As the warmth of the early-morning light glows lazily across the stunning scenery of the frozen lake that is our playground for two days, it highlights the rooster tails of ice thrown up by the short-wheelbase 912 ahead of us. The 914-6 flows into a blissful sideways arc behind it that lasts long enough to be savored – the sideways progress punctured momentarily during the transition from one set of lock stops to the other before normal service is resumed as the 914 balanced on the throttle and steering carves another perfect arc towards the horizon.
The progress and joy of the moment is powered in no small part thanks to the broadest of grins of both driver and passenger, and it is at this point early on the second day of the Below Zero Ice driving course, with my brother at the wheel, that I’m confident that despite the luxury of my position and the myriad of cars I’ve had the fortune to test drive, nothing comes close to this pure driving enjoyment.
With most driving these days blighted in some way by traffic, legislation or overzealous driver assistance systems, Below Zero offers the very purest and most addictive antidote. The purity of driving a range of early 911s on a frozen ice lake, where the only traction control is your right foot and active yaw technology rests in the palm of your hands is, without question, the most fun you can have in a car.
And while the enjoyment and freedom of being able to slide a car with no risk (if you go off – and trust me, you will – you’ll be towed back on by the ever-attentive rescue team and back on the lockstops in moments) is one thing, you’ll also learn more about car control in two days than a lifetime of track days. The progression is rapid. Starting with a simple slalom on button studs in the morning of day one, the speeds build as does the length of the circuits and studs across the mesmerising 48 hours. Until at the end of day two you’re lapping an xx-mile-long course persuading yourself you’ve mastered the art, but confident you’ll need to come back next year to make sure.
As driving experiences goes, it is in my opinion unrivalled in terms of seat time, enjoyment and learning, and as I left this year, I think I’d mastered it, but I’m also confident I need to go back next year, just to check.
Charlie Turner • Editor-in-Chief • Top Gear magazine