is his vision is for this program. Is it an arrive-and-drive? Is it private ownership? Is it a time trial? Is it a race?

His eyes gleam as he grins. “Yes,” he answers. “All of that.” Anything from one buggy or kart on track at a time to try it, as soon as possible.

“So, are you hooked?” asks Igor as we pack up for the day. The grin on my face says it all — yes, I’m hooked. I’ll be back as soon as I can.

To find out how you can experience this for yourself, either in Northern or Southern California, go touch with Igor and Robert.