[b]Family of kart racers lives in Minsk, at Formula-1 speed[/b]Kart racing appeared in the USA in the late 1950s, with drivers taking the wheel of smaller-sized motorcars. Back in 1965, Anatoly Shimakovsky of Minsk finished among the top drivers at the kart racing mini-Olympics for Eastern European states, hosted by Estonian Tallinn. Several times, he was the champion of Belarus and of the Soviet Union. If the Soviet team had taken part in world competitions, he might have won there as well. Most Formula-1 racers, like Michael Schumacher, Mika Hдkkinen and Fernando Alonso, began their career in kart racing. Schumacher is now again in love with the sport of his youth — being the co-owner of a professional kart racing team.
Kart racing appeared in the USA in the late 1950s, with drivers taking the wheel of smaller-sized motorcars. Back in 1965, Anatoly Shimakovsky of Minsk finished among the top drivers at the kart racing mini-Olympics for Eastern European states, hosted by Estonian Tallinn. Several times, he was the champion of Belarus and of the Soviet Union. If the Soviet team had taken part in world competitions, he might have won there as well. Most Formula-1 racers, like Michael Schumacher, Mika Hдkkinen and Fernando Alonso, began their career in kart racing. Schumacher is now again in love with the sport of his youth — being the co-owner of a professional kart racing team.
Kart racing yields money and fame and Anatoly Shimakovsky has built a family dynasty on the sport. Leon Shimakovsky, Anatoly’s father, was once a young chairman of a collective farm near Polotsk. He moved to Moscow in 1938, taking a job at ZIL automobile works. During the Great Patriotic War, he built trucks and tanks. In 1948, the experienced engineer returned to his historical motherland — to Minsk Automobile Works. There, he remained and his son, Anatoly, followed in his father’s footsteps at the age of 16, working at MAZ.
“Crucially, I was assigned to the design studio,” Anatoly explains. It was a milestone in his life. “The best engineers in the company were sent there. Many later become famous sportsmen and USSR champions; everybody was keen on sports. I tried boxing and tennis, but motorsports were my real love. During the day, at the design studio, we’d do regular work designing cars for the assembly line. In the evenings and at night, we’d assemble our own vehicles, following our own designs. This was the early 1960s, when kart racing was fashionable. My friends helped me to assemble my own kart, which I raced in Tallinn in 1965.”
Gasoline in the blood
“My passion for cars? Perhaps, it’s in my genes,” smiles Anatoly. “I may have been born with gasoline in my blood. This is why my son has followed in my footsteps.”
Devotion to motoring seems to be an inherited feature. Anatoly’s son, also Anatoly, was just 8 years old when he first drove the Fiat imported by his father from Poland, back in the 1980s. The minimum age for kart racing was 10 but this calm little boy took to driving round Borovaya motordrome, near Minsk, from an early age. Grandson Yegor, also now 8, is another car enthusiast. He’d choose to play in grandpa’s studio over any fancy toy. Perhaps he’ll design cars one day. It does seem that motoring is in this family’s genes.
“You should feel the car in every detail, including hearing its ‘voice’,” Anatoly Junior knows how to approach his machines. No one would doubt such insight is in his blood. “Should there be a problem with the engine or with the suspension, I feel it subtly. I can’t even say how, I just hear it. Perhaps, this is why my car has only had problems once or twice; others have dozens of problems.”
Anatoly Senior believes his knowledge of music has been useful; all his kart racing friends also have a good ear. “We could create a full orchestra: there are trumpet, piano and violin players among us,” boasts the racer.
One for all and all for one
Motorsports are, naturally, thrilling, but how do you also find time for family?
“We do devote a lot of time to our cars,” confesses Anatoly Senior. “I’m also coaching Yegor, while my son is shifting from karting to rallying. It makes sense to pursuit sporting interests, since they make you a ‘real’ man. My wife, Lyudmila, would surely agree; we married just ten days after we met! She’s never tried to change me or impose a new lifestyle on me. Rather, she accompanies me to competitions and helps with everything. I’ve also tried to raise my daughter to love motorsports, but she’s chosen to become a lawyer. As soon as her son was born, I pinned all my hopes on Yegor. It was the right decision. I don’t believe in pushing my children to follow my own passions. There’s no need. We’re a unified family and will always find a common language!”
Anatoly Junior, despite being a multiple karting champion of Belarus, devotes more time to the family business these days, alongside his parents. Only Yegor is yet to decide his future priorities. He could continue the racing tradition or become a football player or, even, a banker — he wants to try everything. If you saw the Shimakovsky ‘clan’ on the street, there would be nothing to distinguish them; they look just like the rest of us. However, they are far from average and may have more surprises in store for us yet. Their ambitions continue and new victories no doubt lie ahead — not only in the sphere of sport. Seeing the passion in Yegor’s eyes, you can’t help thinking that this family has more to show us.
By Viktar Korbut
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