The place for respectful and reverent discussion of Reject drivers and teams, whether profiled or not as yet
by giraurd 24 Jul 2016, 19:45

HS is not a motorsport magazine, and I don't think the journalist is any kind of a sports journo, so the interview naturally focuses on the man himself rather than his racing career. But sometimes that approach makes a better read than just a bland review of his racing ventures!

I am his humble translator.

A Finn was an F1 driver, did questionable business in the Baltics and was convicted of planning drugs traffic

The son of a rich family became Finland's second F1 driver, chased down by Niki Lauda on the track. Then Mikko Kozarowitzky left motor racing, became a businessman and risked it all. Soon he was being chased by Interpol. Now he's telling his own life story.


Mikko Kozarowitzky has lived in the Central Europe for over 40 years. It's partly impacted his bank of swear words.



"Oh futz."

Using these profanities this 68-year-old Finnish Swede gives a zest to his story.

Kozarowitzky's life has not been drats but actually unbelievable and actually durn nice, but sometimes it's made him so futzed that he's wanted to die.

In total, ten Finns can be called Formula One drivers. Kozarowitzky is one of them. In order, he's the second, after Leo Kinnunen.

However, in his life F1 has been a mere chapter. He's been chased down by some great drivers, such as Keke Rosberg, James Hunt and Niki Lauda - but also by Interpol, looking to apprehend him.

He's sat in formula cars, in prisons and in negotiation tables with presidents. He's been petrified by the sound of assault rifles in an Estonian forest, he's lied down in a hospital having just been saved from death.

Lanaken is a small Belgian town, just nearby the Dutch border. Maastricht is a fifteen-minute drive away, to Bruxelles it's a bit more than an hour.

The house, located in a residential area, looks like a detached house, but there are actually three apartments there.

"Use the lift to get upstairs", Kozarowitzky instructs through the intercom. The lift doesn't get all the way up, it stops a couple of inchs short of the floor level.

"Not made Kone (a Finnish elevator company)", Kozarowitzky remarks, smiles and tells us to come in to his apartment. You can see a large terrace in the flat. Kozarowitzky's laptop and three cell phones are lined up on the living room table. 12 plastic tulips are in a vase.

There's a portrait of Ayrton Senna in the hallway, but nothing else reminds of Kozarowitzky's past as a racing driver.

Kozarowitzky has moved in from a larger place, and a lot of his belongings are left lying in a warehouse. The suntanned Kozarowitzky shrugs his shoulders in his apartment.

"Got nothing here. Not a thing. But I've got my freedom."


Also looking for their freedom were Kozarowitzky's Russian grandparents, arriving Finland in 1920 from St. Petersburg.

The grandfather had been a notable businessman, dealing with the trade between England and Russia. From Finland, he moved to Riga with his family. One day, in the Soviet times, someone knocked on grandfather's door, and that's the last he was heard of.

Mikko Kozarowitzky's father Nikolai settled to Finland later, married the actress Ellen Wåhlberg and ran his company Työterä.

Mikko grew up in the wealthy area of Munkkiniemi, Helsinki. Across the street lived the son of a coffee company family, Robert Paulig, whom Mikko calls his childhood friend.

Father Nikolai was one of the founders of "500 Club", specializing in touring racing. In 1956 Nikolai was testing his new Lotus on a public road to Tuusula, when he apparently had a heart attack and crashed into a car coming the other way.

7-year-old Mikko was watching the fateful test session in a family friend's car.

"I saw how my father burned into that Lotus", Mikko Kozarowitzky says. "I remember, for some reason, thinking that I won't be beaten up by dad now, although I only had been once. When I rode a sled under a car."

Kozarowitzky's mother married again. Mikko's stepfather, Jarl Hohenthal, was a wealthy man. He was part of organizing the merging of three companies into Nokia, which would later emerge into a cell phone giant.

Hohenthal, an administrative director at Nokia, was also the chairman of Finnish Tennis Association. Tennis was young Mikko's passion, as well. He won Finnish championships and represented the country in the 1966 Davis Cup.

Due to a scooter accident Kozarowitzky lost one centimeter of length from a leg, which led to him losing interest in tennis. He turned his verve to formula cars.

As a young man Kozarowitzky did everything the other way his parents would have wished - quit school, started taking evening classes and found a job in umbrella repairs.

"I wasn't very popular at home back then. Having a nice time is the most important thing. Unfortunately, I've always been boneheaded."


