Winnipeggers know how hard driving on icy roads can be, but what about racing on them?
Well that’s exactly what some Winnipeggers do as a winter hobby. Shane and his son Bryce Stewart are two of those racers.
Four years ago, in December, Bryce passed his driver’s test and was racing a month later. Since then, he’s been racing on ice every year.
“It’s a great way to blow off steam,” said Bryce. “It’s a great way to have fun.”
For the Stewarts, ice racing gets the entire family going. Bryce’s mother, sister and grandmother regularly watch the races, cheering their boys on.
For the boys on the track, they don’t like to watch each other speed by.
“If I am passing my dad, like I did once today, I do get excited. It’s like I have that one up on him. But then he takes it and pushes me into a snow bank. But you know, no harm no foul,” said Bryce. “I tend to be more lenient, I’ll let people go around me. When it’s my dad, I want to show him that I can drive, I can race. So it is a little more competition when it’s family or a close friend out there.”
His dad echoed the competitive drive.
“He’s the kid, you can’t let him win,” said Shane. “There’s definitely more between him and I.”
Even though there is a bit of friendly competition, there isn’t a big cash prize for the winners.
“You get a trophy at the end of the year and you get to point at all the other guys going ‘haha, I won,’” Shane said. “It’s all for fun. I mean what else do you do in the winter.”
Racers take old cars, gut them, put in a roll cage and swap on some winter tires so they can race on the ice.
“It’s a winter tire and then we modify them a bit to get us a little bit more traction, and a little more speed on the track,” said Bryce. “I take a knife and I cut grooves into the tire.”
Even though the initial investment is steep, Bryce said it’s inexpensive after that.
“Two thousand dollars gets you a race-ready car and this car should last me a few more years. Tires are a little expensive, but these tires will last me again a few more years. So with $3500 a person can go from off the street to behind the wheel of a car,” said Bryce.
Since some of the racing is on the ice of a pond, racers have to think of the environmental implications and have to alter their cars.
“We take the bumper covers off, so they don’t look as pretty but they’re going to get smashed off anyway,” said Shane. “If you get into any accident, they’re gone anyways and now you have pollution on the lake so you have to clean that up.
Even racing can be dangerous, Stewart hasn’t been in any serious accidents. He did say the club has had one more serious accident where someone broke their arm.
“It was a roll over and the guy’s window popped out and his hand flew out the window the next roll. Just the way his arm bent, that’s the worst.”
There are races on Sunday, Feb. 15 starting at 9 a.m. at the Murdock Road Water-Ski Pond in Winnipeg. There are also races at the Gimli Ice Festival on Saturday, March 7 starting at 9 a.m. and Sunday March 8 at 9 a.m.