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 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 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.