I was having a slow morning on Saturday, lying in bed and scrolling through Instagram, when I noticed a story from a local racetrack that had a track day event in full swing. Definitely not your average track day though.
In an instant, a quick shot of FOMO swept over me, and I began thinking about how to prepare for the hour-long drive to the Audruring in Pärnu, Estonia. Breakfast? Scrap that… where are my snowboarding trousers? Do I have at least one charged camera battery? No, I have two.
If you’ve never experienced -15°C (5°F), let me just say that it’s not a very comfortable temperature to be outside in. But with a general lack of local car events due to the pandemic, I knew that this would be a great way to spend the day.
The event was being run by Open Track, the top summer track day promoter in Estonia. It was their 63rd event, but quite possibly the first time they’ve ever held one on a snowy track in winter.
There are certain cars you can always count on seeing at summer track days, and at those events Porsche 911s are guaranteed. But what would this event turn up? Naturally, Subaru Impreza WRX STIs and Mitsubishi Lancer Evos were plentiful.
What I didn’t count on seeing were some of those aforementioned 911s, although these weren’t your typical track-day-special GT3s – they were lifted safari machines. Can you really call them safari-style Porsches if they’re out in the snow?
The track was slippery to start with, but after hundreds of laps grip was in short supply. Given how easy it was to slip off the course and crack a bumper (or worse), the owners of more expensive vehicles were definitely taking it easy.
Throughout the day laps were timed, and unsurprisingly a Lancer Evo came out on top of the leaderboard. Second place however went to the driver of a new GR Yaris. It was the first time I had seen one in action, and the gutsy little Toyota looked fabulous out on the snow.
After a couple of hours trackside, I made the trek back to my car and eventually the warmth of my flat. It was great to finally photograph something fresh, actually get some winter sunburn, and enjoy the sort of atmosphere all of us petrol-heads can appreciate – especially after being denied it for so long.