Race fans going through withdrawal of hearing the roar of car engines and seeing side-by-side racing may want to check the local ice racing clubs this winter.
The clubs create their own tracks on local bodies of water – including Lake Weyauwega – and bring their ice racing cars there each week to enjoy the sport they love: car racing.
There are a handful of local clubs to choose from, including:
Weyauwega Ice Racing Club
Joe Gitter, volunteer and participant with the Weyauwega Ice Racing Club, said ice racing has been taking place for at least 15 years on Lake Weyauwega. The races take place on the west shore, near the Hitching Post Bar & Grill.
Racing always starts the second Sunday in January, so for 2011, racing will start Jan. 9. The season will run six weeks, with action getting under way at 12:30 p.m.
“Spectators are free and welcome,” Gitter said. “We plow an area for the spectators to park and they can sit in their vehicles and watch the races.”
Small Car Studded, Small Car Non-Studded and Full-Size Non-Studded are the three divisions that race weekly. Gitter said the Small Car divisions can be front- or rear-wheel drive, but are generally four-cylinder cars. The Full-Size Division includes front- and rear-wheel drive cars.
“We’ll keep track of their points separately because the front-wheel drive has a significant advantage over the rear-wheel drive cars,” Gitter said. “If we get enough of each, we’ll have separate classes for them.
“Often, they will be on the track at the same time because we have a very large track,” he said. “It’s almost a full half-mile, so there is a lot of room for cars on the track. We’ll often run them simultaneously, but keep track of the points separately.”
Gitter said the club averaged around 15 cars last year, but that was more than the year before, so he hopes interest is growing.
“It’s always an entertaining show with good side-by-side racing, plenty of passing,” he said. “There are usually plenty of spinouts and excitement as well.”
Marion Ice Racing Club
Ice racing will return to Marion this winter, with the season starting Sunday, Jan. 2, if there is enough ice.
Racing will take place each Sunday on Marion Pond by Lions Point, with the action getting under way at 1 p.m.
Club president B.J. Schoneck said the club has been in existence for around 20 years. The divisions that will be part of the weekly program in 2011 include Front-Wheel Drive Studded, Front-Wheel Drive Nonstudded and Rear-Wheel Drive Nonstudded. The Front-Wheel Drive Studded class is for four-cylinder cars only, while the Front Wheel Drive Nonstudded class is for four- and six-cylinder cars.
There is also a claim rule in the Front-Wheel Drive divisions.
“Anybody in the top four is eligible to be claimed,” Schoneck said. “Anybody on the lead lap can claim one of the top four cars, so if someone comes in with a front-wheel drive car that dominates and it’s a $10,000 car and you come over with a $50 car, you can take it home for $500.”
Tires and a few other items are not included in the claim. Schoneck said the reason for the claim rule is to “keep the money out of it.”
Schoneck said the club averages around 25 cars per week. Admission for spectators is $3 for adults and $2 for kids. The season will conclude with a doubleheader weekend Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 19-20.
“We’ve always run a Saturday show because of the fish derby, so we are just continuing that as kind of a season finale,” Schoneck said. “This year, being that we are down on the other end of the pond, I wanted to end before the fish derby so we are still running our two-day show to keep the tradition going.”
Tilleda Thunder on Ice
This will be the seventh year that Tilleda Thunder on Ice will taking to the Tilleda Pond (aka Lake Speed) Saturday afternoons during January and February for ice racing. The 2011 season is set to begin Jan. 1.
“We are on track,” club president Bob Schmidt said. “Right now, we have 13 inches of ice there, but we got so much snow on the pond we can’t move it. The track is actually built, but we are having a little trouble with the pit area right now.”
Races start at noon each week and there is a $5 admission charge for spectators to get on the pond. Spectators can park and mingle in the pit area during the racing program. There is also a food stand set up for spectators to purchase food during the racing program.
