Its wet, wet and a little more wet but that is not stopping a tour of the New Drive Center circuit in the northern City of Skelleftea.
It is raining quite hard and I am in the back of a Subaru Forester finding out why Scandinavians have a knack for driving.
With one hand on the wheel we speed down and open country road like we are Moss and Jinks at the Mille Millia. Taking apex’s on either side of the road, dancing over the wet road and still having a conversation about our destination. The Skelleftea Drive Center.
Soon to be Sweden’s premier race circuit the Drive Center will help put the northern city of Skelleftea firmly on the motorsport map.
As I cling on for self preservation I am given the background on the center and the vision of owner Jan Markland.
A man with a mining background Jan had a passion for Motorsport. Running his own European Rallycross team that in the past featured such names as Mattias Ekström he has owned the land that contains the drive center for many years.
Before the transformation there were two runways for private aircraft, a adverse driving techniques course including a hill section amongst other things The driving course and hill will remain as part of the complex and will be sure to offer superb 360 degree views of the circuit.
We meet Jan in the car park and he invited us into the at present modest cafe building. This of course will soon change to a food court area with a range of local business offering up the best Skellefteån cuisine.
Over coffee he explains that there will be a race driving school featuring Audi R8’s, the STCC Midnight race in June 2019 and a whole raft of events one of which is an expected Scania electric truck demo as part of a larger green energy conference in the city.
The runways will be reduced to one as the other forms part of the circuit. Providing a long straight to which there is a hairpin bend at the end Markland comments ‘this is the largest circuit in Sweden. If someone builds a bigger one I can just make this straight longer’. And he is not joking. With an extra few KM’s to the end of the tarmac there is plenty of scope to move the bend further down the road.
In the pouring rain Jan takes us around the circuit for a lap. The area is in the early stages of construction so not all the tarmac had been laid although the layout is complete.
Although fairly flat the circuit offers a good combination of corners. Wide in parts and narrow in others hints of Hockenheim’s stadium section come to mind. Out of the tight section is a super wide straight. Cars will battle for position here inducing some superb toe to toe action.
Another stand out section comes after the hairpin off the main straight. Cars will hurtle back down on themselves before entering a fast left hand and an almost immediate right. This will be a test of brakes and bravery with the fastest driver taking maximum kerb and more than a little magic fairy driving dust.
It’s not just the circuit itself that will.offer great entertainment. In the works are a range of facilities for the Motorsport fan ranging from log cabins and a huge camping area. This hints of classic circuits such as Le Sarthe and Silverstone where camping and hospitality keep fans entertained and the party going after the race. With the midnight sun race in June for the STCC the party may never end!
Once complete the circuit will be an impressive spectacle with almost endless possibilities for races, concerts and everything in between. There is a feeling of ‘build it and they will come’ about the place and Jan’s drive and passion for Motorsport will make sure the Drive Center weaves its way into European circuit folk law.
The adverse driving course and the hill. The view is quite flat at the moment but by next June that will be a scene full of fans and burning rubber.