There is a new group at the helm of ice racing in the province.
The Rocky Motorcycle Club (RMC) held its third of four races in the 2018 Alberta Oval Ice Racing series on Feb. 4 on Gull Lake close to Parkland Beach. The group took on the operation this season from the Calgary-based Second Gear Club, which ran the series for the previous 17 years.
RMC president, and competitive ice racer, Brian Roberts explained the club approached Second Gear as it had been well-known the club’s organizers had been looking to leave ice racing.
“We wanted to see some life beyond for ice racing and it seems to have worked out so far,” said Roberts.
“It’s been hectic, but reasonably smooth. It certainly helps that we have had some key spots filled by people who were part of the previous series operation along with a few new people stepping up to take on other roles.”
The weather on the weekend was a lot different than the previous two races, with lots of fresh snow and air temperatures hovering near minus 30 forcing racers and spectators to bundle up more than usual. It also presented a few issues on the track as the snow and exhaust kicked up by the motorcycles and ATVs hung in the air and lowered visibility.
Ponoka’s Travis Reed, who ended up second in the open expert class Sunday, said it might be tough to explain why he races a bike with studded tires so fast and so close to other racers on what can be a slippery, hard surface.
“These bikes have far more traction on the ice than one might imagine,” said Reed, who is in his sixth year of racing.
“It’s such a rush racing at 120 to 130 kilometres (per hour) just inches away from other bikes and the pegs dragging on the ice.”
Even with the less than ideal conditions, Roberts stated the number of competitors was around the same as normal with some classifications seeing some growth.
“It’s been pretty successful so far with some classes doing a little better than others. We have seven women hitting the track now, which is huge, and the UTV class is continuing to grow,” he said.
Roberts added they are trying to keep things simple in this first year, focusing on their dedicated group of volunteers and having the entire club helping to make it all happen.
The winners were: 450 intermediate — Jon Ens, Red Deer; 250 intermediate — Tom Jordan, Nordegg; open intermediate — Kurt Baumann, Thorsby; 450 expert — Riley Stormoen, Water Valley; open expert — Riley Stormoen; open novice — Jared Rose, Rocky Mountain House; 250 novice — Luke Russel, Calgary; veteran (39-plus) — Shane Lowry, Rocky Mountain House; two-stroke — Travis Reed, Ponoka; four-stroke — Randy Vangeytenbeek, Huxley; women’s motorcycle — Melanie Baumann, Thorsby; youth quad — Austin Roberts, Trochu; ATV 500cc and under novice — Scott Conley, Drayton Valley; ATV 500cc and under intermediate — Tom Tisdale, Rocky Mountain House; ATV 500cc and under expert — Jay Blake, Rocky Mountain House; ATV non-studded two-wd ladies — Hailee Roberts, Trochu; ATV non-studded two-wd — Jaxon Brooks, Wetaskiwin; UTV open studded — Steve Pohl, Millet; UTV over 900cc non-studded — Mark Meyer, Leduc; UTV under 900cc non-studded — Colin Hall, Nisku.
The final race in the series goes this Sunday (Feb. 11) at Sylvan Lake. That will be followed two weeks later (Feb. 25) with the nationals hosted in Lac La Biche.