Returning divisions in 2011 include Front-Wheel Drive Studded, Front-Wheel Drive Nonstudded and Rear-Wheel Drive Nonstudded. New this year will be a division for rear-wheel drive cars, but instead of four studded tires, the cars will have only two. The studded tires can be place on any wheel of the car, but only two wheels can have studded tires.
Schmidt said this new division is being added because of previous low car counts.
“Last year, we didn’t have any cars (Rear-Wheel Drive Studded) and the previous years, we were getting two or three cars,” he said. “We thought this would be a little cheaper to put tires together. Guys are calling, there is interest in it. You still have to have a four-point cage and the safety stuff.”
Also new this year will be ATV racing on a weekly basis. ATV racing will start as nonstudded, but if there is enough interest, a studded division will be added.
Schmidt said in the past the club has averaged 35-40 cars each week. The club doesn’t host a special during the year, but it does have special celebrity/media races periodically during its regular racing program.
“If you like the outdoors in the winter, Tilleda is the place to be on a Saturday,” Schmidt said. “I’d like to thank all our sponsors that we’ve previously had and the new ones coming on board, as well as the volunteers who help each and every week. It’s greatly appreciated.”
Visit the club’s web site at www.tilledathunder.9k.com for more information.
Caroline Valley Ice Racing Association
The Caroline Valley Ice Racing Association was established in 2010 and will be racing its inaugural season in 2011.
Association president Corny Schmidt said the club will race weekly on Sunday afternoons, with the season scheduled to get under way Jan. 2. Races will be held on Caroline Pond, located below the Caroline Legion.
Schmidt said the season may have to be pushed back a week because there is currently only 7 inches of ice on the pond and the top of the ice is currently too slushy to plow a track. Once the season gets under way, it will run through the end of February or as long as ice conditions will allow, according to Schmidt. Racing action will begin at 1 p.m.
Admission will be $3 for spectators and Schmidt said he hopes a nonprofit group will operate a food stand at the races. The weekly racing program will include the same divisions as those that are part of the Tilleda Thunder on Ice Club.
“We are kind of working together with the Tilleda club,” Schmidt said. “A lot of the drivers who race at Tilleda want to race here.”
Schmidt admitted the car count the first year may be small.
“We’d like to see 15-25 cars, but we know to start out this year it’s going to be a struggle,” he said. “We are going to try all different kinds of things, anything to entertain the people. If you bring it and want to run it, we’ll maybe let you run it. We’ll figure something out. We may not have the biggest car count to start with, but we hope to have the best entertainment.”
Fire on Ice Auto Racing Club
This will be the 27th year of racing for the Fire on Ice Auto Racing Club, which races weekly each Sunday in January and February on Shawano Lake in Cecil.
“We were supposed to start Jan. 2, the first Sunday in January, but there are 12 inches of ice on Cecil Bay right now and we always look to have 17-18 inches of ice and I don’t know if we are going to have that,” club president Steve Thornton said. “I’m thinking we are probably going to start the week after.”
Once the club starts its season, racing will start at 1 p.m. each Sunday. Spectators are not charged an admission to watch the races, but can donate money during the program.
Four divisions comprise the racing program: Front-Wheel Drive Studded, Front-Wheel Drive Nonstudded, Rear-Wheel Drive Nonstudded and an Outlaw Division which includes rear-wheel drive cars with studded tires containing 1-inch sharpened studs. The studs in the Front-Wheel Drive Studded Division are drywall screws drilled from the inside to the outside of the tire.
Thornton said more than 50 cars usually show up on a weekly basis. The club is scheduled to host a Saturday special Feb. 19. Several drivers from other clubs usually race at this event.
Food is available to be purchased at the track each Sunday and the club also supplies a unique way for spectators to enjoy the racing action.
“We have our own radio station, so you just sit in your car and we have signs up as you drive out to tune into our radio station to hear the announcer,” Thornton said.
Thornton said the club provides good family entertainment that is inexpensive. He also said the club is expecting five or six drivers to race in the Outlaw Division who race Grand National cars at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna during the summer. He said the club also tries to get some of the IMCA stock car drivers who race on dirt during the summer to come out and race during the winter.