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Swedish-born Subaru rally driver brings ice racing experience to Eagle RiverSubmitted: 02/23/2018
Story By Lane Kimble

Swedish-born Subaru rally driver brings ice racing experience to Eagle River
EAGLE RIVER - Blink and you might miss him.  Patrik Sandell tends to understate things, but flying around on a frozen lake, sometimes at 100 miles per hour, is simply "normal" for him.

"I've been flying out here," Sandell said.  "For me, this is how I grew up."

Sandell learned to drive race cars under similar conditions as a youngster in Sweden.  The 35-year-old joined Subaru Rally Team USA and wanted to bring his ice driving experience to the states.  The racing style means drifting a car at high speeds through a curvy ice track.


"When you come to the apex in the middle of a corner you have a straight car and you can just accelerate out. It's very simple," Sandell said with a laugh.

For the last 10 days, Sandell and other drivers have taught race fans from around the country the basics for $1,400 a day on Dollar Lake in Eagle River.

"I guess for everybody that lives up here as well, that you go out on a frozen lake and ice fish, but maybe not drifting around cars with 400 studs per tire," Sandell said.

Sandell and his racing program, Flatout Sweden, had specific criteria for a U.S. location: a private lake, nearby hotel, airport, and good dining options. The Chanticleer Inn could check them all off.

"We're lucky it's good, solid ice," Inn co-owner Jake Alward said.

Alward is no stranger to hosting big events. He just wrapped up the resort's largest-ever adult pond hockey tournament in early February, then quickly shaped slalom and rally courses on the same ice.

"It's a real thrill," Alward said of riding with Sandell.

Alward estimates about 130 people have come to Vilas County for the classes, from Seattle to Florida and everywhere in between.

"That's what we're here for, is to be able to take care of people, show them a good experience, and hopefully they'll come back to Chanticleer and Eagle River," Alward said.

In just a few days, the cars and tracks will disappear -- almost as fast as Sandell drives -- but if you missed him this time, don't worry, Sandell wants to come back.

"All the clients from all over America have been over-the-moon happy, so that makes my job very easy," Sandell said.

Alward says they've already set dates for next year. Sandell wants to make this an annual event in Eagle River.

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