Understandably, motor racing was topping the list of banned things in the Kozarowitzky family, but in 1967 Mikko bought a racing car, a Veemax formula. He started racing using the pseudonym Matti Järvi, as he wanted to keep it secret from his family.

Kozarowitzky did well and went abroad to race. His name on the car read "Matthew Jarvi". In 1969, he won a Formula Vee race in Thruxton, England.

"I think I'm the first Finn to win a formula race in Central Europe or England."

Kozarowitzky became a professional in 1970, when he got a F3 car from Wihuri (yes, the same guy backing Bottas now) and a Swedish cosmetics company Pierre Robert started sponsoring the Finn. When Kozarowitzky raced from 1969 to 1977, he got a salary for his efforts, but it wasn't a job.

"A job! What durn job is racing? It's just a nice thing to do."

Durn nice, it certainly was.

In the early 1970's Kozarowitzky got to know James Hunt and Niki Lauda, among others.

During the Zeltweg race weekend, Hunt slept in Kozarowitzky's VW Kleinbus to keep cover from rain, and Lauda was collecting money in the pits to afford new tyres for Kozarowitzky.

"Niki was a cool guy. And really small. Like, durn small. When both of them were in Helsinki, Hunt was pushing Niki around in my sister's baby buggy. Stuff like that won't happen anymore."

Times were indeed different, and the legends of the sport still rather unknown to the public. At the time, Kozarowitzky got to know Ron Dennis, from whom he got a decoration tip: a mirror on the bedroom roof.

In 1973 Kozarowitzky lived in London and worked at exports. If there was a mirror on the roof of his London apartment, you could have seen romantic Formula One scenes through it.

"All the drivers were sleeping there on my floor, Gunnar Nilsson and Keke Rosberg and the others. Crud. There they were, sleeping cramped like tuna in a barrel, snoring when I had to get up and go to the workplace."

Gunnar Nilsson, a Swede, was from a wealthy family, too. He'd call his mother every morning to beg for more money.


Dreaming of a breakthrough, young drivers were sleeping around Europe in tents and vans, living from hand to mouth. Kozarowitzky's friends, family and aqcuintances had plenty of name and money, but in the pitlanes he'd crawl on like the guys next to him, waiting for the next sum of reward money.

To protect from darkness and cold, there was a candle in the night time in the drivers' car. For the breakfast, there was coffee and cigarettes.

A childhood friend Yrjö Palotie was accompanying Kozarowitzky, when his father died in the Lotus accident. Kozarowitzky was Palotie's bestman and best friend in the adventures of 1960's and 1970's. Kozarowitzky could join a nightly afterparty through a window. Palotie encapsulates the young Kozarowitzky: "Quite a scamp."

Gentlemanliness and family background were visible in Kozarowitzky's driving, though. He lacked the killer instinct, a quality that Keke Rosberg - born in 1948 too - had almost too much.

Both were aiming for a seat in Formula One and were fiercely battling for sponsors and race positions. It was Kozarowitzky, who made it to F1 first.

The tobacco company Marlboro's Finnish department got a seat for Kozarowitzky to race in 1977. He got to the Swedish GP with a March entered by the RAM team.

In the Anderstorp practice, James Hunt helped the Finn, driving an F1 car for the very first time, and gave him a tow for a couple of laps. "That's how it happened. Driving behind another car, you got better times."

Out of the 31 cars in the practise, only 24 made it to the race. The inexperienced Kozarowitzky was the slowest of the bunch and DNQ'd.


In the second race at Silverstone, everything looked promising, until the first lap of the first official practice session. It began well, and then Kozarowitzky span straight into a wall.

"My hand was smashed."

So was the car.

The next GP was in Holland. The team offered the same crashed-out car, but the Finn declined, as the bent chassis was lethally dangerous. That marked the end of a short F1 career, involving two attempts to qualify but no starts. Kozarowitzky lost the passion to drive, and he hasn't raced after.

It tells something about the F1 world that he still receives requests for signatures. Letters come all the way from Germany, Austria, France, England.

After the racing career Kozarowitzky worked as a tennis coach and held a small bar next to two tennis fields in Sittard, Holland. The apartment was only 3.5 meters of width, but Mikko and his dutch wife Jeanne were happy. The son Nikolai was born in 1978 and the daugher Alexandra two years later.

Now, summer 2016, Mikko Kozarowitzky discloses one of his parenting principles by the living room table.

