Ice Driver Class of 2018 - Schools Out!

So Ice Driver 2018 is finally over and we have returned to the UK for a busy season on track. Last weekend we returned to the track, with Scott starting his racing season in the Ginetta GT5 Challenge at Oulton Park. The Easter weather certainly gave his ice driving skills some exercise!

As promised, here’s a round up of the Ice Driver picture gallery Class of 2018. We’ve added as many images as we can find from everyone who sent them over.

We would like to say a massive thank you to everyone involved with Ice Driver 2018, from our partners and all the staff at Vestlia Resort and Bardola Hotel in Geilo. Harald Elisabeth, Kaja and Leif at Dagali Centre.

Plus of course, all of the Ice Driver Team of instructors, event co-ordinators and technicians who keep everything running as it should in the sub zero temperatures.

Finally, a huge thank you to all of our guests for your business and travelling to Ice Driver this season. More than ten years on, your support continues to make us very proud of what we do and inspires us to enjoy each season and make use everyone has a great time in Norway.

Roll on 2019!


Why Are The British Such Poor Winter Drivers?

Yes, it’s that time of year once again in the UK. That time when, despite everyone knowing in advance that winter weather was coming, drivers are gripped with fear and an inescapable lack of ability to deal with driving or travelling in even moderate snowfalls. The press hysteria adds to the hype as they love a good story of the Brits paralysed with fear at the sight of falling snow on the driveway. And indeed giving names to this weather - The Beast From The East this year - makes us look even moire foolish than normal.

As we write this we are located here in Norway in the midst of our Ice Driver season. Today was -29c and all of the trains are still running as normal, the buildings are all heated with no burst pipes, Vestlia Hotel continues as normal and drivers of all ages are simply going about their daily business. Just a normal day.

So just why are we Brits so bad at dealing with winter weather? With more than ten years experience of operating Ice Driver in Scandinavia, we are well placed to consider this fact. So here are our top reasons why Britain grinds to a halt at the smallest of snowfalls.

1. Training - Chief Instructor Andy McKenna sums it up. “One of the biggest differences between us and Scandinavia is that we don’t teach ANYTHING about driving in winter with very little regard paid to it on our driving test schedule.. Therefore the first time a person feels a car slide or move underneath them is at the onset of a real skid and not in a controlled environment. Even if people were taught the most basic of car control techniques, it would save so many accidents and result in far safer and more confident drivers."

2. Tyres - In Scandinavia, winter tyres with titanium studs are the norm in winter time. Each autumn, everyone switches to the second set of winter wheels and tyres they have stored at home in the garage. These tyres are, quite simply, the difference between night and day in their ability to grip. While winter tyres are becoming more popular in the UK, studded tyres are not allowed. And even when UK cars fitted with winter tyres and the driver has training, there is still the issue of being surrounded by people crawling along almost at walking pace, body tense with white knuckles and terrified at the prospect of the snow on the road ahead.

3. Acclimatisation - In the UK, with it’s maritime climate, the cold weather rarely stays for long. Often, as quickly as the temperature dropped, it rises once again and the roads are clear. This makes it difficult for someone who is a casual driver and blessed with no curiosity to acclimatise to the levels of grip. In Scandinavia, the snow comes in November and then stays until springtime. This means that drivers become accustomed to the environment and this becomes normal.

4. A lack of desire to learn - Quite simply, people who are enthusiastic about their driving and who have a desire to learn more are sadly in a minority. Most people view their car as an unavoidable transportation expense and chose a car with the same enthusiasm as choosing a nee fridge freezer - will it be reliable, with it do what I want it to do? And whilst we accept that not everyone can be as passionate and indeed geeky about the art of driving as ourselves, it is a shame that drivers are not more curious about expanding thier own personal skills, both for the satisfaction and also for pride, their personal safety and that of their loved ones who travel with them.

You don’t have to spend the sums required to travel here to Ice Driver if you wish to become a more confident winter driver. Most of Ice Drivers guests are here not because they hate winter driving. They come because they love it and want to use our facilities to polish their high performance driving skills.

