NAIROBI, Kenya, May 29 – While going through the list of 58 entries for the WRC Safari Rally, one could easily browse past polish driver Sobieslaw Zasada.
What many might not know is that this 91-year-old former Rally driver is one of the most decorated and experienced rally driver in the list.
Zasada is the founder and main shareholder of Polish company Zasada Group. Born on 27 January 1930, he shot to fame as an international rally driver in the 1960s and ‘70s.
From a very early age, he engaged in sports as a member of the scouting sports team between 1945-1948. In 1946 he won the scouting athletics championship in Kraków. He joined the Polish national athletics team in 1949-1952.
Zasada’s athletic career came to a grinding halt in 1953 after he suffered an open fracture to his right leg while skiing in Zakopane in Poland. His leg was to be amputated but he opted to try save it and spent two years in rehab recovering.
In 1957, he opened a garage in Kraków, servicing all car brands with modern diagnostic equipment. As “a man from behind the Iron Curtain”, an area where motoring and the car market practically didn’t exist at the time, Zasada became the only driver from a communist state to represent top rally car manufacturers, such as Steyr Puch, Porsche, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Zasada went on to grow into one of Poland’s most decorated driver and sportsman winning the Order of Polonia Restituta for his contribution to Polish Sports.
The list of podium finishes and awards he has achieved is too long to list. According to the official Zasada website, his greatest accolades come from his three European Rally
European rally championships, as well as three second-place finishes.
Zasada went on to win his championships in competition against top sportsmen from teams including Alfa Romeo, BMW, Mercedes and Porsche.
The Zasada official website goes on to list some of his key achievements as
– 11 times Polish rally driving champion,
– winner of 148 rallies,
– five-time gold medalist for outstanding sporting achievement.
Zasada has participated in the world’s most prestigious rallies, including:
London-Sydney, London-Mexico, Vuelta America del Sur, Gran Premio Argentino, Safari, Press on Regardless, Monte Carlo, the Alpine Cup, Acropolis, Thousand Lakes, Rally Sweden and Rally of Great Britain.
Zasada is seeded 27th on the WRC Safari Rally entry list and he will be driving the M-Sport Ford Fiesta RC3.