Masters of ice: how to make a Porsche race track in the Arctic
Meet the Porsche ice technicians who pave the way to unlimited drifts
Unique Porsche ice tracks inside the Arctic Circle
Over 350,000m2 of expertly prepared ice, the Porsche Driving Area Levi in Finland welcomes adrenaline-seeking enthusiasts 170km north of the Arctic Circle. We slide by to see how they do it
Freeze in your tracks Stop by the Porsche winter training area at Levi in northern Finland during the summer and a completely impassable swamp will greet you. But come winter, the 280-hectare site is transformed into beautifully prepped drift tracks that get the adrenaline pumping as soon as participants on the Porsche Ice Experience set eyes on them. The largest winter sports centre in the whole of country, the Levi tracks are formed from a 20cm-thick, snow-packed base layer, with a glass-smooth driving surface on top. Work to make this Porsche race track in the Arctic begins many months in advance for the ice technicians. If you want your customers to push themselves to their limits, you must be expected to do so as well.
Lone tractor ploughs snow in front of an icy forest
Ice techs and their machines ensure the routes at the Porsche Driving Area Levi are returned to pristine condition each morning
Man and machineWhen the first frost has penetrated the top layer of soil and the early snow has settled, the ice technicians set to work. They compact layer upon layer of snow, criss-crossing the rock-hard terrain repeatedly with their trusty snowmobiles – it has to be thick enough to support a weight of ten tonnes. As the senior supervisor here drills deep into the ground with a 30cm-long cordless drill to make sure the ice has reached the optimum thickness, they explain that this base layer is the most important thing of all. A delicate sensitivity is required when assessing the ice, since it must be able to withstand the 1.5-4mm spikes fitted to the wheels of the Porsche cars that traverse it.
Snow and ice sprays back onto machine as snowmobile drives
Cool job: trucks spread around 1m litres of water on the track surfaces each day
The daily battle with natureIf creating the base layer is an art, then making the driving surface is rocket science. It’s imperative that the surface is as smooth as glass. Six ice technicians battle the forces of nature as they work around the clock to take care of any lumps or bumps. Their job is to ensure not a single snowflake remains on the roadway. Even though the winter weather sits at a perfectly chilly -30°C, the sun has an influence on the ice molecules, meaning that even seemingly tiny elements can run the risk of warming the ice. In addition, the geothermal energy stored in the ground during summer can cause unwelcome movement, while the studded tyres of the cars take their toll on the surface as their spikes can bite up to 3cm into the ice. These technicians have some serious daily work cut out for them in order to keep each Porsche race track in the Arctic flawless and perfect for driving.
A man drills into the ice on a snow-covered track
Before drifting commences every morning, the quality of the ice is checked by hand and expert eye
To further ensure perfect conditions, the area is watered daily. Around 1m litres of 5°C water is pumped from a neighbouring river and spread over the surface of the tracks and left for around two hours to freeze. Such painstaking work is essential to create the ideal conditions for participants of the Porsche Ice Experience, where drivers hone their skills over ice with pinpoint precision under expert guidance – drift after drift.
View from the sky of the tyre track-covered winter landscape
The ice drift area of the Porsche Ice Experience offers endless fun
Porsche race track in the Arctic: an icy mecca for thrill-seeking driversThe final step of the track prep calls for a multitude of checks. The trained eye of the supervisor examines the possible weak points of the 12 handling courses, seven paddocks, six double loops, six figure of eights and two flick squares across the Porsche Driving Area. They inspect the site meticulously every morning and evening so that participants can attack the ice with confidence. Looking over the entire course of the Porsche race track in the Arctic in the morning, you’d hardly guess that there had been anyone driving here the previous day. Our ‘ice whisperer’ smiles and puts the cordless drill back into their anorak pocket having once again put the icing on the cake of the world’s coolest automotive experience.
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