Ice is nice for drivers

Cardrona's Snow Park is getting a make-over designed to appeal to amateur drivers who fancy tackling roads caked with ice and snow.

Packages including driving tuition, on-field accommodation and food are being advertised for $2249 per person this winter.

The Snow Park was established in 2002 by the Lee family to cater for freestyle skiers and snowboarders. Last year the family sold it to nearby Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds, which already offered winter driving facilities to international car companies and their professional test drivers.

General manager Shaun Gilbertson said some amateur drivers - ''general Joe Blow publics'' - had been given the chance to try their skills on the test tracks at the end of each car-testing season but now the company was intent on turning the ice-driving experience into a fully-fledged, all-winter operation.

''What we are going to do now is use the Snow Park as a designated venue for it.''

The company's website is advertising a ''premium ice-driving experience'' in Audi cars. It says it is the only such opportunity available in the southern hemisphere and the only one in the world during July and August.

''It's just such a unique product and people want to have a go at it,'' Mr Gilbertson said.

A ''minimal amount'' of earthworks had been required to flatten a 300m by 50m section of the Snow Park's public car park.

Drivers will be able to drift around a snow circle or slalom track and will be timed over an autocross course.

''Instructors will guide you through a range of activities that will teach you how to get your car sideways, control the slide, then get your traction and control safely back,'' the website says.

The day of ice-driving ends with a ''hot lap'' with an expert instructor at the wheel.

The proving ground has retained the Snow Park's skiing facilities but has restricted their use to corporate groups and professional ski and snowboard teams.