What Is The GP Ice Race?
The GP Ice Race takes place in Zell am See, a small Alpine town south of Salzburg in Austria. The ice races date back to 1937 and they ran until 1974, the races were restarted in 2019 for the first time since the mid-1970s and it ran again in early February 2020.
The images you see here are from the 2020 event and they showcase the two most popular aspects of the race – modern and vintage racing cars battling it out on the ice, and the sport of “skijoring” – when skiers are towed by cars around the circuit at speed. Over the past two years the event has grown significantly both in attendance and online popularity, the 2020 GP Ice Race saw a full entry book of 130 racers and 2021 is already sounding like it’s going to break the 2020 attendance figures.
Once of the key highlights of the GP Ice Race is being able to see genuinely iconic race and rally cars being driven in anger on the ice, cars like the Audi Sport Quattro S1 piloted by legendary World Rally Champion Walter Röhrl. The race includes classes for a number of different vehicle types including two wheel drive and four wheel drive cars, buggies, and vintage cars including race prepared Porsche 356s, 911s, a Red Bull NASCAR, a Volvo P1800, VW Beetles, Saabs, Fiat 500s, Trabants, Mini Coopers, and even a Corvette.
The Sport Of Skijöring
The word Skijöring comes from the Norwegian word “skikjøring”, which means “ski driving”. It’s been a popular means of winter travel in Scandinavia for hundreds of years. The indigenous Sami people of northern Scandinavia would harness reindeer and ski along behind, often at significant speed.
By the late-19th and early-20th century Skijöring behind dogs and riderless horses were a popular winter sports across Europe, it was even included as an exhibition sport at the 1928 Winter Olympic Games held in St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Of course once automobiles were commonplace it was only a matter of time before some enterprising winter sport enthusiasts tied a rope the the back of a car (or motorcycle) and tried their hand at motorised Skijöring. It would be motorised Skijöring that would find a home in the GP Ice Race from 1937 onwards.
If you’d like to read more about the GP Ice Race or buy tickets for next year you can click here to visit the official website.
All images courtesy of Marc Holstein and Christine Gabler
The following is Marc Holstein’s personal account of attending the GP Ice Race in 2020 for the first time:
“Travelling down to Zell Am See we were not sure what to expect. Our first impression was jaw-dropping – we were simply amazed by the amount of exotic vintage vehicles that came together to race on the ice.
There were countless Porsche 356, Audi Quattros and even small cars like an East German Trabant, Fiat Cinquecento, or a Classic Mini Cooper. The thing I was personally looking forward to was the skijöring. This is basically a skier, holding being towed behind the car with a rope – one of the skiers told us that they hit 110km/h on straight.
The vibes were great and it was great to experience such an open minded community. Our personal highlight in terms of cars would be the vintage Rothmans Rally Porsche, the vintage 911 with an amazing Warhol like pop-art paint-job, and of course all of the 356s racing on the ice.”
All images courtesy of Marc Holstein and Christine Gabler.
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