Usually, when it comes to bad weather, ice is the worst of the worst driving conditions. Regular tires have little or no traction in such situations and accidents are common. However, some choose to laugh at such challenges and compete in frozen lakes and rivers. However, the sport of ice racing can be demanding, so you will need to prepare your car properly. This is how.
Ice, ice, baby
Ice racing is largely limited to colder climates, where lakes, rivers or even actual racetracks freeze in winter. Although some limited ice races take place indoors on slides, this is largely limited to motorcycles and ATVs because such facilities are too small for cars.
The time-dependent and esoteric nature of ice racing means that it exists on the outskirts of organized motor sport, with most events taking place in the community at the human level. Often, new racers will start in a “run like you” class, with unmodified street cars racing in limited or non-contact races, such as time trials or towing races. Then higher levels usually require more serious training and safety equipment, such as rollers and fire extinguishers, as well as door-to-door racing on larger tracks. However, there are some professional competitions that perform custom cars in a frame of tubes created for the purpose. The most notable of these is the Andros Trophy, held in the French Alps and run by the eponymous jam company.
The ice is slippery, which makes both ice racing so challenging and also incredibly fun. Keeping the car pointed in the right direction, or, conversely, sliding it in the right way around the corners, is the name of the game here. To best achieve this, you will want tires that can provide traction in these conditions.
For entry-level racers in street vehicles, a studless snow tire, such as the Bridgestone Blizzak, is a popular choice. These tires are available in a variety of sizes and were designed in Japan in the 1990s to cope with snow conditions without causing excessive road wear. Special rubber compounds are used, which remain susceptible to low temperatures, instead of becoming hard and hard like summer tires. The tread patterns are designed to dig and compact the snow, while many small grooves, called slats, cut into the tires to add more edges that can be dug into the ice for extra traction. Specialized snow tires have evolved in recent decades and have come a long way during that time.
For serious players, however, studded tires remain the gold standard. However, unlike studded tires, tires are often custom-made, hand-studded with vicious studs longer than 5 mm or 10 mm. Often, ready-made snow tires are modified by drilling holes and installing screws or bolts through the treadfollowed by a layer of tire sealant to ensure that the resulting joint can hold air. More serious competitors will use hardened steel spikes specially made for the purpose. Regardless of the exact design, aggressive studded tires will make a huge difference in performance by sticking to the ice surface and pulling the car forward, significantly reducing the likelihood of turning the wheels.
Ice racing competitions will usually have separate classes for riders with studless and studded tires, as the difference in performance is large. Regulations on the exact size and type of spikes used are also common. Races held on icy asphalt can completely ban spikes, as they can seriously damage the surface of the track, as the ice wears out during the race. Paying clear attention to the rules of the event and the tires used by experienced riders is key to success.
With all the snow and ice fired from your colleagues’ tires, you’ll want a sturdy set of wipers to keep the windshield clean. For older cars, this may require a new set of blades, as well as the replacement of tired old wiper motors that do not have the same muscle as before. Washer nozzles probably won’t be of much help, as spraying water on the windshield when it freezes usually just makes things worse.
For those who compete at higher levels, sliding sideways around the corners is key to shaving seconds off each lap. In such situations, it is just as important to be able to see from the side windows as well as straight ahead. Top-level cars competing in the Andros Trophy actually mount wipers to the side windows to maintain good visibility. For those who build their ice racer at home, it is not difficult to imagine some ingenious connections and garbage parts assembled in such an arrangement. It is possible that the competitive advantage will bring you the trophy at the end of the day.
Implementation and other considerations
As for other considerations, much of what applies to other motorsports also makes sense here. The adjustable suspension will allow you to recruit your car according to the course and will be a big improvement over the shock absorbers and springs. The ability to adjust the riding height higher for a more uneven surface will be a huge advantage, as will the ability to adjust things lower if the course allows. Obviously, some proper racing engineering is the key here. Proper vehicle tuning for the chain will provide net gains both through improved traction and greater driver confidence. More power can also be a good thing, though only if you can use it. The Andros Trophy’s top-of-the-line cars have 350 horsepower; more than that is probably lost on ice.
In addition, often the biggest performance improvement comes from seat time. This can be difficult enough to obtain in normal motor disciplines; ice racing as a winter-only sport makes things even harder. Therefore, it is important to make the most of all the exercises in the races in which you compete, and to take advantage of all other available opportunities to learn the necessary driving skills. Many novice enthusiasts have made their living by doing certain things in an abandoned parking lot, although apparently local regulations and law enforcement may not make this an option for your particular locale.
Ice racing can provide huge excitement with a lower entry lane than much more traditional motorsports, and its strong core focus can make it extremely attractive to beginners. He also teaches driving skills that are very useful in the real world when conditions head south in the winter. Of course, the best time to start building your ice racing car is at the end of winter, giving you maximum preparation time before next season. If this sounds like a sport to you, it’s time to go! And as always, happy killing!