There's nothing quite like drifting a Subaru on a frozen Wisconsin lake.
Parts of the country are finally starting to thaw out, but it's still a winter wonderland in Eagle River, Wisconsin. And that's a good thing, because that's where Subaru is currently holding its annual Winter Experience driving school.
Hosted on a frozen lake in Eagle River, the Winter Experience provides the opportunity to learn how to drive rally-style on slippery surfaces in a variety of Subaru vehicles. The driving school is staffed by instructors from the DirtFish rally school, as well as professional rally drivers from Team Subaru, ensuring a top-notch education.
As with most driving schools, the Subaru Winter Driving Experience eases you into things with a few simple exercises. We started out with an emergency braking and lane change exercise before moving on to a slalom course. The school uses Subaru BRZ, WRX and STI models to expose students to a variety of drivetrains and performance levels. All vehicles are fitted with studded tires to provide a baseline of grip out on the frozen lake.
Once familiar with the driving characteristics of each vehicle, students are let loose on vehicle-specific driving course — the BRZ has a dedicated course tailored to its rear-wheel drive layout while a second circuit has been designed with the all-wheel drive of the WRX and STI in mind. Later in the day the school opens a longer rally stage track that's open to all vehicles.
Along the way instructors are available for ride alongs or simply to give advise. All are very knowledgeable and eager to help. And if you prefer a hands-off approach, that's OK too — you can go it alone and simply learn by doing. But we strongly suggest at least a couple ride alongs with the pros as they're valuable resources you rarely have access to. Thanks to their helpful instructions, we definitely left the school as better drivers.
The Subaru Winter Experience is still in its infancy, but the program is showing signs of promise. Right now it's limited to Subaru internals and a handful of customers, but Subaru is eager to get more people out on the ice. Eventually, Subaru could offer the program as an option at the dealer level for customers that want to experience winter rallying and improve their winter driving skills. We'd strongly suggest checking that option box to future Subaru buyers as the school is just as fun as it is educational.
Photos courtesy of Subaru.