Mr Kivimäki, suitably mad
One car, two wheels, over 186 km/h! The hardened professional stunt driver Vesa Kivimäki, from Härmä, took his car to new world record speeds on two wheels. He appears happy yet surprisingly calm and collected after his world record run on Seinäjoki Airport at the end of August.
Kivimäki has been dreaming of breaking the world record for the fastest car on two wheels for a long time.
– I started driving on two wheels 15 years ago already, and I have performed in numerous stunt shows in Finland and abroad. The speeds were never like this, however. Nevertheless, my dream has been to be the world’s fastest at driving on two wheels, Kivimäki explains.
"Nevertheless, my dream has been to be the world’s fastest at driving on two wheels."
And now he is.
– I knew that Nokian Tyres had the world record for the fastest car on ice from 2013. When I noticed that they had developed the Aramid Sidewall technology to improve tire durability, I wanted to try to break the record in cooperation with Nokian Tyres, Kivimäki says.
From farm stunts to professional driving
You could call Kivimäki an experienced driver: he was already driving at the age of 6, and at 12 years old, he managed to tip his father’s car over by attempting to drive on two wheels. Kivimäki started farm racing with his friends when he was 14–15 years old. At that time, he was already a stunt driver – he could drive on two wheels, for example. The other boys could use their farm racing cars for a long time, but Kivimäki often broke his in one go.
– The legendary TV show “Knight Rider” and its tricks inspired me when I was little, he recalls.
Once Kivimäki got his driving licence, he started rally racing in the Finnish Championship series. This went on for about five years before he decided to concentrate on stunt driving. At the turn of the millennium, the 23-year-old virtuoso was already driving buses on two wheels, so he set up a small business and started stunt driving for a living. The Crazy Drivers team was set up in 2001 and it celebrates its 15th birthday this year.
When we asked Kivimäki about the characteristics of a good stunt driver, the answer was clear.
– Above all, you need to be calm. Stunt drivers must never rush into things; instead, they must always act calmly, Kivimäki emphasises.
Before each run, Kivimäki carefully reviews the stages of the performance and focuses on going over the correct sequence. That is all he thinks about before proceeding – and this is how it should be.
– If you start daydreaming and thinking of other things before a stunt, the risk of failure is very high, Kivimäki says.
He has no fear during or before a stunt.
– Once you start fearing, it is better to get out of the industry.
"Once you start fearing, it is better to get out of the industry."
Always a record-breaker
Kivimäki has made world record attempts before. In 2003, he tried to break the world record for long jump in a car. At that time, the world record of 73 metres was not broken, as the engine on Kivimäki’s car broke down moments before the ramp. Despite the technical failure, the car flew for a respectable 57 metres.
The next year, he attempted to break the world record for car dominos by toppling over 12 upright, burning cars with another car. Engine trouble prevented this record as well, but he did manage to topple seven cars.
– I could have used Vianor’s pit stop at that time, Kivimäki laughs.
His future ambitions are not modest, either. The new achievement only seems to have made him hungrier for more.
– I believe that I can reach a speed of 200 km/h (124 mph) on two wheels. I would also like to drive a semi-trailer truck off a ramp in the way I drove this BMW.
The stunt veteran is grateful to Nokian Tyres’ product development and Vianor’s expert pit crew for fulfilling his lifelong dream.
– Combining crazy and brave seems to be a winning mixture. And what’s more, we were able to snatch the record from a Swede, Kivimäki says with a grin on his face.
"Combining crazy and brave seems to be a winning mixture."