Every time a go-kart slid around a bend, its wheels spun, throwing ice and slush against the edge of the rink, Alanna and Aiden Honeck banging on the boards and screaming.
The Clark Lake twins, 6, didn’t cheer on a particular driver or kart. They loved the slides, twists and falls.
And with karts seemingly out of control more than they were, Sunday’s ice kart races at the Optimist Ice Arena kept them entertained.
For the second time, ice kart racing returned to Jackson’s rink. Twenty-two teams slipped through the corners and collided over an afternoon of racing, which drew a large crowd.
“We’re here for entertainment,” said runner Marie Maddix of Galesburg. His teammate Alec Bolthouse, a student at Michigan Tech, added, “Instead of trying to go fast, we try to stay away from people.
Maddix and Bolthouse both raced for Gear Grinders 1, a team made up of Eaton Corp employees. from Marshall and Galesburg with no ice kart racing experience. Many teams were full of recruits.
Kalamazoo’s Doug Dietsch had never raced on ice before Sunday, and neither had much of his The Real Chili Bowl team. The team members were experienced Sprint or Midget racers, but with only a 6.5 horsepower motor and screw-in tires to get the kart going on the icy track, it was different.
Top five teams from Sunday’s ice kart race at the Optimist Ice Arena
1. The gods of Sod
2. The real bowl of chili
3. Blond runners
4. MM Racing
“There isn’t a lot of power, so if you find yourself in a mess you can’t get out of it,” Dietsch said.
The team’s strategy was to be patient and keep the kart under control. They braked hard in turns, kept the engine revving, and hopefully came out of clean turns. It seemed to work. The team started on the first row of the 150-lap feature and took second place for the day.
A 40-lap heat race series organized the pitch for the main event. During the races, the teams changed drivers, giving men and women, young and old, a chance to glide around the rink.
Race director Steve Lefere said he organized Sunday’s race after the positive response to an ice kart race in March.
The puncture problem from last year’s race was fixed with glue and extensive testing. Lefere plans to organize another ice karting race in March. Sunday’s race raised funds for the rink and the Jackson Area Hockey Association.