After a two-year hiatus, racers will soon be sliding around an icy Minden Fairgrounds.
The annual Canadian Automobile Sport Club Ice Racing series was recently green-flagged by the Township of Minden Hills, who voted to allow the use of the fairgrounds.
They’re aiming to begin racing Feb. 5 and 6, with five weekends of racing planned.
“I got the impression everybody on council was eager for us to go forward with this,” said CASC ice racing director Brad Elkins.
During ice races, competitors drive cars outfitted with snow tires or spiked tires around a closed circuit. It requires precise handling and speed control.
Elkins has raced on ice on and off since 1978. He said he enjoys the camaraderie between competitors.
“It’s a chance to get outside and do stuff in the winter time,” he said.
Andy Rickard, president of the Kin Club of Minden, said racers are “extremely keen to go racing.”
Rickard and other Kin Club members create the racetrack. It’s built on layers of ice lined by tall snowbanks, twisting and turning much like an asphalt race track.
Last year the race was cancelled in the midst of COVID-19 restrictions, and Rickard said the return to racing also means a tourism boost for Minden. Drivers often eat at local restaurants and some stay overnight. “It brings a lot of money into the community,” he said.
The race is one of two annual Kin Club events. During COVID, Rickard said both events have been a “complete loss.” The Kin Club is already prepping this year’s track and building up the snowbanks that line the course.
“It’s very welcome, both for the financial good of the club and for the health of the ice race series,” he said.
Driving school returns
The IRL Car Control driving school will resume its training programs at the fairgrounds with COVID safety measures in place.
Council voted to allow the school to resume using the fairgrounds for its training courses. As of press time, the school will be limited to corporate training programs. The majority of current clients, said president and chief instructor Ian Law, are provincial or federal public servants.