Race fans going through withdrawal of hearing the roar of racecar engines and seeing side by side racing may want to check out some of the local ice racing clubs this winter. The clubs create their own tracks on local bodies of water, and club members bring their ice racing cars there each week in the winter to enjoy the sport they love – car racing.
Granted, the racing action during the winter months isn’t the same as the action during the summer months, but it is still racing. Here is information about several of the local ice racing clubs. If you are looking for some racing action during the winter months, you may want to check some of these clubs out.
Caroline Valley Ice Racing Association
The Caroline Valley Ice Racing Association was established in 2010 and will be racing its inaugural season in 2011. Corny Schmidt, president of Caroline Valley Ice Racing Association, says the club will race weekly on Sunday afternoons and will run through the end of February or as long as ice conditions will allow. The races will be held on Caroline Pond, located below the Caroline Legion in Caroline. Racing action will begin at 1 p.m. each Sunday.
Admission with be $3 for spectators. 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 says. “A lot of the drivers who race at Tilleda want to race here.”
Schmidt admits the car count the first year may be a small.
“We’d like to see 15-25 cars, but we know to start out this year it’s going to be a struggle. 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 is 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. Racing starts at 1 p.m. each Sunday. Spectators are not charged an admission to watch the races, but can donate money during the racing program.
Four divisions comprise the racing program, Front Wheel Drive Studded, Front Wheel Drive Non-Studded, Rear Wheel Drive Non-Studded and an Outlaw division which includes rear wheel drive cars with studded tires containing one-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 says more than 50 cars usually show up on a weekly basis. The club is scheduled to host a Saturday special on Feb. 19. Several drivers from other clubs usually race at this special.
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 says.
Thornton said the club provides good family entertainment that is inexpensive. He says 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.
Marion Ice Racing Club
Ice racing has returned to Marion this winter, with racing taking place each Sunday on Marion Pond by Lions Point in Marion. The action starts at 1 p.m. each week.
B.J. Schoneck, president of the club, says 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 Non-Studded and Rear Wheel Drive Non-Studded. The Front Wheel Drive Studded class is for four cylinder cars only, while the Front Wheel Drive Non-Studded 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 says. “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 says the reason for the claim rule is to “keep the money out of it.”
Schoneck says 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 and 20.
“We’ve always run a Saturday show because of the fish derby, so we just continuing that as kind of a season finale,” Schoneck says. “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 is the seventh year that the Tilleda Thunder on Ice club taken to the Tilleda Pond (AKA Lake Speed) in Tilleda on Saturday afternoons during the months of January and February for ice racing.
The races started at noon each week, and there is a $5 admission charge for spectators to get on the pond. Bob Schmidt, president of the club, points out that the 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 Non-Studded and Rear Wheel Drive Non-Studded. New this year will be a division for rear wheel drive cars, but instead of four studded tires, the cars will have only two studded tires. 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,” Schmidt says. “So 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 is ATV racing on a weekly basis. The ATV racing will start as non-studded, but if there is enough interest, a studded division will be added.
Schmidt says 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 says. “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.”
For more information visit the Tilleda Thunder on Ice website at www.tilledathunder.9k.com.
Weyauwega Ice Racing Club
Joe Gitter, volunteer and participant of the Weyauwega Ice Racing Club, says 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 and Grill.
Racing always starts the second Sunday in January, and the season runs six weeks. The racing action gets underway at 12:30 p.m. each Sunday.
“Spectators are free and welcome,” Gitter says. “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 says. “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. 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 says the club averaged around 15 cars last year, but that was more than the year before so he says he hopes interest is growing.
“It’s always an entertaining show with good side by side racing, plenty of passing,” Gitter says. “And there are usually plenty of spinouts and excitement as well.”