For those less passionate, there are many skid pan courses and other driving courses you can invest in that will help you become a better driver. And if you’re already an ethusiastic driver and genuinely wish to take your driving to a higher level than ever before, you owe it to yourself to get in touch with us.

We dearly wish you would. Because here in Norway right now, we are the butt of so many Norwegian jokes as we watch the news each evening with our friends here that it is becoming a little wearing!

Come on Britain, learn some skills and be proud of them!


What Can a Track Driver Learn From a Trip to Ice Driver?

One of the core beliefs of Ice Driver and the whole reason why we started the company was quite simply, that Ice Driving is a superb venue for learning. Our ethos is that every driver should be able to take away a fresh set of driving skills that will provide long term benefit. Whether they are a World Champion of motorsport, a historic racing competitor or a corporate event guest. More than a decade later, that core belief remains the same.

A strong element of this year’s Ice Driver guests have been experienced track drivers who have been driving for quite some time. They own high quality cars capable of fast lap times and above all, they wish to take their driving skills to an ever higher level.

Chris Whittle is one such driver. With a long experience of track driving for enjoyment across Europe and a history of Porsche ownership over the years that reads like a buyers guide to rare Porsches, he has considerable experience of driving on a diverse range of iconic race tracks.

Chris spent two days with us this season, we caught up with him for a chat after he had returned home for his thoughts.

What are the main things you enjoyed and what did your learn that you will be able to take away and apply to your circuit driving this summer?

Learning comes from experience on the limit. You have to live the journey, feel and respond to your environment … and Ice Driving with a variety of tuition and cars enables you to do precisely that.
I had promised myself for four years that should do it, and now I have.
Will it make me a better driver ? Of course. Every car must slide at the limit. The confidence to feel the approach to that limit and respond rather than just react to it after the event, is the next stage in my magical journey.

Having returned home, I cam already think of moments in my track driving history where what I’ve learned in Norway would have been very useful.

What car you drive on track. Tell us more about what you have owned and your circuit driving experience?

It all started as a brief fling with a go-kart whilst in holiday in Douglas with my parents at the age of 12. This generated my first serious debt --- it expired over three months at a rate of 2/6p per week (12.5p in new money), and resulted in my passion to own a Kart being over-ruled by my Mother’s preferential right to a very small car. I was heart-broken. Over succeeding years the sense of loss intensified and at a point where the children’s school fees abated, I acquired a secondhand Boxster S. That was the start of my journey.

Dial the clock forwards and the Boxster had become a Porsche 964RS RHD, then a LHD and then a Porsche 964 RS N-GT. It had blown it’s engine which had been re-built to a very high standard but the paint was jus starting to become generally porous and translucent. So at massively inflated cost (estimates never reduce) it was fettled and presented for it’s first track-day outing at the Oulton Park RS day around ten years ago. That was a baptism of fire and as I said afterwards, coming out of Shell Oils I may as well have parked up on the grass and just let everybody past !!

Over three years and 20,000 Km this car, together with coaching from a whole series of instructors on track days, taught me to drive.

(This car is the well known ex- Ulrich Richter Porsche 964 RS N-GT given to the works driver by the Porsche factory as a gift.}

Since then, I’ve been fortunate to own Porsche 993RS, Porsche 96GT3 MkI. MkII. RS. 911 GT3R. 997 GT3. A Euro Carrera MkI. 2.7 Carrera MFI. Porsche 968CS. 993 C2. 924 Carrera GTS. 911 2.4S and a Cayman R.

Love of my life at the moment is my modified Cayman GT4 --- the car that Porsche worried might be too good to keep GT3 owners comfortable with their purchase, and with justification.

How many miles each year do you drive on track days, which circuits have you driven and what is it about driving on track that appeals?

Over the years I’ve added Rockingham, Spa, Knockhill, Anglesey, Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Thruxton, Castle Comb, Cadwell Park, Zandvoort to the list of tracks. This year I’ll add Zolder and Blyton. On a track day I’ll generally do between 120 and 200 miles on track.

