The sport of “Ice Racing” is exactly what it sounds like — cars, mostly old sedans, slipping, sliding, and bumping into each other on ice, racing for the finish line at 80 to 90 MPH. It’s like NASCAR, except a little slower, and on a rock-solid frozen lake.
Husband and wife photography team Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber discovered the sport while working on a project documenting the winter season in Minnesota. They spotted a makeshift, handmade sign that read “Ice Racing” on the side of the road, and knew they had to follow their curiosity.
Ackerman and Gruber describe the scene they discovered during their first ice race experience: “White snow on a frozen lake with an array of colourful cars zipping by kicking up snow dust is definitely something that screams to be photographed.”
Ahead, 12 images that show this seasonal, underground sport.
The sport is reliant on the winter season, but even in frozen conditions, specks of ice can get kicked up from the tires, creating what drivers call 'snow dust,' and getting melting ice in the way of a driver's vision.
'This year it wasn't until late January that the ice was thick enough (to drive on),' Ackerman and Gruber said.
As for the racing cars, older sedans are used out on the track. 'They can easily handle a few bumps here and there,' Ackerman and Gruber said.
'It all boils down to how much you want to spend on your car. For some, they invest a lot in their car and the engine, and for others it's just about the joy of being out and racing,' they said.
When it comes to winning, you have to have the right tires. Studded tires increase traction, and can have the car going up to 80 to 90 MPH.
Drivers take pride in decking out their cars. 'It's a fun way to show off a little bit of their personality,' they said.
'(The drivers) enjoy the thrill of racing and the camaraderie of being out on the ice with their friends,' said Ackerman and Gruber.
Collisions during ice racing are more forgiving than on regular solid ground. 'Collisions are usually minor as you just bump one another and glide out of it thanks to the icy surface you're racing on,' said Ackerman and Gruber. Snowbanks on the side of the track also help soften the blow of a potential accident.
'The crowd will line up in their vehicles on the far perimeter of the track and watch from their heated vehicles,' they said. 'Other spectators who are more brave will actually ride as passengers in the actual race cars, which the race car drivers like because it adds more weight to their vehicle and helps with traction on the ice.'
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