Exactly when the first Sami people came to Arvidsjaur seeking rich fishing-waters, is not known. We can assume, however, that they probably wouldn’t have been able to picture the high-tech, horse-powered monsters that today race upon the lakes at 200 kph. The man behind this development is Jan Edvardsson, the country lad who became friends with some of the world’s foremost sports car manufacturers.

Just like many other inland villages in northern Sweden, Arvidsjaur has a history of forestry and reindeer breeding. This image has partly been cemented and is often used to erroneously describe not just Arvidsjaur but other places in this part of the country as well.

Sure, the history of this place is important; still today both the reindeer and the forest have their roles in the economy of this district. The big difference is that the reindeer keepers of today fly helicopters and stay in touch using Facebook. Another example of how the evolution of technology dramatically has changed life here is that visitors and residents alike have access to a mobile Internet connection far superior to that of many European capitals.

Nevertheless, proximity to nature, vast expanses and the simplicity in all small things remain characteristic for communities like Arvidsjaur. It is a combination that creates fantastic conditions, according to Jan Edvardsson.

“It’s so simple to get things done here, I don’t know how many times we’ve opened the Pharmacists in the middle of the night,” Jan explains when we meet him outside the newly inaugurated Clarion Hotel in Arvidsjaur.

In total Exclusive Car Events has over 80 kilometres of ice racing track located on four different lakes close to Arvidsjaur. One of the tracks is an exact replica of the famous German F1 racetrack Hockenheimring.
Jan Edvardsson (to the left) is talking to the instructor Nico Bastian. Nico is a 23 year-old racing driver from Germany who competes for Mercedes AMG in the GT3-class.
The Porsche cars swish by on the ice, framed by the winter landscape of Norrbotten. Now and then the drivers make a pit stop and get instructions from the German instructors of the European Speed Club.
As a reporter I find it interesting that the most Porsche-dense place I’ve ever been to is a frozen lake in Arvidsjaur.
In a short time the old villa Jägmästarbostaden has been transformed into a hotel of finer sort. The old style has been preserved, however.

The ice and the climate brings Europe to Arvidsjaur

Jan, born in the small mining town of Boliden, has a long history in both the hotel business and the car testing business, including eleven years of work in Arjeplog, a neighbouring county to Arvidsjaur. In 2013 he brought his personal network of contacts from the car industry to Arvidsjaur – a career change that suited his tastes.

“In Arjeplog I almost exclusively worked with car testing. Testing of new car models and equipment, that sort of thing. Here in Arvidsjaur, the focus lies more on car events,” says Jan.

Jan works for Exclusive Car Events, the company behind the recent investments in Arvidsjaur. The two most important qualities here are the ice and the climate, which together with the newly built hotel contribute to the overall concept that the company offers its clients.

“What makes us unique is that we deliver an overall solution; all our customers need is a contact who takes care of everything from ice tracks and catering to accommodations and everything else needed for their stay. Another important factor is the proximity to the airport.”

It’s a cool facility and a cool part of the world

During the winter half of the year (yes, winter is that long up here) Arvidsjaur airport hosts direct flights to the four German cities of Hahn, Stuttgart, Hanover and Munich. The number of departures to each destination varies between three and six per week. Jan describes the airport as a central part of “car tourism”, since the customers have high demands concerning availability and time-effective solutions.

“They can land at the airport and be ready for work at the ice track ten minutes later, that means a lot. We take care of their luggage and have it brought to their hotel rooms. That way they don’t lose time to bus rides and things like that,” Jan explains.

Undoubtedly, Jan is deeply passionate about the ice tracks and gives prominence to them as the most important part of the company’s operations. All in all, Exclusive Car Events have four different ice tracks which together stretch 80 kilometres. Ten employees work exclusively with track maintenance.

Among the four ice tracks, one distinguishes itself from the others. The track in question is actually a replica of Hockenheimring – a German racetrack for F1. In order to make the replica as exact as possible, the company had to ask for help from Lantmäteriet, a ministry that demarcates land and property boundaries.

A swarm of Porsche cars swish by on the frozen lake

On the day we meet Jan, one of his principal clients – a German society called European Speed Club – is hosting a competition for over 20 German Porsche fans. These German visitors have been to Arvidsjaur before, and on this day they’ve returned to enjoy high speed racing in a winter landscape that would have fit in any fairy tale.

As we arrive at the racetrack, a swarm of Porsche cars, model 996, swish by on the frozen lake. The intense blue of their paint matches that of the clear sky and the sun is shining – it’s not particularly hard to guess why these German tourists have chosen to come back to Arvidsjaur.

In the driveway to the pit lane of the track stands a young man who looks very much at home in this context. He is Nico Bastian, a 23-year old race driver from Germany who also works as an instructor for the European Speed Club.

Nico tells us that for the last four years he has worked in Arjeplog and Arvidsjaur from January to March. He adds that he is used to travelling, so even though he has to be away from family and friends he likes it here.

“It’s a cool facility and a cool part of the world,” he says.

