Intro: Sigurður Óli Gunnarsson
The next Icelandic local featured in this photo editorial from our journey through Iceland is Sigurður Óli Gunnarsson. As a former rally driver, he possesses an adventurous spirit that seems to channel the Viking blood of his ancestors. Kicked out of school at age 12, his journey led him into the world of off-road racing in Iceland’s stunning landscapes. Along this path, he accumulated unforgettable anecdotes, high-adrenaline adventures, and a knack for savoring life’s quieter moments.
Q: What’s one unforgettable anecdote from your rallying days?
A: I have forgotten it
Q: Whats your favourite scenic route when you feel like taking a drive through Iceland and why?
A: The westfjords, because we have the sea, the birds, seals, whales and mountains.
Q: What’s the most creative excuse you’ve given for a speeding ticket?
A: Have never gotten a ticket for speeding,…. they have never caught me, no joke, I actually have never gotten a speeding ticket, when you compete in Rally you have all your need for speed fulfilled while racing.
Q: If you could compare the adrenaline rush of rally driving to an everyday situation, what would it be and why?
A: Nothing, there is simply nothing in everyday life that comes close to the rush of rally driving.
Q: Iceland is known for its creative music scene. Were there any songs that you used to play before a race to get into the right mindset or that you connect with certain races? Do they still resonate with you today?
A: To get in the mood I don’t use music, I am just ready, already in THE GEAR.
Q: Rally driving is known for its split-second decision-making. Has that skill helped you navigate life outside the track?
A: Yes, generally when driving and in life, you just respond quicker, you’re more alert, and better prepared.
Q: As a former rally driver, you’ve experienced the thrill of speed. What’s something you’ve learned from racing that you apply to enjoying life’s slower moments?
A: Speed is dangerous and shit happens, be cool and calm.
Q: Iceland’s landscapes are diverse. If you had to match specific terrains to your moods, which landscapes would represent it best?
A: The sea, the sea when it is rough…
Q: Have you ever encountered any instances or heard where road construction plans were altered due to the presence of elf houses or rock formations associated with Huldufólk beliefs?
A: Yes, Álfhólsvegur in Kópavogur, and on Vesturlandsvegur, there is a turn because of a elf stone that is split in two, the elf couple had a bad break up and they split the stone and the road had to turn around it.
Q: In Icelandic folklore, it’s said that moving elf houses can lead to accidents. Have you come across any accounts of road accidents that locals attribute to disturbing elf habitats?
A: Yes I have, but now we make sure not to upset them.
Q: Icelandic landscape holds a rich tapestry of stories about the Huldufólk. Have you ever had conversations with fellow rally drivers about these beliefs and how they navigate through regions tied to these tales (whether it is a casual drive or a race)?
A: We don’t talk about the Huldufólk, that’s how it generally works. I have never seen elfs, but I know that they have seen me, I have felt it.