GridLife IceBattle 2018


I brought my winter daily driver out to play- a 2003 Forester base model with a manual transmission. It’s plenty of fun in the snow with an exhaust from an STi, suspension from a WRX wagon, a Momo steering wheel from a JDM model Forester, seats from my Legacy GT, and a make-shift short-shifter using parts from a WRX. It’s basically an Impreza RS, but roomier.


Making your own studded tires works best when using some worn down summer tires like these Falken Azenis. Pretty much all DIY studded tires will leak air, sometimes so much that you need to bring an air tank to use between runs, but summer tires work best due to how little siping there is in the tread. This creates a nice smooth surface for the outer washer to seal against and help minimize leaks.

Not only are these types of events a fun way to spend a day with your car buddies, but they’re also excellent for keeping your car control skills sharp in the off season. Traction is a scarce commodity here, and there is a symbiotic relationship that occurs between the studded and non-studded tire classes. If the non-studded cars were left to themselves, they would quickly sweep off any snow cover and polish the ice to a smooth and glassy finish. Not very conducive for good traction.


The start line and the apex of slower corners can get significantly rutted out from studded cars putting the power down.

The studded cars, however, don’t do well in snow and need the surface to be clear for their sharpened bolts to dig deep into the ice for the best traction. As more studded cars run the course, they begin to rip up the surface of the ice, and the cars will start to cut ruts where people are running the same lines. This rougher surface offers a surprising amount of traction for non-studded cars, and on rutted corners you can pretend that you’re Takumi from Initial D and ditch hook right through the curve. The down side is that the moment you leave the areas of “tractionized” ice you will be hopelessly scrabbling for any notion of grip. If you’re lucky you’ll just slide off into oblivion, hopelessly frustrated at your mistake. If you’re unlucky, you’ll smash into a snowbank and damage your bumper (another point for the Forester’s plastic clad lower body).


I daily drive this car for most of the year. I don’t really like it much because of how noisy and clunky it is, but unfortunately, it is perfectly practical in every way so it’s a difficult thing to replace. This is the one time of year that I really enjoy driving it, and is fairly competent on the ice when I’m not just pitching it sideways at every opportunity.

I managed to squeak by with a fourth in class finish for the first heat, but I was having too much fun pitching it sideways around every corner in the second heat to make a competitive time, finishing seventh in class overall.


Look at how much grip this rally prepped Evo has off of the start line, the rear end squats right down. Przemysla Widyna took the overall event win, just barely pushing out Andy Smedegard and the Ice2K by less than a second.

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