2000 pilots. 350 races. Thousands of spectators... The figures for the largest 100% electric car race on ice are dizzying. Since 1990, every winter, Max Mamers and his caravan have gone from summit to snow-covered summit to install the Andros Trophy.
LE FIGARO. – The Andros Trophy adventure ends in Super-Besse?
Max MAMERS. – Thirty-five editions are much more than an adventure. I would say it’s a beautiful, accomplished life story.
What state of mind are you in?
Calm because it was my decision that was made five years ago. It's not an accident.
Why is the Andros Trophy stopping?
He doesn't stop. Maybe it's just an interruption... Who knows? But, it is clear that our raw material which is ice is no longer there. Compared to the end of the 1990s, we lost 15 days of cold and snow in December. It is a fact. Global warming has accelerated a decision that we did not dare to make…
That's to say...
Innovation has always been my credo and, for me, running is about pushing the limits, at all levels. Motor racing has always made it possible to develop products for the general public. Just look: in the late 19th century, the first races were hills to climb. We had to get as high as possible. In the early 20th century, when everyone got to the top, whoever finished fastest won. We, along with the manufacturers, took part in this race by participating in the energy transition. In 2009, we experienced a first change, with a transition from thermal to all-electric. The Andros Trophy has become the world's first 100% electric car race on ice.
And what would have been the next evolution for the Trophy?
I think the new cycle will be cars running 100% on hydrogen.
And it was impossible to continue?
To commit to ten years, we needed assurance that the climatology would be favorable to us. This January 27, we will be in Super-Besse and there is no snow. Do you have the answer.
How did this crazy ice racing idea come about 35 years ago?
When I was a driver, the winter season was a time without events for the rally-cross championship. I was frequently invited to take part in ice races in Chamonix or Serre-Chevalier. Although spectacular and publicized, they lacked formal organization. With my friend Frédéric Gervoson, we considered creating a real competition including stages, points and a ranking. And, as during the winter, with the exception of the Dakar, no other races were offered, the Andros Trophy offered the opportunity to drive in difficult, sometimes extreme conditions. For 35 years, a bit like the Tour de France, we were the winter party that brought life to all the resorts we passed through.
Do you remember where you were on Saturday January 27, 1990 during the first test?
Like it was yesterday! I was on the starting grid behind the wheel of the official BMW 325 iX. But I must admit that as an organizer, my mind was elsewhere. And my lifelong friend and co-founder of the event, Frédéric Gervoson, owner of Andros, was also on the line. From memory, I believe he was behind the wheel of his Visa 1000 Pistes.
And if you had to hang a piece of music on the Trophy, which one would you choose?
He's free Max.
Let's leaf through the book of 35 years of the Andros trophy. What is your best memory?
I have many but I would like to highlight three. First, having introduced ice to drivers like Alain Prost who was an asphalt specialist and who didn't like sliding. He told me he wouldn't leave until he won the Andros Trophy. He won it three times! I also think of Sébastien Loeb who came on the ice to discover a new surface and who amazed us with his conduct. In second position, I'm going to slide two tied. On the one hand our first competition at the Stade de France, in 1999. It was a fabulous spectacle and on the same step of the podium I would like to salute the ten victories of Yvan Muller. Finally, on the third step of my Pantheon, I am very proud and happy to have, with All-Electric, contributed to the energy transition.
And the worst?
On reflection, I only keep the good times. But I think my worst memory was when I couldn't organize a show race. I inevitably think back to the two avalanches we experienced. The first in 1991 in Val-Thorens, where several meters of snow fell in 48 hours. Helicopters could not fly. The Orsec plan (a crisis management system, Editor's note) had been triggered and we canceled the event. And the second was in 1997 in Isola 2000. We were stuck for three days and three nights.
The Trophy and all the teams that I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart for their dedication organized more than 350 races... and only three had to be canceled. Each time it is the weather and climatic conditions that block us. Yesterday there was too much snow and today it's dramatic. Everything is ready, everyone is present but we cannot run because there is no snow or because it is not cold enough.
And if we had to do it again…
No hesitation, I would write the same story.
You have always imagined new concepts. Where will we find you next season?
Perhaps as a weather engineer to encourage colder and snowier conditions...
A word to conclude...
There is no sadness. On the contrary, let us rejoice in these 35 wonderful seasons.