"I've made plenty of mistakes, but I've always tried to teach my kids this sentence: Don’t risk what you have to get what you don’t need.”

Kozarowitzky is quiet for a bit.


"I risk everything. I've always done it, as sad as it is. I've fallen on my ass and gotten back up."

But it's not been boring?

"It's not."

"You know I've done time."

Time means prison time.

"When I look back at it, I realize how much I learned there."


Let's look back, into the year 1981. That's when Kozarowitzky got involved in business.

Kozarowitzky's company Koza Bv first imported welding machinery from Finland to Holland, then taximeters, then he expanded to working clothes and packaged oil.

In the early 1990's Kozarowitzky exported western cars from Holland to Russia. Someone had apparently told the police that the cars were stolen. The police were overseeing Kozarowitzky for a few months. Kozarowitzky and his vicinity had their phonecalls recorded. Even Interpol was involved.

The police struck Kozarowitzky's home. The teenage kids were shocked as their father was taken to the police station. Even in Finland there were headlines that a former F1 driver was accused of leading a group of car thieves. According to the police, cars stolen in Southern Holland were carried to Estonia to the local mafia.

Kozarowitzky affirms his innocence. "In total, I took 560 cars to Russia, but only four of them were stolen. Each of the cars had paperwork with my name written on it. Had I taken stolen cars to Russia, I would never have done it under my own name!"

In summer 1994, Kozarowitzky was sentenced for three years of prison in district court, but the Court of Appeals deemed him innocent.

His marriage, the kids' trust in father, and the relationship with his bank were, however, shattered, and his businesses took hits. First Kozarowitzky lost his motivation to work, and then he lost his wife. After the divorce in 1999, he started to do business with Russians again.

In the 1990's, the ways of business in Russia and the Baltic states were reminiscent of action movies, as Kozarowitzky was obtaining from Latvia and metal from Estonia. "I paid for the metal by cars. I gave a diesel Volvo and 20 000 bucks, and maybe even got an extra truck for making the deal."

Kozarowitzky was meeting the salesmen in Estonian woods, for instance. Those were tender moments, as you could gather from the uptight behaviour and the armature that the goods were stolen.

Once the tension erupted in a rapid-fire. Everybody except for Kozarowitzky and his business partner darted into the ground. As the fire from the Kalashnikovs ended, the Finnish duo, standing still, was looking at each other in disbelief.

"It was so unbelievable that I barely believe it, despite that I was there. My business partner said that James Bond has nothing on our journeys. It's a miracle I'm still alive."

Aside from trucks, aluminium and nickel, there were more metals available: weapons straight from the base. Kozarowitzky says that he declined.

Even crazier things were to happen.
Last edited by giraurd on 24 Jul 2016, 19:47, edited 1 time in total.

when you're dead people start listening
by giraurd 24 Jul 2016, 19:46

The son Nikolai began racing too, with the dad obviously helping him.

"Nikolai's German sponsor wasn't doing well. It was made known to me that the sponsor did drug trafficking, or at least wanted to", Kozarowitzky reveals about his affiliate. "I told him that it's your business, everybody lives their own life."

In 2001 the police arrested the sponsor, and soon Kozarowitzky, too.

Kozarowitzky's version of the events: Sponsor had once asked him to traffic drugs from Holland, but Kozarowitzky said no, because drugs, people and weapons are not commercial goods.

In the interrogations the Dutch police told Kozarowitzky that he's a prominent manufacturer and vendor of amphetamine.

"I told them that stop that in god's sake, do you have any evidence?"

According to Kozarowitzky, the only evidence was the word from the German sponsor. "He was crying in the German prison. And you get a shorter sentence in Germany if you give someone up."

He got three years of prison for drug trafficking in the district court. The sentence was appealed, and the case went to the Court of Appeals.

"You can get sentenced in Holland for planning drug trafficking. Because there was no evidence, they said that you were planning amphetamine sales. And they gave me three and a half years for planning drug trafficking."

Kozarowitzky insists that he was accused, because the police were still pissed about the 1990's car stealing investigation that didn't lead to a sentence.

"This is true, believe me. There's no justice."


The tribunal didn't agree, and Kozarowitzky ended up in prison. He was incarcerated in Dutch prisons for 28 months and describes the time as the best school of his life.

"You learned to know yourself, to be humble and to live with yourself. I was alone in tight discipline for 19 months. For too long."

His cell had a bed, a chair, a wc and a closet, a coffee maker and a TV. A former F1 driver and a businessman was making boxes as his job.

