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Flying high with the founder of Lapland Ice Driving, Eric Gallardo

  • Inspiration
  • By Ellena Rowlin
  • Published 04 March 2019
  • Revised 03 January 2024
  • Published 04 March 2019
  • Revised 03 January 2024

We caught up with the founder of Lieu Lapland Ice Driving, Eric Gallardo, to find out what it really takes to run the world’s largest driving centre… and one that’s on ice. 

From January to March, the magnificent Lake Udjaur in Lapland crystallises and is transformed into a 2,965-acre drifting area for a completely unique motorsports experience – Ice Driving. A fleet of the world’s most exciting supercars are specially prepared to travel at whirlwind speeds while kicking up fluffy white powder after every drift. With more than 30 miles of track between 13 circuits, including replicas of four legendary Formula 1 tracks, this really is a game of numbers: the main question being how fast can you go on a frozen lake in the middle of Lapland?

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Where did this idea come from?

I started as a car tester in 1989, handling for companies like BMW and Porsche, where I eventually got to instructor level, overseeing all the car testers for the General Motors group. It was here I was teaching them how to drive on ice and that’s when I got this great idea. I quit GM in 1999 and started my own racing school back in France, but I always had in mind that one day I would start an ice driving activity. The racing school went really well, and I decided to start this ice driving idea properly in 2006.

Why this location?

Arjeplog really is the heart of the European car industry in winter. This is where all the big names like BMW and Porsche have their winter test centres. I’ve known this little town since 1989 because it’s where I was based when I was a vehicle test engineer, so when I started the ice driving, I knew a lot of people who could be key players in helping me to build the business. I knew all the rules and the people of this town, so it was the obvious choice of location for me to start. The main challenge actually came four years in because after using GM’s test facility (they allowed me to use their track after being their first driver for many years) they decided to move to Alaska so I had to bring on financial partners in this adventure with me so I could take over the contract alone. Deciding to upscale this idea was definitely the biggest challenge for me. 

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How have you seen the company grow?

In the first year it was just one car and one participant then the next year it was two participants, then two more and it kept doubling itself. Before I knew it, the eight participants were 17, then the year after the 17 were 33, then the year after I had 60. With more and more cars and instructors, I made the decision to sell my driving school in France so I could really concentrate entirely on the ice driving. We continued growing and growing, and now we have a fleet of 28 cars from Lamborghini to Ferrari, Maserati to Subaru’s and more. This winter we’re looking at around 600 clients!

What kind of variables do you have to consider when driving on this terrain?
About nine months of our year is spent doing preparation and three months is spent in operation. Of course, while administrative and commercial is one side, from the technical point of view, we have to specially prepare our cars for ice driving and integrate new models, and every single electronic must be disconnected.

What kind of clients does Lapland Ice Driving attract?

Most of our clientele is high-end, and in terms of experience, we receive drivers from absolute beginners all the way up to F1 drivers. What interests them about us is that we can drive very, very powerful cars, specially prepared for the ice. You can drive at a very high speed, completely safely because there are no walls, no trees, no raises, so even at 200kmph you will finish in soft snow - nothing bad can happen and this is what is so appealing to people. 

No matter the expertise of our clients, they are always petrolheads, and people who absolutely love to own and drive sportscars in their spare time. Normally they frequent track days, but when they see an advert for us, they see something completely new, which looks extremely fun and safe. We now have people coming from all over the world, including New Zealand, Brazil, South Africa and America! 

Do you have any VIP clients?

I can say that we’ve had some members of the Royal Family and we’ve also had a very well-known F1 driver. We also have a lot of famous actors.

Why did you choose the F1 tracks that you have?

When I started to decide on reproducing my first F1 track, at the time my clientele was 100 percent French, which is why we chose Le Mans. Then we started having some English drivers, so we produced Silverstone. We tend to follow the nationalities of our clients, making sure the shape is interesting to drive on ice, and that we are copying a circuit with no raises seeing as we are working with very flat terrain. Our newest is the Yas Marina circuit because we see a lot of people coming from the Middle East.

How do you teach visitors to master ice driving?

Usually we get groups of people, who first do a one-to-one private lesson with one of our professional instructors. We have a variety of practise tracks from small to medium to large, with both oval and circle shaped circuits. This allows you to really understand how a car reacts on the ice and what you should and shouldn’t do. As soon as you’re ready and you’re understanding how a car behaves then we take you to our F1 tracks, which are all reproduced to Scale 1, where most of our clients drive around 160 miles per day out on the circuit. It really is great fun to have full control of a powerful car drifting around the ice.

What do customers enjoy most about this experience?

We pride ourselves in having 100 percent of our clients satisfied. Everyone says that even though they anticipated the experience to be fun it always exceeds their expectations, and 75 percent of our clients come back. In terms of cars, the favourite has got to be the Porsche 911 TT3, which we have five of! It’s a great sports car and everyone knows that this car should be incredible to drive on ice… which is completely true, it is!

Finally do you have any exciting developments coming up?

We’re really excited to announce that by next year we’ll reproduce an Asian F1 track, because we’re now seeing a huge portion of our clientele coming from that part of the world. We’ll also change our Ferrari 458 to the 488, renew our fleet of Subarus and integrate 4WD Porsches and some BMW M4 vehicles. 

Put the pedal to the metal

To find out more about Lapland Ice Driving and how to plan your next unique sports car expedition, contact one of our personal travel managers on 0203 816 0985 or visit to find that last bit of inspiration.

Winged Boots is a sports travel management company and our team of sports travel agents are experienced in organising all aspects of once-in-a-lifetime trips. Our dedicated in-house concierge Claire Baker will ensure your getaway is seamless from beginning to end, while our expert team of personal travel managers promise to organise the most suitable itinerary that suits you and your parties schedules, for the very best price. 

Tagged: Europe
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