Under these rather extreme driving conditions, however, the system becomes so prevelent that you feel you could let go of the wheel and the car would drive itself around the course while you sip on your hot cooca. It can be a very comforting feeling when your driving down a winding road and meet a fury creature trying to get to the other side of the road at the exact moment you come aroung that turn. However, on this ice course, where the name of the game was to have fun, it became a nuisance, constantly reajusting power to the wheels by braking, transfering torque to different wheels and, well you get the drift. Needless to say, the car felt like it was on rails, Åke just couldn't get his A6 to do anything other than drive slow and steady. At full throttle I think I could have got out of the car and walked along side of the A6. The saving grace, and by this I mean it allowed us to have fun, was that you could switch off the ESP with the touch of a button located directly to the right of the steering wheel.
And so it was, on the second lap Åke switched off the ESP. It was then that the A6 went from the Sunday church mobile to a devilishly furious car. Down the straight away into turn one the bend on the road seemed to take less and less time to get to after every lap. Around the turns, the car seemed to want to stay on course but the constant input of fuel made the car loose its grip from the frozen river allowing me to experience for the first time true fishtailing. After some laps it was time to give the A6 a break.
Later on in the day, while Ylva had returned from a ride in the TT, and I was waiting for it to cool so I could be next; I heard someone ask another spectator; " Is that the guy from the USA", in Swedish. I can understand Swedish ok so I answered yes. To which he replied, "Wanna go for a ride?". Since the TT was not ready I decided what the hell and hoped in. The black A4 was fitted with rally tires, for maximum traction. The owner, Andreas, had also fitted the car with a camcorder on the dash to record all the events. While waiting at the starting point for what seemed like forever, someone came up and said; "You driving with him? Here, you are going to need this", and handed me a roll of toilet paper. That very instant it all came together; this is the Audi with the missing front bumper. It turns out, the bumper was lost the night before when Andreas went off the road. Andreas proceeded to tell me that the turbo was no longer with us as it had broken a year earlier. About the same time, I peeked in the back seat and noticed a helmet. "Maybe I should put that on"; I said, to which he replied; " If you want". I thought to myself this camcorder might also record the last few moments of my life.
We were finally given the go ahead and we were speeding toward turn 1 lighting fast. The grip on the tires allowed Andreas to move his car in a forward motion while being completely perpendicular to the road. An exciting feeling for someone that has never quite experienced that extreme. Then came turn 2, a left turn, which meant that the right side of the car was perpendicular to the road. For those keeping score that is the passengers side folks. On every left turn I was torn between two emotions. The first, was one of pure excitement and exhileration. Your going around a turn at speeds you would usually drive on a straight road. It was something most people don't experience on an everyday bases. It's the kind of thing you see in the movies. The adrenaline rush was wonderful. The second feeling was one of, this is insane, this car is going sideways and still moving forward and the ice seems to be getting closer to my door. I hope these tires hold. I asked Andreas if he had competed at all, to which he replied; "Nah..Nah". I'm not sure if I actually wanted to know the answer to that question, as he entered yet another left turn. After some laps we came in and I got out of the A4 with a slightly bigger grin.
Then it came time for the TT. The Devorcer, as I so aptly named because, Petter, the driver had decided to go for broke and bring his wifes TT to the isträff. As we are given the go ahead and began to tear down the straightaway into turn one, Petter says, "If anything happens to this car I'm a dead man". Understandable, given the fact that we are in a 1.8L 225hp turbo roadster given as a gift just a few months ago, and turn 1 was quickly upon us. The TT was another example of what the engineers over in the german auto makers facilities spend their workdays on. The TT just seemed to be tethered to the course. Even with only two good tires, as Petter explained, I still felt completly safe in the cabin of the Devorcer. Since the recently replaced engine on this baby had barely gotten off Audi's power plant assembly line, Petter brought her in for a rest.
I was having a great time except for one thing. I still hadn't given the course a try myself. I had come with the right wheels but couldn't use them. After all, the only type of driving I had done that even remotely came close to this was at about 30kph on a parking lot, and it wasn't very good. However, Åke was gracious enough to let Ylva and I drive the family car. I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to learn some technics. Ylva was first behind the wheel. Down the first straight away you hear this giggle followed by a weee coming from her . She did the first lap with the ESP on, just to get the hang of it. On the second lap, the ESP was deactivated and thats when the fishtailing began. I have to hand it to Ylva, she seemed quite comfortable at making the turns and good at taking direction. She spun out once, and wound up facing the wrong way on the track. Just then I saw that around the corner came an A4. A black one. A black A4 without the front bumper. Yes, its Andreas. Thankfully there were no incidents, and after a few more laps she brought in the car. Now it was my turn.