After the initial shock Kozarowitzky adjusted - and became institutionalized. Unlike the other prisoners, he stuck to prison food, prison clothing and only used the money he had earned in prison. When the guards arrived to wake him up, he had already shaven his bed, made his bed and a cup of tea.

Kozarowitzky's classmates were from famous ancestries, and many of them became very influental - managers and executive directors. Out of the bunch, Kozarowitzky got the most peculiar title.

"I was the inmates' gaffer. I was their foreman. I don't know even myself, how I got into that position."

Having served his time in the Maastricht and Sittard prisons Kozarowitzky was moved into an open prison, from where he got holidays during weekends. The first holiday was a surprising experience.

"There was space everywhere, more than what I had become used to. I wanted to get back to the prison, because it was so safe there."

After getting out of the prison Kozarowitzky got involved in the oil business. He sold oil from Venezuela to the United States, and says that he met the Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the future president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma.

Then happened something, that Kozarowitzky can't quite put into words.

It was autumn 2011. Kozarowitzky was negotiating with the Polish oil company Lotos, came home and digested a large amount of pills.

By chance, Kozarowitzky's good friend happened to visit and found the host, having just attempted a suicide.

Kozarowitzky woke up in a hospital.

"I was already gone. Had my friend not arrived, everything would have been over."

He stayed eight weeks in the hospital for treatments.

"I don't know myself how it happened. Your mind is a weird thing, it can go haywire in a moment", he says.

He got better thanks to good treatment. "When I got out, I told the kids that don't durn come here. I need time for myself."

After that Kozarowitzky quit his business and retired. The last couple of years have been quite cosy.


The son of a well-off family risked it all and lost a lot, including his reputation. However, he doesn't seem to regret the choices he's made.

"Only now I have learned to discuss about all this. What's happened has happened. I don't hold regrets, not a single one. Now, when I wake up in the morning, I say: ****, a day again.

Kozarowitzky is a charmant gentleman, but he's lived the last five years alone. Last he dated a Swiss lady. He lived in Switzerland for two years, played golf at the best club in Switzerland and traveled with his lady friend.

"Was a zingy bird, but she was married. Went to the Zürich airport and said auf wiedersen to her. Crud."

He takes care of his shape and eats porridge and lemon every morning. He's wearing an activity wristband, his eye lashes are beetled and his vision is sharper than ever, thanks to a surgery.

"Of course I sometimes wish I had a family around me. Now I walk out, close the door and tell the taxi to take me to Bruxelles. Nobody asks after me. I'm more than very satisfied."

It's still not easy being a single man. The hours when nobody is home and the lights are out are the hardest.

Luckily the relationship with the kids is alright. His son lives in New York and daughter in Holland. He has grandkids, too.

Kozarowitzky enjoys Lanaken, but is considering a move to the United States or Finland.

He now follows what's going on in Finland on the Internet. He doesn't recognize Matti and Teppo (famous singers from his own generation), but knows Cheek (a famous rapper, 40 years younger).

A possible return to Finland? Kozarowitzky lays the ground, saying:

"Finnish chicks are the best."

when you're dead people start listening
by dr-baker 24 Jul 2016, 20:01
That was a great read, thank you. And very well translated, it reads well.

watka wrote:I find it amusing that whilst you're one of the more openly Christian guys here, you are still first and foremost associated with an eye for the ladies!
dinizintheoven wrote:GOOD CHRISTIANS do not go to jail. EVERYONE ON FORMULA ONE REJECTS should be in jail.
by roblomas52 24 Jul 2016, 22:03
Really fascinating read, thank you for posting and translating it giraurd :)

Mexicola wrote:
shinji wrote:
Mexicola wrote: I'd rather listen to a dog lick its balls. Each to their own, I guess.

Does listening to a dog licking its balls get you excited?

That's between me and my internet service provider.
New blog, currently WIP!
by dinizintheoven 25 Jul 2016, 10:43
Things we didn't know about one of our 1970s rejects... looks like he could have ended up like Ricardo Londoño-Bridge if some of those business deals had gone the wrong way.

Incidentally, I have heard of Matti & Teppo, despite not being Finnish - but only because Ensiferum covered Näita Polkuja Talaan a few years ago.

James Allen, on his favourite F1 engine of all time:
"...the Life W12, I can't describe the noise to you, but imagine filling your dustbin with nuts and bolts, and then throwing it down the stairs, it was something akin to that!"

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