One of the most legendary road races in the world
The Imatra road races - also known as Imatranajo - carries a long and prestigious heritage. The first ever international TT race was organized already in 1962. After a fairly complicated turn of events, in 1964 The Motorclub Imatra (est. 1937) got the permission to organize the World Championship race in Imatra. This marked the first ever Imatra World Championship race, and so Imatranajo was born...
A unique atmosphere
Since getting the World Championship status, the crowds grew each year, reaching the peak (54 000 visitors) in 1973. Imatranajo soon gathered a reputation as one of the best organized races in the championship. All the great riders in the world raced in Imatra: Agostini, Read, Hailwood, Saarinen, Länsivuori, Taveri, Redman, Cecotto, Nieto, Sheene, Pasolini, Katayama, Lucchineli, Roberts, Mamola, Sarron and many others from over 40 nationalities. The biggest star of Imatra however was undoubtedly the 15-time world champion Giacomo Agostini, who won a total of 16 times in Imatra.
The greatest Finnish road racing star of all time, Jarno Saarinen rised to the highest podium in the 250cc class in 1972, and was crowned World Champion. To this date he is the only Finnish solo bike rider to hold a world title. Saarinen has left an unforgettable impression in the hearts and memories of the Finns, and a central part of those memories is his victory that day in Imatra, that secured the world title. 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of Jarno's title winning year.
The European Championship days
Imatra enjoyed it's World Championship status until 1982. After this year it was evident that the World Championship circus was heading towards purpose built tracks. The Imatra street circuit no longer met the demands of racing in that time and it was outdated. The racing however continued as part of the European Championship for the next four years. 1986 was the 25th annicersary race of Imatranajo, and to honour this Imatra was granted organizing the World Championship F1 TT race. At the same time Motorclub Imatra was trying to make plans for a purpose built circuit, but these plans were eventually turned down by locals and because of high costs of building the track. The memories stayed in peoples hearts, the unique atmosphere of Imatra had made an unforgettable impression.
The biggest road racing event in Nordic countries
It wasn't until 30 years later, in 2016 that real road racing made a return to the legendary street circuit as part of the International Road Racing Championship (IRRC). The event was long awaited and warmly welcomed back to the river Vuoksi. Real road racing had gained popularity in other parts of Europe as well as Ireland and UK, where real road racing was a big phenomenon. Since it's return, Imatranajo has been gathering roughly 50 000 visitors annually. 2022 marks the 60th anniversary event of Imatranajo!
Located in the center of the town, next to the river Vuoksi in picturesque scenery, the Imatra street circuit has been resurfaced and improved to hold a modern international motorsport event. It still carries the unique atmosphere and tradition it has always been known for, gathering visitors from all across the globe, the top Finnish national riders and international stars to race on the legendary Imatra street circuit. Imatra circuit was also added to the famous Ride 4 video game, which speaks of it's popularity.
Imatranajo reached an iconic status with it's sincere and warm spirit and a high quality in organizing the event, bringing the greatest riders to battle on the circuit year after year. Today, Imatra nurtures and preserves those traditions, re-creating the unique atmosphere and spirit it has always been known for!
A brief history
1962-1963 International race
1964-1982 World Championship race
1983-1985 European Championship race
1986 European Championship and World Championship F1 TT race
1990-2015 Imatranajo is organized as part of the Finnish national RR series on closed circuits
1999-2014 Imatranajo memorial races are organized a total of 7 times on the Imatra street circuit
2016- IRRC (International Road Racing Championship) race
Legends of Imatranajo
Matti Salonen, Seppo Näppi, Jukka Petäjä, Jouko Ryhänen, Taneli Lepo, Hannu Kuparinen, Mike Duff, S-O Gunnarsson, Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read, Mike Hailwood, Jim Redman, Luigi Taveri, Kent Andersson, Dave Simmonds, Hugh Andersson, Jack Ahearn, Stuart Graham, Heiz Rosner, Klaus Enders & Ralf Engelhardt
Jarno Saarinen, Teuvo Länsivuori, Pentti Korhonen, Martti Pesonen, Johnny Cecotto, Angel Nieto, Barry Sheene, Rodney Gould, Dieter Braun, Renzo Pasolini, Takazumi Katayama, Kork Ballington, Walter Villa, John Dodds, Gregg Hansford, Eugenio Lazzarini, Ricardo Tormo, Pier-Paolo Bianchi, Patric Hennen, Gianfranco Bonera, Julien van Zeebroeck, Otello Busherini, Michael Rougerie, Boet van Dulmen
Eero Hyvärinen, Johnny Wickström, Jussi Hautaniemi, Jari Suhonen, Esko Kuparinen, Marco Lucchinelli, Anton Mang, Joey Dunlop, Will Hartog, Kenny Roberts, Randy Mamola, Christian Sarron, Jean François Baldé, Ivan Palazzase, Pier Francesco Chili, Armando Errico, Stephene Mertens, Lorenzo Ghiselli, Rolf Biland & Kurt Waltisberg, Jock Taylor & Bengt Johansson
1990s (Imatranajo memorial races)
Giacomo Agostini, Phil Read, Jim Redman, Kork Ballington, Luigi Taveri, Pier Paolo Bianchi, Dieter Braun, Christian Sarron, Rodney Gould, Steve Baker, Marco Lucchinelli, Jon Ekerold, Mario Lega, Teuvo Länsivuori, Bruno Kneubuhler, Jean-François Baldé, Charles Mortimer, Gianfranco Bonera, Rolf Blatter, Roland Freymond, Patrick Plisson, Börje Jansson, Pentti Korhonen, Jos Schurgers, Heinz Rosner
Michael Rutter, Dan Kneen, Danny Webb, Davey Todd, Didier Grams, Martin Jessopp, Marek Červený, Sébastien Le Grelle, Vincent Lonbois, Joey den Besten, Erno Kostamo, Pauli Pekkanen, Dan Kruger, Horst Saiger, Matthieu Lagrive, Laurent Hoffmann, Juha Kallio, Pekka Päivärinta & Kirsi Kainulainen, Tim Reeves & Mark Wilkens, Estelle Leblond & Frank Claeys