Dirk Auer is always looking for new ways to go fast.
His preferred mode of transportation is a pair of rollerskates — and a jetpack.
Germany’s answer to Evel Knievel, Auer is famous in his homeland for rollerskating while being pulled by drag racers, motorbikes and helicopters.
He’s also raced a base-jumper down the side of a skyscraper on his skates.
This month, the Fulda Challenge brought Auer to Whitehorse to generate a little publicity for the event, by doing a few speed stunts — with a wintry theme.
He was happy to make the trip; the self-described adrenaline junkie has never tested himself on snow and ice.
It all started well enough. At a pre-Fulda Challenge event, Auer tested his jetpack using skis. He designed the jetpack himself using two 100-horsepower turbine engines. He’s been working on the jetpack design since 1991, relying on his background in mechanics.
For Auer, it’s all about problem solving.
“I like to make impossible things possible,” he said on Wednesday.
He also tested his brand new jet-powered Bobbycar, his own modification on a classic children’s toy.
“Every kid in Germany has a Bobbycar; they’re everywhere,” he said. “Germans think this is really funny.”
He ran into trouble with his Fulda-issued parka — the jetpack burned a hole into the back.
Ever the problem solver, he got a local sewing shop to fasten a sheet of fibreglass to the parka, to serve as a heat shield.
With all the niggling details out of the way, it was time for the main event.
A 300-metre track was cleared in the snow on Schwatka Lake, and Auer challenged local pilot Gerd Mannsperger to a race.
The Bobbycar had enough juice and acceleration to beat the plane, topping out around 80-kilometres per hour.
Mannsperger said he may have laid off a little in the race — but only because Auer had trouble with his jetpack and skis, and was forced to race with the Bobbycar instead.
“Watching him accelerate on the skis during the practice was unbelievably fast, I would have had no chance,” said Mannsperger. “It was like a rocket.”
He estimated that the skis had about four times the power of the Bobbycar.
German TV was on hand to capture the race, but the event was kept quiet locally.
After a bad crash because of spectators last year at LeMans in France, Auer wanted to keep the track as clear as possible. He’s reached a top speed of 192 kilometres per hour on skates, with just 400-metres to accelerate.
Although Auer is an extreme-sports star in his homeland he’s no fitness guru.
So when the Fulda people asked him compete in some of the actual Fulda Challenge events, (which included biathlon, a half-marathon and ice climbing) he was a little surprised.
“I haven’t run in at least a year,” he said with a laugh.
Initially they wanted him to cover the first two days of events for another celebrity competitor, Brazilian soccer star Giovanni Elber, who was running late.
Elber called back later to say he wasn’t coming, and Auer ended up competing in the entire Fulda Challenge — something he wasn’t planning to do while in Whitehorse.
He did have plans to do more stunts however, involving some of the Sled Porn crew, but the frigid temperatures put the kibosh on those.
He’s looking forward to getting home, to continue work on his latest stunt project, again using the jet-powered Bobbycar.
“I’m going to roll off the top of an airplane, on the Bobbycar, freefalling and doing loops and flips,” he said, becoming more visibly animated while describing his plan.
“Then I’ll open the parachute, turn on the jets, and fly down — when I land I’ll cut the parachute away and speed off,” he said with a grin.
He hopes to have his stunt ready to go by the summer, but he can’t do it at home: German aviation laws are too strict for this freewheeling stuntman.
He’ll go to the Czech Republic to make the jump.
Meanwhile, a theme park in Munich has him booked to open its new roller-coaster — on skates.