Just as the Eskimos are generally thought of as having over 100 words for snow, folks living in the northern regions of the United States are thought of as having invented, discovered, or copied many uses for ice. And indeed they have, some of the more creative uses involving automobiles—although don’t most drivers generally go out of their way to avoid ice? Or in the case of Daytona and Ft. Myers Outback car owners: ice, are you talking about that shaved stuff that fills up fruity drink concoctions at the beach?
As for the northerners who are required to deal with it as a force of nature, one of those clever ideas involving automobiles and ice goes something like this: a person drives a jalopy out onto the middle of a frozen-over lake or pond, leaves it there, and then the town residents pick dates in a lottery and watch and wait and hope for the car to crack through the ice into the frigid throat of the lake on their marked date. And when the car finally does break through, voila! the person with that date wins the prize purse and plus now everyone knows springtime has arrived.
But for northerners who might find this sort of activity akin to, well, watching paint dry, there is a brasher, louder, more intensified activity for autos and ice known as ice racing. This involves driving a much better car than a jalopy out onto a frozen-over lake or pond (12-inches of solid ice throughout the course at a minimum), but instead of leaving the car there to die a death by drowning, the driver proceeds to presumably risk his or her own life by turning, sliding, and shimmying over the ice at speeds reaching 100 mph.
One daring person over at Autoblog recently ice-tested a Subaru Impreza WRX in Park City, Utah, to wicked results. While the idea of this sort of behavior may sound completely incomprehensible to the Ft. Myers Outback or Impreza WRX owner, perhaps the idea of swimming a foam board out into shark-infested waters to shoot the curl on 10 foot waves sounds a little nuts also? You can read all about this driver’s experiences over at Autoblog, and his post is an entry in Tim Stevens’ series about ice racing as a culture. Ice racing as a culture? You can just see the Ft. Myers and Naples car dealers shivering now.