Canadian Automobile Sport Club Ice Racing (CASC) director Brad Elkins jokes that when it comes to the weather, “my crystal ball is malfunctioning.” However, he hopes the annual event at the fairgrounds can launch its 2023 season this coming weekend.
They had hoped to kick things off Jan. 21-22, but Elkins said a lack of snow meant the snow banks that line the track are not high enough.
“We are still hoping to race Saturday and Sunday for the next five weekends,” he added, which would take the season to March 4-5.
The races were staged last winter – following a two-year pandemic hiatus – although there were still COVID-19 restrictions and competitors and fans had to social-distance.
“People were still nervous,” Elkins said. However, “this year, we are allowing passengers in the cars again. We are hoping for more entries. People are travelling more.”
The racing director added they are looking forward to the spectators returning too, to watch and enjoy what has become a winter tradition. “Hopefully, we will get a few who are interested enough to give it a try.”
Elkins said it’s not only important to have a good season for racers and fans, but the local economy as well, as, “I think this series has an economic impact on the area.”
He also gave a shout out to the Minden Kin Club for its involvement, saying that without them the races would not happen. “They play a huge part in the races.”
Personally, he said he is “looking forward to getting back out there soon.”
During the 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 added.
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.
Rickard agreed 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.
Organizers hope ice racing can return to Minden on the Feb. 4-5 weekend.