Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Rally raid and war veteran Igor Kalinovskaya dies at 62

Igor Kalinovskaya, who took part in rally raids in his home country of Ukraine and was named a Master of Sport before taking up arms against Russian invasion, died Tuesday at the age of 62. His daughter Maria confirmed his passing on social media, while the Automobile Federation of Ukraine (FAU) disclosed it was due to a serious illness.

Maria wrote, “You didn’t ‘was’, you ‘are’! And you always will be! For me, the most important superhero! Dad… I can’t write many words right now, and all the words in the world won’t convey my feelings to you. I didn’t know if there was a limit to pain.. I guess now I know it.”

Kalinovskaya joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine in 2014 shortly after the Russo-Ukrainian War began with Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea. The conflict escalated in February 2022 with Russia launching a full-scale invasion that has drawn widespread condemnation, and ramifications have extended into the motorsport realm. Based in Dnipro, Kalinovskaya last served with the 93rd Mechanized Brigade.

Before the war, he had raced in the Ukraine Cup and won various domestic rallies. He was later named a Master of Sport, a title given to athletes for their contribution to sport in Ukraine; Viacheslav Ponomarenko, a fellow rally raider and Master of Sport, received the Hero of Ukraine for his service in the battle for Hostomel in March 2022.

“Almost from the first days of this war, which started back in 2014, Igor Vadimovich stood up for the defense of our country. Friends and relatives remember him as a courageous person and a good friend,” reads a statement from the FAU. “The Automobile Federation of Ukraine expresses its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Igor Vadimovich.”

His memorial service was held Thursday at the Sixth City Hospital in Dnipro.

As to be expected from a war for survival, many of the FAU’s members have served in the Ukrainian military especially following the full invasion. Mykhailo Kravchenko, a member of the FAU’s Karting Committee and whose daughter Maria represented Ukraine at the 2022 FIA Motorsport Games, was killed in action in June. Off-road racer Oleksandr Safronkov and autocross driver Timofiy Hontovoho are among those who have received medals for their military service, as did FAU Mini-Rally Committee deputy chairman Fedir Babinets for assisting emergency and military personnel. Ukrainian Minister of Defence Oleksii Reznikov is a Master of Sport and the 2013 Ukrainian Trophy Raid UTV champion.