GridLife IceBattle 2018
Are you slowly going insane from sitting in your garage staring at your car? Wishing for warmer weather so you can actually go out and do car stuff with your car friends? Just go ice racing instead; it’s essentially an autocross on a frozen lake and is a nice way to keep your sanity while shredding fresh powder with your buds. Just like an autocross, these events happen all over the place, and odds are good that a local club near you is doing something pretty similar. I decided to take a break from my thoroughly half-assed attempts at getting my Sentra off of jack stands for the first time in two years to go see what GridLife IceBattle was all about.
As a Wisconsin resident my entire life, I’m pretty familiar with what these kinds of events entail, but for some of you southern folks, we can do a little explaining of what goes on here. Once it gets cold enough for the lakes to freeze over, some of the clubs in the area will host these ice autocross events. Cost is usually $30-$40 and you get 6-8 runs split into two heats. Unlike an autocross, you typically don’t need to work a heat picking up cones, but if you DO volunteer to help on course, you get to sit in your nice warm car anyways so it’s a pretty good deal.
They take a truck out on the lake and plow a course, set up a few cones to call out some corners and slaloms, then time the whole the whole thing with lasers so we can see who is fastest. I’m sure some of you are saying, “Hold up! Won’t the cars break through the ice!?” Sure, sometimes that happens, but pretty much 99% of the time it mostly doesn’t happen, so it’s not really a big deal. Seriously, it’s fine.
Anyone and everyone is welcome at these events, same thing goes for the cars. There are plenty of casual ice drivers that just bring their daily driver (like me), and there are some people that take it a bit more seriously and spend dozens of hours, as well as hundreds of dollars, building their own sets of studded tires using sharpened bolts, nuts, washers, and butyl sealant. The majority of what you’ll find are Subarus on snow tires (like me), but there are usually some non-traditional entries that do pretty well too.
365Racing’s all-but-famous “Ice2K” is one of those non-traditional entries. It’s an impressively haggard S2000 on studded tires that is almost always the fastest in attendance, in no small part to the driving of Andy Smedegard.