May 10, 2004

Fun on the Ice in Råneå
Article and photos by: Oniel Albino
January 2004

On Sunday morning, the time had finally arrived. Today, I would be going to the Audi Isträff in Råneå. The weather was perfect. The night before it had snowed pretty good and had laid a nice new layer on the existing snow, making the trip to Råneå a constant reminder of what was to be.

I found out about the meet through my friend Åke, who had organized two prior Isträff. I had heard his stories about the Isträff and seen the pictures on website.

When Åke first told me that the meet was indeed on, I didn't want to miss the chance of watching cars making their way through a course plowed out of a frozen river. However, the first hurdle I had to tackle was that fact that I don't own an Audi. Kinda an essential ingredient when you are going to an Audi meet. So, I had to get my hands on an Audi. Luckily Ylva, my better half, was able to borrow her parents Audi 80. That problem solved; I could get to the meet. However, I decided that I shouldn't do my very first driving on an ice course with her parents car. Although, not being able to drive was a downer, I looked at the positive side of this. After all, I was going to see, for the most part, ordinary Joe's like myself driving their cars with the speedometer pegged at speeds most people get tickets for from the local blue and white. They would be fish tailing around the corners and creating some pretty cool looking rooster tails on the straight away.

After meeting up with Åke Sunday morning, we were on our way. Thirty minutes or so later we arrived at the meeting point, the local Q8 near the track. There were about 17 cars that had made it out that day. I turned to Ylva and she had the biggest smile on her face. Ylva happens to be an afficianado of Audi, you might say she is plain bonkers about them. She had a '92 Audi 100, which was stolen. In fact, there were several times when she blurted out, "I can't believe my Audi is gone. Do you know how angry that makes me."

The five minute Audi procession to the course seemed more like an invasion by Audi on the town of Råneå. The few drivers that passed us on the way all had the same quizzical look, as 17 Audi´s made there way through the town and its roundabouts. Setting up the course was simple: let a river freeze, plow out a course. Then just add cars and drivers. The rules: 4 cars on the course maximum, and keep your distance. As one car left the course the next car was waved in. The result: some back fires, some turbos releasing air, some spin outs and a whole lot of happy folks.

There was a pretty good diverse display of German engineering on the frozen lake. There was an Audi TT, a few A4's ( one with a missing bumper, more on that soon ), some A6's, S classes and even a very early Audi quattro, the car that revolutionized rally driving and put Audi in the lime light. The cars came in both sedan and avant. And in colors that ranged from red to monster green and everything in between. After a couple of pictures and an explanation from the organizers it was time to run the course!

I decided to run up a snow enbankment to get a better look at the course and hopefully take some good pictures. The first car took off in a plume of white snow, and quickly disappeared past turn 1, only to reappear again somewhere around turn 5. It was then I knew this was going to be just great!

Soon enough it was Åke's turn through the ice maze and he invited me to come along. This was the moment I had been waiting for, never mind the fact that I wasn't behind the wheel. I was just happy to be in his Audi A6 2.7 biturbo all-wheel drive with 230hp boosted to 320hp with the help of silicone in the shape of a chip. The first go around we went through the course with the ESP on. The ESP is the little computer that assists the driver when conditions become poor on the road. Well it turns out, under normal driving conditions you can barely tell when the system is aiding the driver. The adjustments are so minute and quick that the driver is basically unaware.

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