One would have to believe that is one downright handy skill to have grooved should your side window unexpectedly became perpendicular to the road. Understanding the dynamics of a full-on automotive ice slide is the focus of this unique driver training opportunity, although a totally revamped perspective of all your driving abilities is the overall benefit.
Retired professional racer Tino Aaltonen is the head instructor for the Arctic Driving Experience. Tino is the third generation of racing drivers in the Aaltonen family. The Aaltonen Motorsport training courses are based on the unique training methods created by Tino's father, Rauno Aaltonen, Rauno is a motorsports legend (see Finnish K&N Importer Aaltonen Motorsport - Created by Three Generations of Racing).
Drivers from around the world travel to Finland to participate in the unique snow and ice driving school.
Rauno Aaltonen began his coaching career while he was still professionally competing in rallies and races. A group of prominent German racers, respecting Rauno's often completely original driving techniques, asked whether he would provide them with training and coaching. This was in the early ‘70's, during the period that Finnish rally drivers ruled the rally world.
The popularity and success of that program grew exponentially each year. In 1991 Tino introduced the first winter weather specific driver training course called the Aaltonen Arctic Driving Experience. The annual event is held in eastern Finland, at the breathtaking Tahkovuori winter sport resort. The course used during the training is on an actual frozen lake in the middle of untouched, pristine Finnish nature. The Arctic Driving Experience is known for the extensive practical training, the theory portion of the training is very comprehensive, although as brief as possible. Aaltonen's philosophy has long been that driving is something you learn by doing - not by studying.
"Our participants come from all over the world, they are truly an international group. Most guests do not have the chance to really ever experience the limits of their car, nor their own limits and reactions. The Aaltonen Arctic Driving Experience improves their abilities on both the race track and in tricky situations on normal roads," says Tino.
"We coach in groups, with the emphasis of the training set on individualism. The course participants are divided into very small groups, which are based on their individual skill levels and target goals. Therefore, we are very close to delivering a one-on-one coaching experience. All drivers have areas where their skills are less developed than others. Even top drivers have weak areas. Because of our many years of experience, we can quickly diagnose those areas and address them. It is all about the maximum learning experience in a minimum of time."
The training begins with basic car control maneuvers and advances towards more difficult performance driving tasks. In order to maximize car control at the very limits of high speeds, the MINI Coopers are equipped with ice rally tires. At the end of the training, participants get the opportunity to pit their newly acquired race skills against the clock on the closed course, to discover who truly is the champion of the ice track learning experience.
The cars used for the training have several specific modifications to ensure the ultimate performance during the challenging winter conditions. "Not many people understand the problems air filters encounter. The filter has to work equally well in the searing heat and dust, as well as in the arctic cold, both in dry and very, very wet circumstances," explains Tino.
"We found out back in the 50's about unexpected problems during the winter with the paper filters. The snow melted on the warm paper filter and the humidity reduced the airflow through the filter. Wet paper can be airtight. We did a lot of development with filters, because you need full-power to win a race."
"With K&N Filters on all our training cars there's no need for further testing or experimentation. They are already tested and we know they will be totally reliable, both for ideal power, endurance and fuel consumption. This saves us time so we can stay focused on our work coaching our students," summarizes Tino.
The Aaltonen Arctic Driving Experience runs from Dec. 30, 2009 until Jan. 31, 2010 at Louhosareena in Nilsiä, Finland. The course then continues on frozen Tahko Lake until the end of March.
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