No Smoke No Poke

#SidewaysFridays: Teemu Peltola of Black Smoke Racing

26th July 2013 | BY NSNP

Whilst we were out and about covering the British Drift Championship at Permbrey we had a sit down with Teemu Peltola; Owner, driver and part time karaoke singer at Black Smoke Racing. We were intrigued to find out how this soot slinging Fin came to find himself at the controls of one of the most recognisable drift machines ever campaigned.

Hit the jump for the full story…

Let us start by setting the scene way back in 2008, Teemu and a buddy were enjoying a couple of beers at one of Finland’s many tractor pulling events when the discussion turned to tuning (doesn’t it always?), both of them driving modified diesel Mercedes at the time. Naturally larger turbos and more fuel were the order of the day, until the conversation turned to drifting. Neither of them really knew what it was, except that “it was driving sideways“. After a few more beers that evening a plan was hatched with Teemu declaring “Maybe I can Drift!“.

Having owned his first Mercedes W123 at the age of 17 and living in an area rich in diesel specialists, the need for speed and the relative ease with which theses manually pumped engine could be tuned, meant that when the time came to build something really fast, a German oil burner was the most obvious option.

The first car, a Mercedes W190, was bought as a part built project with no powerplant or drivetrain. To give you an idea about how Teemu gets things done, it arrived at the workshop on Sunday and by Monday the engine and gearbox had been “just borrowed” from his 440Hp + 704Nm daily drive. On Thursday the finishing touches were added and the car was packed for it’s journey to Botniaring for it’s first weekend of drifting. Faced with a car he had never driven before and not much practise getting it sideways either, you wouldn’t have expected much from an entrant who’s knowledge of drifting was “I just knew they had to slide.”

It turns out those winters in Finland have an unforeseen side effect on the drivers that live there. All those people that just carry on with their lives travelling to and from work through the snow and ice happen to be learning some of the best lessons in controlling a car with no grip you could hope for.

Teemu finished 13th out of 20 at the Botniaring and when asked by the judges “Did you see the cones out on the course?” Teemu’s response was “Yes, but what are they for?” After a brief discussion about how he might score higher if he aimed to hit the clipping points with the car, the reply was simply, “OK, I can do that”. The  nuances of drifting were starting to sink in.

In 2009 the final race of that year’s championship didn’t turn out quite how they would have liked, with the then notorious brown diesel Merc being written off completely after a pretty serious crash in the finals. Leading the championship with 6 points, the only thing to do that evening was sit on the roof of the now banana shaped race car and drown his sorrows in beer with the rest of the team.

All was not lost though as Teemu was able to borrow his cousins petrol BMW and finish the weekends racing as well as securing the championship, all on their first competitive season.

2010 was the year that really threw BSR into lime light, with a new car, the much loved Mercedes W123, the team was beginning to grow a cult following online.

The diesel estate soon became one of the most talked about cars not just in the drift media but made it’s way into the mainstream with mentions on Top Gear and Auto

The mantra of the team was well summed up by Teemu when describing how the cars have evolved over the seasons: “We’d rather be out racing than in the workshop building.”  Perhaps a surprising statement when you consider how unconventional the Black Smoke cars have been

There’s no denying that whatever your views on how a drift machine should look and sound, the sheer innovation and man hours that have gone into every single nut and bolt of their car sets BSR apart from most drift teams on the planet.

The latest incarnation of fast Finnish engineering takes it’s form in the orange over black Mercedes W203, still sporting the OM606 engine and AMG 5 speed autobox combination from the previous versions. Having watched the current car being built step by step through the team’s frequent updates online, it’s apparent that this one is a quantum leap forward in terms of design, technology and construction.

Now that they guys have a little silverware on the mantelpiece and a growing list of sponsors eager to see car and driver succeed again, the new build had to be a more competition focused beast. ”We don’t have to worry so much about the inspections now… the old car was never built to win.” One of the many reasons we’re expecting big things from this new machine, a new estate that has been put together with the sole purpose of winning.

Judging from the performances we have seen so far, in a car that is still being dialled in, the odds of another championship could well be within the sights of our Finnish friends. It is obvious that everyone involved is not interested in half measures, all or nothing is how this group of mates work.

We had an absolute blast with all of the guys from BSR, hanging out under the awnings of their very  custom big green tour bus/garage.

Much thanks to everyone on the team for their hospitality and for showing us just what can be done with enough determination and an old german oil burner! A weekend spent hanging out, eating pizza, talking diesels and racing cars is hard to beat!

Peace out,


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