One week before the World Cup ski racers arrived. it was four-wheeled action on the ice. Rene de Boer issues a snow report
Photography by Historic Ice Trophy
The Austrian twin-village of Altenmarkt-Zauchensee, in the middle of the wonderful Amadeeregion — one of the world’s largest skiing areas — is best known as the headquarters of the famous Atomic ski brand, the title-winning equipment of the likes of Bode Miller and Hermann Maier. But there is also motorsport action to be found, obviously in the snow, and this year saw the second edition of the Historic Ice Trophy, a regularity run for classic cars.
Founding father of the event is car anorak Robert Weitgasser, who used to take part in some winter rallies for classic cars but wasn’t quite satisfied with what he found. “In fact, in our opinion, most of the events we attended were quite boring,” he says. “We wanted something more exciting for ourselves, while also allowing others to take part and have some fun.” So together with his sister Lisl he set up his own event, both having clearly inherited the motorsport bug from their father. “Some 20 to 25 years ago our father organised so called ‘skijoring’ events in Altenmarkt, where skiers were being pulled by cars. This was a big success in the beginning, but after a couple of years interest decreased.”
Weitgasser’s plans were met with enthusiasm by local farmers, who offered their land as competition ground for the 2.5km track: “In November we started flooding the land to create the ice floor, and every time snow fell we drove on it with the big trucks from the fire brigade to strengthen the snow.” Last year’s inaugural event was hampered by a slight lack of snow, but it still attracted 35 competitors.
The snow shortfall in the previous year was more than made up for during this year’s second edition, which had 52 teams taking part. Apart from the Austrians there were competitors from Germany, Sweden and Italy, plus Venezuela’s ex-motorcycle World Champion and F1 racer, Johnny Cecotto. Cars taking part ranged from MercedesBenz 230 SL, Porsche 911, BMW 2002 and Lancia Fulvia to the Ford Falcon which starred on the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, an ex-works Safari Rally Lada driven by Austrian rally ace Ruth Stohl, a Trabant S601 and even a Volkswagen T2 bus!
The event included a regularity run on two days, where the drivers had to set their standard time themselves and then try to get as close as possible during their timed runs. Weitgasser: “This allows everyone to compete at their own level, irrespective of their ability and cars, rather than having to keep an average speed that is equal for everyone. Still, we had average speeds of up to 50 km/h, which is not bad on snow.” On Friday victory went to Austrian pairing Hermann Schwarz/Thomas Matzelberger with a VW Beetle, while Siegfried and Angelika Kohler took the spoils on Saturday with a Porsche 911, finishing ahead of Constantin and Christine Kletzer with a similar car and Hannes and Beatrix Erfurth with a Volvo 122S. The sputtering Trabant of Herbert Margreiter and Konnie Aistleitner finished a creditable fourth.
Cecotto didn’t show in the top ranks, but still enjoyed the event very much: “It was fun, although they gave me a 1990 BMW M3 with leather seats and all luxurious stuff in it. That car was not ideal and to be honest ice racing is not really my favourite driving style either, but I still had a great time!”