Nokian Tyres' testing centre in Spain comes with its own built-in sauna
How beautifully Finnish is that?
Back when travelling was a thing, I've had the opportunity to fly to Ivalo, in the Finnish part of Lapland, to test different types of winter tyres and I've learnt two things: you can't outdrink a Finn, and tyres are the most important thing to think about when driving on rough terrain.
There are over 30 test tracks at Ivalo's 'White Hell' testing centre, but there was this one test that was particularly telling. I drove five front-wheel-drive VW Golfs on an icy track, same exact engine and spec, with five different types of tyres ranging from summer tyres to studded winter tyres and the result was outstanding. The car on summer tyres (below) wouldn't even move, the car on studded tyres soldiered on like it was nothing.
Nokian de-facto invented the winter tyre and they use 'White Hell', this is what they call their location in Ivalo, to test over 20,000 tyres every year. Now they're branching out and they've opened a new location in Santa Cruz de la Zarza, in central Spain, to test summer tyres.
The new testing centre incorporates water recycling (up to 80%) facilities as well as over 1,000 solar panels and, this is rad, white roofs because they apparently create a cooling effect, thus reducing use of air con. Nokian has also implemented a bird nesting programme to preserve the environment in the surroundings of the centre.
The 300-hectare testing area feature 10 tracks, including an oval for high-speed testing with an inclination of 41.3 degrees. Because Nokian is of course a Finnish company, there's also a sauna and, presumably, a lot of vodka to celebrate after you're done with work. Mika Hakkinen-approved.
I can't wait to visit. In the meantime, make sure your car is on the right tyres and more importantly, don't try and outdrink a Finn. I mean it. You can't win.