Ice racing impacted by warm January

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Most of the Lake Superior Ice Festival events are going on as planned this Friday and Saturday. MIRA, however, had to cancel their ice races. 

“It’s disappointing, but I think for the safety of the riders and spectators too, it’s just not feasible to get it done for this weekend,” said racer and MIRA promoter Brock Zychowski.

On the portion of Barker’s Island where the motorcycle, dirt bike, and ATV racing was going to occur, the ice is only 11-12 inches thick.

“It’s thick over here, just not thick enough to park 150 trucks and trailers on the ice, to have everybody adequate spacing,” explained MIRA owner Dalton Mains. “The weight of it is a big issue. We would like to see 16 to 18 inches of ice.”

The ice itself is also an issue. 

“The top layer of ice is not structurally what we want either with the snow that we’ve had and the rain that we’ve had, it’s almost like a slush layer,” said Zychowski. “So the structural aspects of the ice are not there.”

Clear, crystal ice is needed to have enough structural support for racing.

“We have studs in the tires that deteriorate the ice throughout the day,” Zychowski explained.”That snow packed slush ice will deteriorate a lot quicker from the studs and ATVs and dirt bikes that are racing all day, which will eat it up a lot quicker and therefore not end up in a very clean racetrack setting for us racers.”

MIRA plans on holding three events in February, as long as the ice gets thick enough. 

The Lake Superior Ice Racing Association was also planning an event this weekend, with NASCAR drivers racing cars on Allouez Bay. 

“It’s something I dreamed up back about two years ago after talking with some NASCAR drivers and someone coined the phrase ‘NASCAR on Ice’,” said Race Director Barry Sinnex.

NASCAR on Ice was supposed to be on January 17th but got postponed to the 28th and then delayed again.

“Unfortunately, it’s a very unseasonably warm January. I thought we were in really good shape back in December, but it got warm,” said Sinnex. “We postponed it and we are hopefully going to do it next weekend. The ice is growing again. It’s nice and cold, so we’ll see what happens.”

As drivers wait for the ice to thicken, NASCAR on Ice will be hosting a car show for the Lake Superior Ice Racing Association this Saturday, January 28 from noon to 3 pm at 2803 Banks Avenue in Superior. The public is welcome to attend and meet local ice racers. 

A parade of NASCAR and ice racing cars will go through downtown Superior, with a police escort. The association will meet back at the showroom at 2 pm for an interactive Zoom meeting with the NASCAR drivers. Additionally, there will be a silent auction, door prizes, and a NASCAR tire change competition. 

“There’s no set way to do this. I’m just kind of flying by the seat of my pants,” said Sinnex. “If somebody comes up with a good idea, let’s do it.”