#211, Drifting while driving on ice in Lapland

Every winter for the past 17 years, the owners of Sweden’s Lapland Driving School have been preparing acres of frozen tundra for the specialized automotive niche of drifting by driving on ice.

The facility, offering 14 varied circuits on nearly 3,000 acres, is located at Lake Udjaur near Arjeplog in Sweden. It’s a three-hour plane flight from Munich, Germany or Paris, France.

Driving on ice: fast and controlled

The allure of learning the skills needed to maneuver elite vehicles at high speeds over difficult, albeit controlled, surfaces attracts participants from around the world, from California to Brazil.

Ice driving in Lapland is a niche sport for three months every year.

Alix Masson, marketing director of the driving school, is our guest in this episode of The Weekly Driver podcast.

Co-hosts Bruce Aldrich and James Raia contacted Masson in Paris as the driving school prepared for the first of this year’s guests.

Driving on ice: five Formula 1 circuits

Masson explains that it takes 10 professionals with over 40 years of combined experience to prepare the ice driving circuits. Courses include 1:1 scale Formula 1 tracks such as YAS Marina in Abu Dhabi, Circuit Paul Ricard, Nürburgring, Le Mans and Silverstone. Oval tracks and other practice tracks are also offered.

“We are the biggest racing center in the world,” says Masson, whose career has included marketing different motor racing disciplines. “We have 30 cars in the fleet and during the months of January to March when it is coldest you are welcome to come with us and everyone learns to drift.

In drifting, a driver forces their car to slide sideways as the ice passes through a bend. Accomplished drifters can control what happens when their vehicle’s tires lose grip on the road.

Driving on ice: practice takes time

“After two or three days of training, you’re able to hit 200 km/h on ice,” says Masson of the skills learned at the Lapland driving school. “But the most important thing is to have as much fun as possible.”

According to the website:

“14 Circuits in total spread over our private frozen lake of nearly 1,200 hectares, the equivalent of 6 times the area of ​​Monaco. It’s a Herculean task, with more than 5,000 man-machine hours needed from November 1 to have the world’s largest driving center operational by January 8. Officially licensed Formula 1 circuits are built with meter precision using GPS coordinates.

Please join Bruce and I in our discussion with Masson about the unique world of ice drifting. We discuss the vehicles used, what instruction entails, and the various travel packages available to potential participants.

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