Spanning over more than 1,700 acres, the Ivalo Testing Center, or as they call it, “White Hell,” is the place where Finland’s snow tire maker, Nokian Tyres, tests their winter tires in extreme conditions, using over 20 different snowy or icy test tracks, including the world largest indoor ice rink.
Over the Arctic circle, deep in the Laplandic forests hides the testing complex—the biggest and most complex facility in the winter tire industry, and this photo below shows only a fraction of it.
Aerial photo: Nokian Tyres
(Full disclosure: Nokian wanted to show us what they and their Hakkapeliitta R2 winter tire can do at White Hell so much, that they flew us to Lapland to their test range, dropped me into deep snow while Jalopnik’s Máté Petrány and his test pilot drove around and around drifting sideways like lunatics. Against all my expectations the cold was bearable, the food awesome, and the landscape just simply breathtakingly beautiful.)
Here’s a view of the road to the test facility.
The gate of White Hell. Workers can open it from a distance, dialing a phone number.
A Volkswagen Golf GTI equipped with snow plowers.
During the countless test rides they compare their own products to the competitors’ tires.
One of the test tracks
On the several meters thick ice of a frozen lake.
Driving on ice. “These guys go way beyond the grip limit on a daily basis,” says Máté.
Snow groomer (aka piste basher) for serious snow removing and manipulating.
Weather station near an icy test circle.
After every test run comes the groomer, to restore the snow, providing equal testing conditions for every tires.
Close up of the insect-like face of a snow weary piste basher.
Car consuming landscape.
Petri Paananen, handling driver, a Vbox performance meter, lap timer and data-logger (in the left corner of the windshield) and other super accurate devices in his test car do the same things over and over again until they end up with consistent results.
Far away is a very long building.
Which is actually an almost 3300 feet long hangar.
Which hides the longest indoor ice track I have ever seen.
They can still test tires on this lengthy artificial ice track when weather is too harsh outside.
Steel and ice in unity.
I would like to skate at high speed all day long here.
Testing in a mild blizzard.
A long snow handling track prepared for testing.
Tracks in the snow.
Leaving White Hell.
Twelve o’clock over the Arctic circle.
Low noon, long shadows, golden snow. Lapland.
(Photo: Attila Nagy/Gizmodo)