Oleksandr Medvedchenko among scholarship recipients from Zelenskyy

Oleksandr Medvedchenko among scholarship recipients from Zelenskyy


Oleksandr Medvedchenko, one of the greatest drivers in Ukrainian history, received a two-year state scholarship from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on 22 December 2023.

Medvedchenko spent much of his career in the Soviet Formula Easter Championship; Formula Easter is an open-wheel spec for drivers living in the Eastern Bloc, who did not enter the standard global racing ladders due to the Cold War. The FIA never formally provided support to Formula Easter but otherwise acknowledged its existence. With no outside support, cars were exclusively built using parts from behind the Iron Curtain and Soviet-friendly COMECON (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance) members; Estonia, who had better access to the relevant technology, built many of the top Formula Easter cars including Medvedchenko’s.

He finished eleventh in his rookie season in 1976, then went on to claim five championships including four in a row from 1979 to 1982. He continued to be a regular until its dissolution alongside that of the Soviet Union in 1991, with his final championship run being a runner-up in the Formula 1600 standings.

Medvedchenko also raced in the Eastern Bloc’s Cup of Peace and Friendship‘s single-seater division, finishing third in the 1981 standings and runner-up in 1984.

In 1992, after the Soviet Union’s fall and his home country’s independence, Medvedchenko was recruited to race a KrAZ-5450 in the FIA European Truck Racing Championship. Beginning development in 1991, the truck did not resemble its production counterparts, a violation of series regulations; it used a two-stroke diesel engine from the Kharkiv-based Malyshev Factory, who specialised in building tanks, and was a two-axle model which was unheard of for the KrAZ line.

Medvedchenko drove the 5450 at the ERTC’s Nürburgring round, where it ran seventh in practice but coughed up black smoke that raised concern from other competitors. It continued nonetheless, but suffered a broken rear hub bearing during the first heat race and Medvedchenko was classified fourteenth. The truck, the only time a Ukrainian manufacturer entered the championship, never raced again and was eventually left abandoned before being discovered in 2019 and restored by its creator Vladimir Gavrilenko.

The Kyiv native has also dabbled in domestic rallies and the Ukrainian Circuit Racing Championship.

“We sincerely congratulate our colleague and wish him plenty of strength and effort in the promoting the development of physical culture and sports in Ukraine,” reads a statement from the Automobile Federation of Ukraine.

Since 2011, the President of Ukraine is able to award scholarships to those who have contributed greatly in fields like sports, science, and the arts. Medvedchenko was among twenty-four who got two-year scholarships in December while three others got them for life. These consist of stipends paid out each month for the duration of the scholarship.


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