For an unfathomable bunch of reasons, snow sports are about as minor as niche activities get.
Couple that with choosing to travel and tour in a motorhome whilst participating in snow sports, and you’ll find that there are more people globally building tiny pirate ships in miniature rum bottles than there are people in your tribe. That tribe is our tribe. Winterised.
Motor racing is also pretty niche. With the Lewis Hamilton’s and the Ken Block’s of the world filling front, back and home pages, you’d be forgiven for believing that motor racing is a big deal. It’s not. The reason I know this is because after over 15 years working in the sport, I can confirm that pretty much everyone knows everyone or has a mate/colleague who does, and unknown to many, the entire global business that is motorsport is run from a mid-terrace in Paris.
What’s this got to do with snow sports? Everything.
A few years ago whilst slurping a tepid brew under a leaky tent in a field in Northamptonshire, waiting for a break in the monsoon, I was introduced to the crazy concept of the Andros Trophy. Nattering about crappy weather and racing, an OG race mechanic ‘Macca’ told stories of legend – touring car scale scrapping on ice rinks, in the dark. And not just cars. Dirt bikes with studs that wouldn’t look out of place in Christian Grey’s Red Room and some of the world’s greatest race car drivers entering under pseudonyms to hide their true identities.
If you are a motorsports fan and you don’t know about the Andros Trophy, pull up a chair my friend. If you like any type of skiddy-crazy silliness, or have ever been in a bumper car, or crazy cart you’re going to want to put this on your bucket list.
What is the Andros Trophy?
Mental. MAF. A little bit silly. Also, the simplest concoction of man versus machine versus mountain that you could dream up. Ok so the cars are a bit special. Just like rally and touring cars, they look fairly normal – nothing you’d be surprised to find in the Sports Direct Car Park on a Friday night – but there’s a bit more going on than a body kit and some fancy stickers. Side wipers for a start. SIDE WIPERS. And that’s all you need to know. Andros Trophy is mostly a sideways sport. And the bikes. I don’t know anything about bikes but these riders are a whole new level of daft.
The competition is simple – 2 qualifying sessions and a finale. Sometimes in the dark. Often snowing. Always entertaining. One more thing – ALL ELECTRIC Racing.
7 Ice Circuits
The calendar takes a similar format each year, touring the mountains from December to the end of January or early February, in 2021, ending in Super Besse. Every one of these venues has a nearby aire or winter campsite.
Andros Trophy 20/21
|1||Val Thorens||5-6 December|
|3||Isola 2000||8-9 January|
|4||Serre Chevalier||16-17 January|
|5||Lans en Vercors||22-23 January|
|6||Super Besse||30 January|
Andros Trophy at Serre Chevalier
When on our season long tour of the Alps, we had intended to catch a few of the sporting spectacles that set up camp in the mountains in winter but between the Beast from the East, Storm Eleanor and Jean Claude Damn Van, some of those plans were thwarted. We did however risk life and limb to cross the Col du Lautaret in a blizzard to attend to 2018 Andros Trophy at Circuit de Serre Chevalier. It was worth it.
With 4 metric tonnes of snow falling per minute, the night qualifying atmosphere was a cross between carnival and the taking of the North Wall.
We made the 10 minute trundled down from the brilliantly positioned aire at Le Bez in town to the Circuit de Serre Chevalier. Night sessions were already in full swing and the heavy snow fall was making the sounds coming from these cars and bikes sound epic. As with the very best motor racing events, the paddock area is open to the public, allowing you to poke your nose into awnings to see what’s going on. Save for the snow shovelling and impressive buffets (unsurprisingly not your usual CostCo set up), you’d be mistaken for thinking you were at Brands Hatch. Lots of gaffa tape holding rainbow liveried Audi’s, Opels and Mercs together. Lots of big hammers and lots of hunkering around monitors and TVs.
We walked the circuit, not really having a clue who was up next but sucking up the ambiance, knowing that with a running order and a flask of vin chaud, this would have rival any F1 event.
Why you should stick the Andros Trophy on your to do list when touring in your campervan or motorhome
That’s a rarity in Ski resorts. If you’re looking for a night or day out that’ll at most cost you a slice of pizza and a beer, this one’s for you. For those mixing up their mountain sports this is a great ‘rest day’ that doesn’t involve sitting in a bar all day, watching Netflix or doing your laundry.
There were hundreds of kids in tow at this event and the accessible nature of the paddock means that smalls can get up close with wide-eyed wonder. A secondary perk of taking kids to these events is that they bust through language barriers like bulldozers. You want a Instagram pic with there real life renegades? Pick yourself up a child and waltz right over!
It’ll take you places.
If you’re pitching for a week or more in one place and you want to see the Andros Trophy, Serre Chevalier or Andorra are probably your best bet. However, if you’re on tour and you fancy some of the smaller ski staions – Super Besse, Lans en Vercors or Isola – this might just provide your raison d’etre.
How they could improve the Andros Trophy
More crappy event catering.
We were somewhat disappointed by the lack of soggy churros or road-kill burgers.
As popular as this event is, it wasn’t really publicised outside of the very local area. This is every motorsports fans idea of a cracking night out and would certainly appeal to Brits who flock to Serre Chevalier in their school trip sized droves. Did we mention – it’s free?
I think even native French speakers will struggle with the Murray Walker-esque commentary that booms out over the tonoi system. Or perhaps an event app would be a helpful addition.
Top Tips for attending an Andros Trophy Event
- Wrap up. As with most racing events, the likelihood of getting foot rot is very high. Take layers and really comfy boots. We were knee high in powder in some areas as they simply couldn’t keep on top of the clearing.
- Build a bench. Unlike at a British event, you do not have to bring folding chairs and wind breakers. You can build your own seats from snow around the circuits so just bring a waterproof picnic blanket.
- Buy some merch. This event is a passion project and whilst it has got sponsors, it’s run on a tight budget. Anything you can do to support the teams, organisers and traders goes a long way and who doesn’t want an Trophée Andros bobble hat?
If you want to know more about the Andros Trophy – visit Trophée Andros for the latest news and the calendar reveal!