Sottozero: GP Ice Race 2020

Somewhere over the Tannoy, Hans-Joachim Stuck is being interviewed.

With German as rostig as mine it’s difficult to make out the details, but even amid his accelerated chatter, one phrase rings clearly:

“Das ist Motorsport! Das ist cool!”

It’s impossible to disagree with the endlessly-enthusiastic star and organiser of the events which just unfolded, having just witnessed him showboat his March 761 F1 car around a circuit surfaced only in ice and snow, its modest traction provided by no fewer than six aggressively spiked bicycle tyres. The car is, of course, resplendent in its lurid Jägermeister livery, rubbing shoulders in the paddock with a brace of identically orange racers – Porsches 962, 914 and 935 (swoon).

Not far away are more Porsches – 919, 935/2.0, 930 Safari – and opposite those, BMWs M1, V12 LMR, E30 M3 – and then Audis Quattro S2, Formula E and A4 DTM. Guys are lining up behind some of them on skis. Taycans are everywhere. Make no mistake, this is a solidly Germanic event. But you didn’t come here to read about Porsches, did you?

It’s with some luck then, that this well supported, yet superbly light-hearted weekend, plays host to a handful of Italian interlopers – some from Milan, some from Turin. Most take part in the ‘Klassik’ grid; along with groups for slightly more competitive 2WD and 4WD cars, buggies and even sidecars (yikes!), they have two qualifying sessions per day, on a clear track – the fastest four going to a frenetic multi-car final each evening.

With the potential unfamiliarity of driving on studded tyres, it’s not easy to tell who’s showing off, and who’s finding the limits by surprise. The crowd doesn’t care however – any slide, no matter how elegant, results in loud cheering; Karl Kerschbaumer’s Alfasud raises the roof when he fishtails up the entire start straight. Not bad for a front driver, eh?

If Kerschbaumer’s cheeky ‘Sud is playing the knave, rather more Princely behaviour comes from Andreas Sommerauer and Michael Gross’ Giulias. The elegant saloons thread neatly around the circuit, although they would easily have caught Charlie Croker’s crew with the pace displayed.

But wait, there’s another Alfa here – and one more regal than all. None other than an 8C 2300 Monza takes to the track; to witness one at all is a treat, to see one overwhelm studded tyres around icy corners is quite the rare privilege. It sounds unlike anything else running, its guttural exhaust producing that characteristic straight eight buzz – like tearing fabric.

The 8C is part of a ‘show drives’ group, including other fantastically unsuitable metal such as a Nascar, the Audi DTM, and another 935 – although perhaps most fun of all, freestyle skier Benedikt Mayr carving about behind a Formula E car, can of Red Bull in hand (natürlich). If Skijöring, as a sport, started with unsaddled horses, it’s crazy to see it return behind the our latest evolution of that. The remainder of the Skijöring field prove, however, that it looks far nicer using classic cars.

Stuck is definitely right. It might not be motorsport as we know it, but it is definitely cool.


Author: Nick

Obsessed with all beautiful and sonorous vehicles, but particularly fascinated by portraying the stories, experiences and achievements which are the true beauty of our common obsession. An engineering background taught him how the machine works, yet it's taken photography to help explain what it really means to us. Be sure to follow Nick on instagram for his take on the UK (and European) auto scene @fiery_maelstrom

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