PEOPLE: KARI SOHLBERG

Name: Kari Sohlberg
Nationality: Finland

The president of Finland's national automobile club - Autourheilun Kansallinen Keskusliitto - is Kari Sohlberg. He is not only a member of the FIA World Motor Sport Council but also a regular steward at Grand Prix races.

Sohlberg's interest in motor racing dates back to the 1960s but after his military service Sohlberg went into the steel industry and worked in Germany before returning to Finland to run work for the GWS metal packaging company. He is now chairman and chief executive of that company and is on the board of directors of a number of important Finnish companies including Sampo insurance, the Union Bank of Finland and the Association of Finnish Metal and Electrical Industries.

A keen motor sports enthusiast Sohlberg began to run kart racing teams in Finland and his Blue Rose Racing operation enjoyed considerable success which enabled him to be elected head of the Finnish federation in 1982, the year Keke Rosberg became the first Finn to win the F1 World Championship.

Blue Rose Racing would later run Mika Hakkinen with great success. Hakkinen became a Sohlberg protege and Mika's best friend is Kari's son Mika. The pair both owned Volkswagen Beetles and, as kids, raced one another on the frozen lakes on Finland. It was obviously good training as Hakkinen went on to become a F1 racer and Mika Sohlberg became a top rally driver.

Sohlberg did not rise to international prominence until he became one of Max Mosley's band of supporters against FISA President Jean-Marie Balestre in 1991. Two years later, when Mosley was elected FIA President, Sohlberg became one of the new young members of the World Motor Sports Council.

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