If you build it they will come ...
Ice Racing and the Minden Kin Club.
Racing cars on ice started in Ontario more than forty years ago, and it continues to thrive as an inexpensive, fun part of the Ontario motorsport scene. The events were originally held on frozen lakes and rivers - and some still are - but in the mid seventies, the Ontario championships moved to more permanent facilities at the fairgrounds in Minden, Ontario. For the last 32 years the Minden Kin Club has built and maintained the only land based track in Canada, and to the best of my knowledge, North America.
The racing series runs from mid January to mid March and is sanctioned by the Ontario region of the Canadian Automobile Sport Club. Up until just a few years ago with the addition of two more tracks in Ontario, there were just three recognized by the governing body, Mosport, Shannonville and Minden.
Preparation for the track starts a full 2 months before the green flag drops on the first weekend.
After the first snows and with about 8 inches on the ground, the track is “tramped” by heavy equipment supplied by a local contractor. This allows frost into the ground for ease of flooding and better quality of ice.
The track is delineated by snowbanks that have to be at least 5 feet high and 10 feet wide around the outside and to a lesser extent on the inside. The same contractor also maintains these banks throughout the season. In years with marginal snow conditions the snow for the banks would have to be trucked in and put into place with heavy equipment. This makes for interesting clean-up in the spring when we find the odd shopping cart laying on it’s side 5 miles from where it is supposed to be.
The track is over 60 feet wide and almost a kilometer long, and the required ice depth for the start of the season is a foot or better.
When Mother Nature cooperates the initial flood can begin. This is accomplished by pumping water from a dug well supplied by a creek. It passes some 1500 feet from the creek to the fairgrounds below the frost line to custom-made stantions. From there we manhandle 4” hoses out onto the track and couple together and remove 40 to 60 foot lengths until the track is wetted down. This is repeated until depressions and ridges in the track are filled in to a depth of three to four inches and solid enough to support heavy equipment.
If we’re lucky we can work weekends during the day but the hose work is done mainly in the evenings and at night, in temperatures reaching the –30 mark or cooler. We would have to chip the ice off our lower extremities in order to drive our vehicles home.
This past season saw approx. 200 man-hours and 288.000 gals of water laid down on a volunteer basis just for the initial flood.
From this point to the start of the season, heavy tanker trucks supplied by the contractor flood the track until the desired depth of ice is reached. The ice surface was then maintained throughout the season and a further 655.000 gals of water were laid down for a total 943.000 Gallons or 4.243.500 liters. As you can imagine these numbers make for an interesting spring run-off.
As well as the construction and maintenance of the ice surface, the Minden club has also built and maintained a heated registration trailer, (also used for our annual Truck and tractor pulls, and CF yard sales), a heated pump house and buried supply lines, and a heated starter stand for the flag marshals. We also maintain and run the fairground washroom facilities and a food booth, which, (according to my daughter), sell the best hot dogs on the planet. (The food booth that is, not the washrooms)…
Along with the revenues accrued from ice racing, the club also rents the track out to Driving Schools and Major tire manufacturers and their distributors. A few years back we even had the Canadian World Rally Team on the track testing their cars and tires for the Swedish round of the world championship.
About 14 years ago a study was conducted by the Minden club on the impact of ice racing and the local community. They polled Ice Racers, Hotels, Motels, Taverns, Restaurants, Gas stations, and Garages … you name it! … And it quickly became clear that the little sport that took place at the Minden fairgrounds was bringing in approx. $350.000 dollars over a six week period. In recent years the popularity of this sport has grown in leaps and bounds and I would not mind betting that the revenue number is closer to $750.000.
In closing, I would just like to say that without one particular local contractor, there would not be ice racing in Minden. Not only does he supply the quality equipment and manpower needed to accomplish the task of track building, but does it at a reduced rate. Every year he has donated equipment, time, fuel and manpower so that others may race, he’s also quite the competitive racer himself. Of course I speak of our own KIN CLUB president, Tom Prentice.
This past season, marked the clubs 37th year building the track at the fairgrounds in Minden.
yours on the Ice ...
Andy Hughes. CASC-OR Ice Race Director
(Pic ...President Tom presents a souvineer shirt to the National president of Kin Canada , after a sufficient Scaring session on the ice)