You’re a firm believer in driver coaching on track and have sought the input of many driver coaches, what was it that made you decide to come to Ice Driver?

I raced a Porsche Cayman by myself and ended the season at the middle of the field, but driving a Class1 car amongst the Class 1 and Class 2 cars.
It was a very steep learning curve but I quickly realized that the only place to learn was outside my comfort zone. Finding problems and dealing with them was where the adrenaline rush was. And dealing with them meant tuition. I’ve sat with Howard Hunt, the late Sean Edwards, Nick Tandy, Richard Attwood, Richard Ellis amongst many.

But like all good things, the racing had to come to an end partly because of cost, and partly because I preferred to spend my budget on building my own competence. Making me feel good from the inside out rather than from the outside in, if that makes sense.

Ice Driver was the next logical step.

What next this year ?
At least 10 track days are planned for this year, I like the idea of buddying up with some drivers who share my dream but are at the earlier stages of this journey and sharing stories and experience. And since it seems likely that Porsche will not build a GT4RS to rival the GT3RS … I am looking forward to further developing my car.
And then ?
Mr McKenna (and family) … will you invite me back for more learning ?


Ice Driver Class of 2018 - The Mid Term Roundup

Our 2018 season is now in full swing, with the fleet of BMW's, our Porsche and Ford Focus all working hard, as are our great team of motorsport instructors and co-ordination staff.

We thought it would be fun to share just a fraction of the images we've managed to grab this season as we work take the odd moment to look around at the beautiful Norwegian countryside and the flat six or our Porsche sits ticking over ready for the next driver.

So scroll down, enjoy some of these images taken on Canons, camera phones and Go Pros. And we are only just half way through the season too!


Winter Photography Tips At Ice Driver

Photographing cars in the winter can be the most spectacular of things to do. And coming to the beautiful wilderness of Norway in winter time gives everyone who visits Ice Driver some great photo opportunities. You will probably be with us for just a few days, so it’s really important to make the most of every potential photograph you see. So, if you’re visiting Ice Driver this season, here’s our guide on how to take great pictures, take care of your camera gear and yourself and create some great memories from your trip.

1. Protection for you, as well as your gear. If you are cold yourself, you'll have no enthusiasm for taking pictures. This is true not just for photography but actual driving too. Your mind won't function properly and your creativity will be a big zero. Thermal underwear won't win many admirers, but who cares, if it works? Bring some. Also, a good hat, some gloves and a good strong pair of boots are vital too.

Scandinavian light can be amazing, make the most of it

For hands, some thin gloves work just fine, plus there are some useful iPhone friendly gloves around these days that let you operate the screen whilst wearing them, well worth the small investment. Our partners at Mountain Warehouse have some great options. As for the hat? We do enjoy seeing very silly ones!

2. Protection for your gear. Contrary to popular belief, your camera should not fail in the cold, just as long as you do a couple of simple things. Keep your spare batteries warm (you do have spare batteries, don't you…?) In an inside pocket or somewhere close to your body heat is perfect, then if you find the cold has killed one, swap over and let the dead one revive itself. The battery that you thought was flat will come back to life as it heats back up.

3. Go Pros We have a love hate relationship with Go Pro cameras at Ice Driver. We absolutely love these amazing little cameras and the footage they are capable of. But for some, they can be time consuming to set up, which inevitably eats into your driving time. This season at Ice Driver we will have suggested GoPro setup points on each car. Trust our team when they suggest the best location for your GoPro, as this means that we will not lose time as people try and set up and frame the shot when you really should be getting prepared to enjoy your drive.

Also, have your GoPro fully charged, with an empty memory card and on standby, ready to go. When your turn to drive comes, mount it, roll the camera and then forget about it.

4. Shoot a lot Whatever camera you are using, shoot lots and lots. And then lots more. Quite simply, you’ve gone to the trouble of travelling to Ice Driver. The chances are that you will not be returning next week and a full year may go by before you have another chance. So make the most of the opportunity and the scenery, don’t try to decide which to keep and which to delete, simply keep shooting, then decide later.

