Bentley, Ferrari and Mazda Take to the Ice

February 28th, 2011

Mazda MX-5 ice race

“Hey, did you hear a 20-year-old rookie won the Daytona 500!?”

The phone call came from a friend last week within minutes of Trevor Bayne’s unlikely victory. I couldn’t even pretend to be interested.

“Oh, was that today? I don’t really follow NASCAR.”

In fact, not being from Virginia or North Carolina, I don’t even like NASCAR racing, much less follow it. That’s not to say I don’t like any car racing – I do. I’m a fan of F1, and partly thanks to this massively cold winter, I’ve become a huge fan of ice racing.

The vacant iced-over twisty roads near my house have provided untold numbers of power slides and plenty of practice perfecting my corner-taking skills on ice. Apparently some top dogs in the auto world have been smitten with the snow this year too, outfitting their wares with the latest in ice-defeating technology and flinging them around on frozen tundra.

First, Ferrari has released images of its new FF, the gorgeous AWD shooting brake, tearing up snowy roads and making me wish my 143-hp car pumped out something closer to the FF’s 660.

Bentley didn’t just want to race on ice for show, it wanted to set a new ice-speed record. It succeeded with a slightly modified Continental Supersports that blasted across the frozen surface of the Baltic Sea at 205.48 miles per hour. That’s an insane speed on dry pavement, and for the jaunt across the frozen sea ice, Bentley outfitted the 6.0-liter V12 AWD Supersports with a roll cage, Pirelli SottoZero II 275/40R20 winter tires, a rear-bumper-mounted parachute, and front and rear spoilers to provide optimum high-speed stability for the treacherous conditions.

Finally, in the kind of race that really should be televised on a Sunday afternoon in February, Mazda just finished a race in Sweden in which 20 MX-5 roadsters powered through four hours of fast, frozen action on the ice.

Amateur racers from around the world braved -24 degree F temps (in convertibles, no less!) to see who could complete the 3-mile course the most times in the four-hour time limit. It should come as no surprise to learn that a team from famously frigid Russia took home the trophy.

Racing cars on ice is way more exciting than a NASCAR race, don’t you think?

-tgriffith

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