There was also the chance to watch the 2012 Dakar Rally-winning Mini All4 Racing, a car built for competition in arid deserts, in action in the middle of the Austrian Alps. The Mini was in good company, with a number of historic machines with rally raid-provenance competing.
And we haven’t even mentioned the classic Saabs, Volvos and Volkswagen Beetles. Or the forward-looking Volkswagen Golf eR1 electric racer. Or the historic Chevrolet Corvette. Or the one-off Bentley Continental GT W12, complete with skis on the roof. Or the motorbike sidecars, competition buggies, ice karts or the NASCAR stock car.
That multitude of bizarre sights were all part of the 2020 GP Ice Race at Zell am See. The event was first held last year, and serves as a sort icy Austrian Goodwood Festival of Speed, albeit on a far smaller scale. And, obviously for an event on an airfield, on a flat course rather than a hillclimb (although the Alps served as a stunning backdrop).
The GP Ice Race’s oddball nature is probably explained by its historic roots in the sport of skijoring. Translating as ‘ski driving’, skijoring is a winter sport in which a skier is towed, usually by a horse, dog or – in this case – motor vehicle.
A motorbike skijoring event was first held on a frozen lake in Zell am See in 1938, with cars added to the bill in 1952. It grew from there, moving to the airfield in 1969 before dropping off the calendar in 1974 after having to be cancelled several times due to weather.
That was until it was revived last year as the GP Ice Race, with skijoring remaining a key part. Cars towing skiers included the Formula E car, and Audi DTM car, old and new Porsche 911s and a historic Volvo 1800.
Alongside the skijoring – surely due a full championship? – there were timed sprints and even four-car head-to-head races. Ultimately, it was an endearingly, wonderfully haphazard and odd event.