You’ve heard the narrative time and time once more: Automobile tradition is doomed and younger fanatics have been robbed of the chance to interact in any kind of significant manner. Mass electrification, unfavorable laws, inflation, and value surges introduced upon by the public sale websites are going to kill automotive fanatic tradition as we all know it.
However after a weekend on the F.A.T. Ice Race in Zell am See, Austria, I’ve by no means been extra sure that the longer term is trying simply advantageous. The Ice Race and its dad or mum group, F.A.T. Worldwide, are the brainchild of Ferdi Porsche, the son of Porsche chairman Dr. Wolfgang Porsche and the nephew of F.A. Porsche, who designed the Porsche 911. Ferdi Porsche, at 30 years previous, is a skilled architect, a severe fan of streetwear and a contemporary artwork collector. He lives between Vienna and Zell Am See, the ancestral dwelling of Porsche.
F.A.T. was as soon as a French logistics firm that sponsored LeMans-winning Porsche 962s within the ‘90s. Ferdi Porsche has resurrected the title to create F.A.T. worldwide, an organization with a imaginative and prescient to convey automotive tradition to a wider viewers. As he likes to say, “The vehicles are the centerpiece however what brings the celebration is the folks.”
Within the late 1930s, Porsches would race on the frozen Lake Zell with skiers in tow. This custom lasted till 1974 earlier than it was revived by Ferdi in 2019. What began as a small-town custom in Zell Am See is now increasing, with one other version of the Ice Race happening in Aspen, Colorado from February 8-10th.
It’s 1AM at Kaprun Citadel, a 13th century fortification perched above the city of Zell Am See, as soon as dwelling to Salzburg’s landed gentry, such because the Ramseiders from Saalfelden, the Diethers of Schedling and Urstein or the Hundts of Ainetperg. Tonight, 90s hip hop is echoing all through the 800 yr previous stone partitions. Looped footage of gnarly Group B rally scenes are projected above a DJ sales space, and throngs of 20-somethings clad in neon hues of ‘80s and ‘90s motorsport garb are throbbing to the bassline, fueled by Crimson Bull and Jagermeister. The theme is ‘80s and ‘90s, even when most of the partygoers weren’t sufficiently old to drive in the course of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Falling in line, I snapped pics of the day’s occasions on a Kodak disposable movie digital camera.
The celebration was the capstone occasion of the F.A.T. Ice Race; the race was canceled final yr as a consequence of heat climate, and the yr earlier than that it wasn’t open to the general public as a consequence of COVID-19. And the yr earlier than that, it was forbidden due to the pandemic. Whereas the occasion did go on as deliberate this yr, it wasn’t with out its troubles: rain had made the timing system malfunction, so vehicles ran with out recording lap occasions. The three,000 folks in attendance didn’t appear to care.
It definitely didn’t decelerate the racing, as a result of the F.A.T. Ice Race, the tentpole occasion of F.A.T. Worldwide, actually isn’t strictly in regards to the vehicles. “Our concept is to be there for the subsequent era of automobile fanatics, and try this over each vertical we’ve got,” Porsche says. And people verticals embody restricted version streetwear collabs, artwork, hospitality, restricted version watches from Porsche Design, and events. Numerous events. And there’s Mankei, a espresso store on the finish of the famed Grossglockner Excessive Alpine Highway that Ferdi Porsche designed, too. Streetwear designer Sean Wotherspoon created a capsule assortment of F.A.T.-themed designs utilizing deadstock items he sourced from all over the world and customised them with neo-vintage motorsports in thoughts. These items had been on sale on the Ice Race, and offered out inside 35 minutes. To Porsche, the vehicles are simply merely a part of the equation; “we’re extra popular culture than simply vehicles.” And that’s why the Ice Race feels nearly as diametrically against a staid PCA (Porsche Membership of America) occasion as it may possibly get. In the course of the day, the announcer needed to get on the PA system and remind attendees that it was strictly verboten to do donuts within the slushy parking zone.
“My concept was to create a race the place you may actually drive a Trabant,” Porsche says. And positive sufficient, an East German-made Trabant has really been part of the Ice Race. And that’s what makes the occasion shine, the unfold of vehicles. “It doesn’t matter if you happen to convey a ten thousand greenback automobile or a 5 million greenback automobile, and that’s what the folks need–even those with the 5 million greenback automobile. They need to be part of the group and cling with everybody,” Porsche proudly proclaims. Selection is the spice of life, and it’s on full show on the Ice Race. Whereas there’s definitely a refined theme happening, and that’s Porsche (the automaker, not the person), it’s balanced with a wholesome serving of olive oil-powered classic Ferraris and Alfas, swift Swedes within the type of two-stroke Saabs, and rally kings just like the WRX STi and the Audi S1 Quattro. Valtteri Bottas even took out a Porsche 911 Dakar for just a few laps and Bruno Spengler, DTM champ, ripped laps in a Dakar-winning MINI. Sadly not one of the dozen or so 550 Spyders, many on mortgage from the Porsche Museum, made it out on the slush-laden observe. There’s at all times subsequent time.
Throughout the Pond
On February 8-10th, for the primary time, the F.A.T. Ice Race will happen exterior of Austria. The second installment might be held in Aspen, Colorado. The occasion guarantees to seize the identical kind of youthful, democratic vibe because the Austrian model, however in fact, nothing goes off with out a hitch.
Issues with permits made the financials of the race problematic, and Ferdi was left with a selection: proceed with the pageant that he and his crew dreamed up whereas rising the ticket costs to make the entire thing possible, or name all of it off. With a lot work already into the challenge, he pushed ahead. He addressed the controversy on instagram and defined what had occurred to his followers. By the point the information hit, a lot of the exhausting work was already carried out. Porsche legend Jeff Zwart was tapped to get some attention-grabbing automobiles on the occasion, and folk had already made journey preparations.
The tickets for the primary iteration of the Aspen occasion naturally landed at a a lot greater value level than the Austrian model, however that was by no means a part of the preliminary imaginative and prescient. “We had completely different ticket tiers all the best way all the way down to a non-ticked parade by city,” Porsche says. Tickets stay for this yr’s occasion they usually carry a $1911 price ticket.
“I do know from structure, it’s at all times essentially the most troublesome to start out with a clean piece of paper,” he provides, hinting at the truth that nothing goes easily the primary time. However that’s the factor in regards to the Ice Race–in opposition to all odds, it at all times goes on. Even by the assorted setbacks it needed to overcome in Europe, the occasion was a hit, and the group it drew was younger, artistic, and devoid of the peacocking typical of automobile occasions. Porsche’s recipe of folding in numerous “popular culture” verticals into his occasions feels novel, to not point out that it attracts in some critically cool vehicles. And maybe extra importantly, new fanatics.