Goodwood with snow: inside the Porsche bullshit GP ice racing

GP Ice Race Volvo P 1800 - tracking side

"Basically, it's just an excuse to put together some amazing cars for the Motorsports trails party"

From skiers towed by Mitsubishi Lancers to Formula E autos bombarding ice round banks - welcome to one of motorsport's crazy (and colder) races.

The sight of a virtually silent electric Formula E car on the move is no longer a novelty, but watching Daniel Abt's Audi e-tron FE06 in action was certainly surreal about it.

For one, the singles are not on a race track, but in a snowdrift lined field on a frozen airfield. And it was equipped with studded tires on ice. Oh, and there was a cable lagging behind his diffuser, at the end of which the skier hangs on as best he could. And yet, probably not the strangest sight to be found in the vicinity of that icy path.

Try the 2012 Dakar-win mini All4 races by gliding on ice. Or a Porsche Taycan lapping the chain at the same time as a historic Porsche 911 with, for reasons still unclear, a surfboard on top of a cabinet. A slightly modified Bentley Continental gt practicing donuts. And Hans-Joachim stuck reunited with the chassis in which he made his big Grand Prix debut, which is now equipped with six - yes, six - studded tires.

Welcome to the crazy world of GP ice racing. You may not have heard of it yet, but after only two years, it looks like it will develop into a showcase event on the motorsport calendar: the Alpine Festival of Speed, perhaps.

Like Goodwood, the GP Ice Race is built on a long motorsport tradition. It centered on the strange discipline of skijoring, in which skiers are towed by cars. The first skijoring event in Zell am See, Austria took place in 1937 on a frozen lake, with skiers towed by bicycles. The first Doctor Porsche Memorial skijoring race took place in 1952 before standard car racing was added the following year. It became an annual tradition, although he moved from the lake to the city's airfield in 1969 after several weather-related cancellations. But after the 1974 launch was canceled at the end of notice, it fell off the calendar.

The revived event is timed for trails, racing, and, brilliantly, skijoring – but it's mostly just an excuse to put together an amazing collection of historic and modern cars for slippy, party motorsport tracks.

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GP Ice Racing even has its own Duke of Richmond equivalent: co-organizer Ferdinand Porsche, great-grandson of that of Ferdinand Porsche. He says he decided to bring the event “back from obscurity” in order to meet the growing demand for historical events and because “motorsport belongs to Zell am See”.

While Goodwood is now a slippery and organized event on a massive scale, much less often GP ice racing teeters just on the right side of the abyss between anarchic fun and chaos (example: the press center was located in the exhibition hall, bathroom).

With temperatures relatively high, the organizers faced a battle to keep the course of the ice (slightly dull, short and triangular) from becoming cut upwards and melting into a puddle of slush. What resulted in some schedule shuffling, making the already anarchic event downright confusing.

But this disadvantage is well compensated by the incredible current machines, whether racing, doing runs or on static display. Modern equipment included Mitsubishi Lancers, Skoda Fabia R5s and Subaru Imprezas, while mouth-watering historic fields included numerous 911s and Volkswagen beetles, knowledge of Saab 96s, some gorgeous classic Volvos and countless incredible Group B Audi Quattros. As well as giving Stig Blomkvist a run in his Formula E car, Audi reunited him with the Quattro C1 and commissioned triple Le Mans winner Benoit Treluye, trailered by 1987 world slalom champion Frank Wörndl for a 1955 DKW f91 with skijoring hats.

Volkswagen has given a glimpse into the future with the Golf ER1, a test mule for the ID R slopes racer now repurposed as an electric showcase. But he also ran a couple of distinctive Beetles: the classic 1302 S and the Tanner Faust mighty rallycross machine. Faust said “it was fun tearing up the icy track”, but that the coolest time of the event was for his stuck meeting.

And that sums up the GP ice racing. It was far from perfect: short, narrow lanes for cars and limited visibility for about 20 spectators, and it was hard to see what was going on at times. But this is subject to truly unique sights. Where else do you see a stuck-pedal Formula 000 car equipped with six studded wheels, or a Nascar stock car on ice, or a classic Chevrolet Corvette sliding on a frozen airfield? Surreal? Really. And so brilliant.

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When rallying meets skiing

Skijoring might just be the best motorcycling you've ever seen, beautiful and surreal in equal measure. Skiers are towed around the course by car (or horses, dogs, or snowmobiles); the fastest time wins, and a lot with it.

Professional skier Dominique Hartmann was towed by Jägermeister—a friend of Dominique Rickauer's 1977 911. “Physically tough,” says Hartmann. “You need a lot of muscle in your hand just to hold the rope.” The key, he tells us, is to ensure that both skier and rider know how they will tackle each bend.

While the rider sets the pace, the skier controls the distance between the two by adjusting the slack in the tow cable. “You have to know what they are going to do,” Hartman added. “In order to take down speed through a bend, a rally car wants to drift, and the skier needs to get in at every corner to ensure smooth lines.”

Ice weirdness

March-Cosworth 761/5: Hans-Joachim stuck to the chassis used in March for F1's debut in 1974. It has been rebuilt several times in various specifications including the 2-4-0 six-wheel concept, but is now rebuilt in 1976-spec 761/5. To give stuck extra grip, four studded tires were fitted to the rear axle.

Special colors: British Porsche and Volkswagen dealer David Small began building this car in 1958 using parts and an aluminum aircraft body. After sitting in a garage for half a century, now-owner Steve Wright has completed it over the past decade. It's as yet to hit 500 miles.

Porsche Type 64: based on the Volkswagen type Beetle 60, the Type 64 was the first car designed by Ferdinand Porsche in the 1939 Berlin-Rome race. When the only surviving original was restored ten years ago, restorer Mikhail Barbach simultaneously created this replica.


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