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World's Most Exciting Cars Landed in Aspen for the F.A.T. Ice Race

I love drifting in the snow. Ten years ago, I was doing it in a BMW 316i. Six years ago, I was at it on a frozen lake in Sweden in the new Volvo V60 Cross Country. Last month, I experienced it again in my FC RX-7. But I need more.
World's Most Exciting Cars Landed in Aspen for the F.A.T. Ice Race 43 photos
Photo: Stefan Bogner for Porsche Newsroom
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I have a rather extensive automotive bucket list. I've pinpointed a few things I'd love to experience in 2024. But it doesn't come close to what I would do with a decent budget. I've been eyeing a few ice-driving schools in Europe for some time now. And I'm under the impression that I'm at least half decent at going sideways in the snow at speeds of over 62 mph (100 kph).

One of these days, I will head over to France and see the Andros Trophy with my own eyes and report back to you with the news. But allow me to get to the main topic of today's story: the F.A.T. Ice Race. That name may sound familiar to you if you're a Porsche racing enthusiast. While vaguely familiar with the historic event, I was surprised to learn about its revival.

My love for Porsches has deepened over time, some 20 years after it started growing roots in my heart and mind. So, you can imagine how excited I was at the opportunity of talking to Ferdi Porsche himself about this event. Yes, you're right to assume that he's part of the family, and I'll share some more insights about him in a second.

Ferdi Porsche Interview

World's Most Exciting Cars Landed in Aspen for the F\.A\.T\. Ice Race
Photo: Stephan Bauer
I caught up with Ferdi while he was on the scene in Aspen, Colorado, for the first North American take of the historic race. I was pleasantly surprised to see he's a down-to-earth guy with a genuine love for cars and driving. Growing up in a family with such an impressive heritage will have that effect on you. I knew he was on a tight schedule, so I kept my questions to a minimum for now. But I feel I'll share more of his endeavors with you throughout the year. I have seen several videos and read stories about Ferdi going into our call, so I tried to develop some questions to reveal more about his story.

Naturally, I wanted to know his favorite childhood memory related to cars. "My favorite childhood car-related memory: it has to be the first time I drove a car. I was 13 and kept annoying my parents for half a year, telling them I was old enough to sit behind the steering wheel. My mom taught me how to drive in a Volkswagen Beetle Cabriolet on a forest road."

"I could barely reach the pedals. Of course, I have many fond automotive memories, including my trips to see the Monaco F1 Grand Prix in the early 2000s." While racing on the ice in Zell am See was starting to become extremely popular in the '50 and '60s. It stopped in the early '70s, and Ferdi decided to revive it after an almost half-century hiatus.

I wanted to know how the idea entered his mind, and I loved the answer: "My dad bought a Porsche 550 that belonged to his father, and it had spiked tires. I didn't know about the historic race in Zell am See then. When I saw the pictures, I loved the idea. Seeing the cars in the snow and so many spectators on the sides, it had everything you'd expect from an exciting event. We revived it in 2019 and had two fun editions before COVID-19 slowed us down."

World's Most Exciting Cars Landed in Aspen for the F\.A\.T\. Ice Race
Photo: Classic Driver
"We also founded F.A.T. International as a reminder of the brand that sponsored the 1994 Le Mans winner. We organized an event in Austria two weeks ago. And this is our first time bringing it to the US." Learning about the cars and drivers lined up for these events, one thing came to mind: this could become as big as the Goodwood Festival of Speed, but seeing it all happen on snow makes it all the better. Just think of it this way: When did you last see a Porsche 911 GT1-98 going sideways on ice?

I would have never thought something like that would happen, but Porsche shipped the car from the museum in Germany for the race in Aspen, Colorado, and a series of other events across North America, too. Even Ken Block's Hoonipigasus Porsche was onsite, alongside other vehicles like the Nissan Safari Rally Z Tribute and the Corvette E-Ray. What I like most about this concept is that you could walk randomly down the pitlane and bump into people like Walter Rohrl, Mark Webber, or even Max Verstappen.

You'll see plenty of cars from the VAG Group, including World RallyCross race vehicles, but other brands are welcome, too. If regular Porsches are boring, I'm sure a selection of rally-prepped 911s and RUF supercars will cater to your needs. I have only scratched the surface regarding gawking at vehicles in the paddock. I've included photos from previous editions to grasp the sheer madness attached to the name. I was curious to learn about Ferdi's ride for the event, and his answer did not disappoint: "I'm driving a lightweight AWD 964 (under 2,425 lbs/ 1,100 kg) with the F.A.T. livery. We ran studded tires in Austria, but here we are on regular winter ones."

I didn't want to take up more of his time, so I concluded with two more questions. I asked about some of his favorite Ice Race moments and his future plans. "Austria was fantastic this year. The weather could have been better, but the vibe was amazing. I co-drove with Valtteri Bottas in the Porsche 911 Dakar. He figured out the ideal line as soon as he entered the track, he is such a chill guy to hang out with! But I also fondly remember one edition of the race where he rounded up 11 550 Spyders! As for the future, I want to grow F.A.T. in different directions. I see a lot of potential in it, and it might not always be an ice race exclusively."

Talking to Ryan Tuerck

World's Most Exciting Cars Landed in Aspen for the F\.A\.T\. Ice Race
Photo: Ryan Tuerck
Mobil 1 was an official sponsor for the event, as the company is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. So, it invited multiple drivers to participate in the race, including Patrick Long, Jade Avedisian, Loni Unser, Ryan Tuerck, and Chris Forsberg. The former FD Champion drove Nissan's Z project, while Ryan Tuerck brought two of his famous vehicles out to play: the Judd V8 Formula Supra and the Toyota Stout. I have been following both FD drivers for over a decade and was happy to chat with Ryan for a few minutes before he jumped back in the car to melt more snow.

I asked how he perceives the difference between sliding around on ice and his regular job: "It's a lot slower; it's almost like drifting in the wet. It's super fun and not my first time on ice- I've had some fun with Chris in Maine before! But it's the first time in these conditions for the Supra and the Stout, and I'm driving them back to back. The layout is exciting, and I like the banked turn!" I've included two videos to understand further what the F.A.T. Ice Race is all about.

The concept may become a holy ground for automotive enthusiasts in five years. I'm already planning my trip to Austria for the 2025 edition: if I manage to test the track in any Porsche, old or new, I'll be happier than a kid in a candy shop. I will return with more photos and updates from the Aspen, Colorado, event soon. I imagine Stephane Ortelli had a fantastic time driving the Porsche GT1 there, almost 30 years after winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind its wheel.

 
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About the author: Dragos Chitulescu
Dragos Chitulescu profile photo

The things Dragos enjoys the most in life are, in no particular order: cars, motorcycles, diecast cars, and drifting. He's seen (and driven) many vehicles since he started his writing career back in 2009, but his garage currently houses a 1991 Mazda RX-7 FC3S Turbo II and a 1999 Suzuki SV650-S.
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