This was my first time participating as a media representative in this event. Last year, my accreditation was rejected; then I received a ticket as a gift from a friend, but the event was cancelled due to a lack of snow (global warming?). Nonetheless, I went and found some new friends whom I’ve been keeping up with ever since… Anyway, we should be talking about this year’s event, right?
The event itself took place on an airfield next to Zell Am See, Austria. Its roots go far back in time. It has had its ups and downs, but thanks to the Porsche family, it’s been revitalised. It presented an excellent opportunity for car enthusiasts around the globe to enjoy classic and new cars competing on ice, or to watch Skijöring (skiing while being pulled by a car). As you would expect from something backed by the Porsche family, you can always count on some exotics either being exhibited or ‘thrashed’ around the track. This year was no exception. Although temperatures were high (compared to what’s needed for snow and ice), Ferdi and the FAT team did their best to keep the snow intact and provide fun for all participants. They did not disappoint.
I arrived on day 0, stopping off to collect my media ticket at the local Skoda/VW dealership. At that moment, I was shocked to see a real, new 935 with special FAT livery emerging from one of the warehouses to head directly to the track (later exhibited in front of the Porsche hall). This prompted me to immediately head to the airfield to see what else I might find. It did not disappoint. I walked straight into an area where Audi Tradition was conducting a photo/video session with Harald Demuth and an S1 Sport Quattro. Seeing everything from the GT1 race car to an amazing collection of Spyder race cars sent countless shivers down my spine.
Thanks to Audi Hungary, I had the pleasure of travelling in a new RSQ3, which was a really convenient partner throughout the entire trip. After enough wandering, I met a friend in Zell who showed me around to photograph the Audi, fulfilling my part of the deal with Audi Hungary.
The excitement from the day’s events made me eager to see what the next day would bring and what else I could see, photograph, and experience. I set out relatively early to capture some of the preparations and to photograph without too many people around. The first thing I caught was Ken Block’s Hoonitron being tested and videoed on the track – a spectacular view. That car is still bonkers, not to mention the legacy. Amongst the first few cars on the track, I spotted 917cfk’s staggering recreation. Although it couldn’t complete many laps due to the melting snow, it provided me with a few nice frames – a road-legal 917K on spiked wheels and skis on top? Come on!
As the day progressed, the snow began to melt significantly, posing serious problems for the organisers. The race itself had to be cancelled, and unfortunately, we couldn’t see the Skijöring either. However, this did not dampen anyone’s enthusiasm or diminish the atmosphere of the event. Once the 4WD rally cars and skilled drivers started smashing through the slush, they managed to cheer everyone up with a spectacular show. To top everything off, Red Bull’s ‘Flying Bulls show’ performed an impressive air display during the break. We were back to watching as the drivers became more familiar and reckless on the track, again providing a feast for the eyes and ears. Volkswagen surprised everyone with an unofficial public premiere, with brand boss Thomas Schäfer, racing legend Hans-Joachim “Striezel” Stuck, and six-time rally cross world champion Johan Kristoffersson drifting across the ice in the still-camouflaged next-generation Golf R.
As with these types of events, it brought quite a guest list together. While the Porsche family and RUF were present, Automobili Amos showcased his latest restomod, the Delta Safarista. Competing were Olympic and World Cup ski champion Marcel Hirscher, who evoked memories of the late US drift star Ken Block in the electrically powered Audi S1 Hoonitron, former Formula 1 driver Mark Webber (Porsche Taycan), and current Formula 1 star Valtteri Bottas (Porsche 911 Dakar), who completed a few laps on an unfamiliar track. Raimund Baumschlager, Austria’s 14-time national rally champion, stirred up a lot of snow in the Red Bull Skoda, as did DTM champion Bruno Spengler in the Dakar Rally-winning MINI.
Thank you to everyone involved. I hope you enjoy the pictures that try to capture what this event meant to me. Thanks to the FAT team for maintaining the event.
By the way, if you live on the other side of the pond, the good news is that a similar event (probably with more snow and ice) is about to take place in Aspen.
To top off my extraordinary trip, I decided to return home via a different route. At the toll booth, I spotted a mint-condition 959. My heart skipped a beat, and by the time I realised what I had seen, it was gone. However, this was not my last encounter with the car and its owner, but that will be another story for you all.