Keep a camera nearby, you never know where the next shot will come from

This means having large capacity memory cards, spare batteries, fully charged, plus your charger waiting back at the hotel room too. We’ve lost count of the number of guests who have missed shots either because the battery went down or the card was full.

If you’re shooting on a mobile phone, then before the day, back up all your images and free some space to make the most of the photo opportunities as they arise. There’s nothing worse than having to consider whether a shot is worth taking because your iPhone is flagging up that it’s nearly full.

5. Video. Shooting video in very low temperatures brings more things to consider. If the location is truly arctic like the lake at Ice Driver, the actual stillness makes the slightest sound ring out. The crunch of snow under foot can have great emphasis and engine notes in snowy locations ring out and echo back from the lakeside trees. It’s worth paying particular attention to recording engine noises, as the cars do have a more spectacular tone in the stillness of the Norwegian countryside.

If you’re using a fluid head video tripod, most of them become difficult to use below -10c. The fluid in the head loses it’s viscosity and becomes stiff. Not matter how much you back off the preload, getting a decent panning shot can become almost impossible. If that happens, take it of the tripod and handhold. Practice your handheld panning by swivelling at the waist. Start rolling the camera five seconds or so before it comes into view, smoothly pan through the shot, feet steady, while swivelling your hips, then hold it another five seconds to let the sound recede.

6. Return to base. The important note about taking care of your gear is not just how you treat it outside, but what you do when you're done. DO NOT bring all your gear back indoors with you when you get back to base. It can fog up with condensation both on the lenses and more importantly, inside. Perfectly good cameras can become damaged because of internal damp after being taken inside when the metal and glass was still icy cold. Instead, put your gear in the boot of the car and then let it come up to temperature gradually in a hallway or other intermediate area.

Finally, don’t forget to share your shots and tag us on social media. We love seeing the great memories our Ice Driver guests create so when you post on social media, tag us in your shots and we will find them too.


BTCC Driver Jake Hill Joins the Ice Driver Crew

Each season, as the motorsport calendar winds down, we receive a flurry of emails from instructors wishing to work at Ice Driver in winter time. This is in part driven by the thought of a winter with no competing and, more cynically, the thought of no wages from track instructing too!

Most of the Ice Driver instructors have been with us for many years. Ice Driver is a small family business and while we are dynamic and quickly scaleable for large events, our core team is a small and tightly knitted group. A little like the Red Arrows, instructors are generally chosen by consent with everyone else.

Step forward Jake Hill.

Jake’s been on our radar a few times this season, both in his day job in BTCC and also when coaching on track. He’s only young, with none of the grey hairs of the other Ice Driver team, but that will come after a few years of BTCC battling, no doubt!

Chief Instructor and director Andy likes Jakes attitude and confident attitude that lacks the arrogance that can sometimes be there in drivers. “He’s a bright lad, the rest of the team like him too. I’ve watched him coaching on track and liked his style.”

Jake is looking forward to being on the ice for the first time this season, “Even though I race on slicks in BTCC, I am quite comfortable with the feel of a car moving around beneath me and I’m looking forward to having a location that makes that characteristic a constant, repeatable thing, lap after lap. That’s got to be good for driver confidence”

What else do you think will be good for you at Ice Driver?

“I think it’s a great place for a driver to build confidence, learn new skills and really get to grips with things like weight transfer, using throttle and brakes to move the weight of the car around and become really comfortable with unusual car attitudes.”

“Above all, there’s probably going to be two sides to the whole experience. It’s going to be a unique chance to not just learn a whole range of new skills, but also have a really enjoyable time too.”

Jake will be with us coaching at Ice Driver this season. All of the Ice Driver coaches have a great combination of skills, able to adjust very quickly to a driver’s needs, concerns and objectives to deliver a driving and learning experience that drivers take away to make them better drivers than ever. We think Jake’s going to love it on the ice this winter.