What do you do in your spare time?

“I don’t have much spare time but I really like to ride snowmobile. If I had a house in Arvidsjaur I would definitely have a snowmobile,” he laughs.

The young racer has had a meteoric career. He started with go-carts – today he holds a contract with Mercedes AMG. When Nico gets behind the wheel and tackles the course himself, it becomes obvious that the young German knows how to drive a car.

Earlier, Jan told us about his more modest career in racing. And even though he never got as far as Nico as a driver, his contacts in the racing world have meant a lot.

“In the world of car sports, your reputation travels fast via word-to-mouth. I have done almost no marketing during all my years in the business. For the most part, it’s about relationships,” Jan tells us.

Exclusive Car Events has a solid list of clients with brands such as Volkswagen, Audi, Aston Martin and – via different partners – Porsche and Lamborghini. Jan tells us that despite his great car interest he doesn’t raise his eyebrows at the top-class cars that race around his tracks. They have become a natural part of his everyday life.

Locales that once were built for educating forest machine drives today hold what is probably the largest collection of sports cars in northern Sweden.
The instructors are spread out around the course and stay in contact with each other and the drivers via radio.
When it’s time for competition it’s important not to get too stressed – otherwise you’ll probably end up off track.
To oversteer or skid is an entirely new technique for those who haven’t driven on slippery surfaces before.
Just like on the German Autobahn there are no speed limits on the ice racing tracks. The difference here is that the run-off areas are nearly infinite and covered in soft snow.

Exclusive Car Events is a full service supplier that arranges events, provides accommodation, restaurant services, tailor made ice tracks, snowmobile tours and other special arrangements. Find out more by visiting exclusivecarevents.se.

How fast have you driven on the ice yourself?

“I think I’ve gone 210 or 220 kph but it’s not the speed straight ahead that is the thing. The most fun is competing against the German instructors,” he says.

We’ve heard that all the instructors are professional racers, how do you match up against them?

“Very well, very well! But I’ve promised not to tell anyone that I beat them, that would destroy their image,” laughs Jan.

Even though a large part of the car events is about horsepowers and high speeds, the risks of injury are very low. Soft snowdrifts make up the outer boundaries of the tracks and the run-off areas beyond are nearly infinite.

“I’ve been doing this for eleven years and I’ve never heard of anyone who has hurt themselves. Sure, many skid off the track now and then but that is part of the experience,” Jan says.

Is that something you usually encourage, testing the limits?

“Absolutely, we sort of live by the motto ‘if you have the car under control you’re not going fast enough.”

As we head back to the hotel Jan speaks of how it happened when the company began to establish itself in Arvidsjaur. Representatives of Aston Martin visited the town and were charmed by an impressive old villa in town called ‘Jägmästarbostaden’, which has once belonged to the town’s forest officer.

“It just so happened that the villa was for sale, so I brought the people from Aston Martin and they were immediately completely sold on it.”

The ball was rolling and soon the fine villa began transforming into a hotel of the more luxurious sort. According to Jan, the history of the place is an important ingredient for many guests and Jägmästarbostaden – which was built in 1893 – has a whole lot to tell.

One such story is about the unusual trees that surround the hotel. The trees are the result of a scientific experiment where different varieties of trees, normally considered exotic for Arvidsjaur, have been planted for research purposes.

Travelling 308 kilometres for a bottle of perfume

After having spent a day with Jan covering conversation topics ranging from top-class cars to the trees outside the hotel, we do not doubt for a second that he is fiercely passionate about his mission.

What drives you in your work?

“To make people happy and to get immediate response. I don’t have the patience to wait several years to get a result, in this line of work you get to know immediately if you haven’t done a great job or if there’s something we have to become better at,” Jan tells us.

Another thing Jan paints himself as passionate about is service, something that according to him is the single most important part of the role as host of Exclusive Car Events has.

“Presence and service is extremely important, you have to be available as long as the guests are awake. Sometimes I have to act as an electrician in the middle of the night, or travel to Luleå and buy perfume for some guest who’s forgotten his own at home,” says Jan.

To sum up the experience of the business that Jan and his colleagues run, one can safely say the feeling is that things are happening here – a lot is going on in Arvidsjaur. People are talking in different languages; one group after another visits the cozy, slightly old-fashioned restaurant.

The business in its entirety is just a couple of months old – what is the next step?

“First we need to fill up all the rooms we have in Arvidsjaur, here and at the other hotel, Laponia. After that I would like to se us build another hotel,” Jan says.

Can you tell us other exciting things about the future?

“We have a collaboration with an international snowmobile brand in the works, that’s all I can say for now,” Jan concludes.

We say our goodbyes, step into the car and drive down the sloping gravel road that takes us back into town. In the rear-view mirror we can make out the beautiful old wooden villa, framed by the obligatory avenue of birches.

For someone who hasn’t been here, it’s hard to understand what a unique meeting place for people and sports cars from every corner of the world that hides here in Arvidsjaur.

Aston Martin ice performance in Arvidsjaur, Swedish Lapland

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