A Century In The Fast Lane
Publication date: 20 January 2008
The Royal Automobile Club of Norway marked a centenery of motoring and motor sport with some high profile events.
There weren't many cars in Oslo, the capital of Norway, when the Royal Automobile Club of Norway (KNA) was founded back in January 1907. Last year one of the oldest clubs in the FIA celebrated its centenary.
Some of the first motorists in Norway met many problems when they wanted to use their cars. The roads were built for horses, and there were no rules controlling the traffic. The real challenge was when the roads suddenly filled up with horses, people and bicycles as well as cars.
The first General Manager of the industrial company Norsk Hydro, Sam Eide, was among those who realised that the car owners had to organise themselves in a club. That was the start of the KNA, the club that became central to the development of a new era when cars became more and more important in transporting people and goods.
By 1908, the KNA had become a member of the FIA. In 1913, King Haakon of Norway became a member and the club gained Royal status. King Haakon came to Oslo from Copenhagen in 1905 and was confused by the situation on the roads in Oslo compared to the Danish Capital.
In 1912 the KNA organised the first-ever racing event for cars in Norway. The race was held on a frozen lake just outside Oslo. It was a disaster. Too many spectators came to the event so the race course was filled up with people. The cars simply couldn't race.
This was the start of the KNA. The club still holds the FIA sporting power in Norway, and is still a club for both sport and mobility. In 2007 the club organised a range of different events to celebrate the 100th anniversary.
Firstly the club was the host of a Gala Dinner in Oslo in January where King Harald V was one of the guests, alongside World Rally drivers Petter and Henning Solberg. Outside the hotel where the Gala Dinner was held, King Harald saw his old Peugeot 203 1955 model that he received as a present on his 18th birthday from the KNA. The president of the FIA Foundation, Rosario Alessi represented the FIA and the FIA Foundation at the Gala Dinner together with a total of 230 guests.
In February, the Norway Post service launched three new stamps, depicting some of Norway's best rally drivers and their cars. The motor sport stamps showed Petter Solberg, Henning Solberg and Thomas Schie in situations well known to them - speeding along snow-covered winter roads. This was the first time the Norway Post had ever make stamps with a motor sport theme and they were very popular.
Also during this month KNA played a major role when Norway was for the first time host for a round in the FIA World It all started at the local club KNA Kongsvinger where some of the members got the wild idea to work for a WRC round in KNA's 100 anniversary.
In May, KNA organised the "Day of the cars" in Oslo. It was both an exhibition outside the town-hall in Oslo and a historic rally with car models older than 1930. A lot of people came to the event and got information on the KNA.
During the year the club also published it's own history book, entitled "100 years with car pleasure". This book is not only the history of the club, but the history of the car in Norway.
Apart from all the events that have been organised from the central administration of KNA, there have also been a lot of events around Norway organised by local clubs. These include exhibitions, karting races, and rallies and so on.
And it is fitting that 2007 represented the first year in many that KNA has increased its membership.