ST. MORITZ, Switzerland — When most people think of the luxury alpine resort town of St. Moritz in Switzerland’s Engadin valley, they imagine serene log cabins, skiing that’s challenging for Olympians and heated pools overlooking one of the most pristine mountain ranges in the world. But for two days a year in February, the small town becomes a rumbling, gasoline-scented race venue for the ultrawealthy and their one-of-kind vintage cars.
It all began when founder Marco Makaus witnessed a group of tourists attending the Cresta Run, an annual toboggan race, in 1985. The tourists rode into St. Moritz in vintage Bentleys, and it sparked the interest of everyone there. Makaus said the unforgettable image of countless vintage cars speeding on a frozen lake stuck with him for many years.
Fast-forward to 2019, Makaus re-created the event he saw in the 1980s by founding the International Concourse of Elegance (ICE), a European racing event that takes place on the frozen lake of St. Moritz. After holding a test edition of the race in 2019, Makaus knew it was a success. This year, the ultraluxury event drew 11,000 attendees and car owners from all over the world.
The event begins with quality checks on the lake in the days leading up to the race. As soon as the ice reaches a minimum thickness of 10 inches, crash tests are carried out with weights of nearly 17,000 pounds by driving a 7,500-pound snow-track vehicle fitted with safety floats. After that, the lake is cleared for the construction of the event village that includes a bar and a skating rink where drinks are delivered by professional figure skaters.
Most attendees share a similar interest in rare cars. One car that grabbed the attention of many of the attendees was the Pagani Huayra Codalunga supercar. The vehicle is estimated to be worth roughly $7.4 million; only five exist in the world today. The car boasts a 840 horsepower engine created by Mercedes-AMG. The vehicle was brought to St. Moritz by its owner for display only.
Simon Kidston, a British commentator and car expert, attended with his Bugatti Type 35. The car previously belonged to his uncle and after selling the vehicle many years ago, Kidston crossed continents to find the car and bring it home. For him, racing and presenting his uncle’s car has little to do with the monetary value of the vehicle. “The value [of the race] is profoundly sentimental, that’s why I’m excited to be here,” he said.