My hero: Krasznai by Kiss
Two-time FIA European Truck Racing Championship title-winner Norbert Kiss is arguably one of Hungary’s all-time most successful racing drivers. But there was one man who nearly three decades ago inspired young Kiss to pursue a dream of becoming a racing driver himself. That man was his late compatriot János Krasznai.
Krasznai, just like Kiss today, raced a truck sporting a three-pointed star in the European Championships. However back in those days truck racing scene was an entirely different world.
“Back in the ‘80s trucks used to work on the road during week days and then on the weekends they arrived at a circuit, detached trailers and raced,” recalls Kiss.
It was also around that time when trucks started to be developed specifically for racing purposes. And with that came manufacturers’ involvement. “Janos was chosen by Mercedes-Benz. He was a factory-supported driver,” says Kiss.
Krasznai’s best results, third overall, came in 1989. His achievements on the international stage electrified the entire nation.
“Race weekends back in the ‘80s were huge. Obviously, there were not that many news channels and there was no internet. It was easier to get to people through national television and there was a huge amount of people, almost 200,000 at the Hungaroring at these races,” says Team Tankpool24 Racing driver, Kiss.
Almost thirty years on, Krasznai is still remembered and respected by many in his native Hungary. “He was quite famous. Even now a lot of people still remember him. He was one of the first motorsport heroes of Hungary, before myself and Norbi Michelisz,” explains Kiss.
Years later when Kiss was a successful driver himself, he had a pleasure of getting to know his boyhood idol.
“Two years ago he was at the Hungaroring with us, when the FIA ETRC came back to Hungary. He was out there on the podium, presenting the trophies. It was really nice to get to know him because I heard all the stories and legends that happened back in the day. Hearing all of that from him and having him there watching me racing and becoming European champion was really nice,” concludes the Hungarian.
Krasznai kept a keen interest in truck racing right up to his death in November 2015. His memory was honored during last year's round of the FIA ETRC at the Hungaroring with a special award presented to a driver who set the fastest lap from Saturday and Sunday's races. The award was presented by Krasznai's widow Marta Szabo.
Photo courtesy of Zsolt Barcza