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HISTORY OF INDOOR MOTORCYCLE ICE RACING -A TRUE AMERICAN CREATION!

Greetings and welcome to the exciting and very interesting world of indoor ice racing. The history of this relatively new sport is a bit of a mystery to many enthusiasts and outright misrepresented by others.

SO HOW DID ALL THIS GET STARTED ANYWAY?

Dirt track speedway motorcycle racing has been around in various degrees of popularity for over eighty years. In fact, the first race ever held was credited to West Maitland, New South Wales, and Australia in November of 1923.

In 1975, some fifty-four years after the beginning of speedway motorcycle racing, a group of inventive Americans took these brakeless, gearless, and simplest of all hybrid-racing machines indoors to compete on ice. Also in 1975, indoor ice racing competitions were being held using 250cc flat track bikes as the primary machines.

A Michigan gentleman named Staten Lorenz was credited with starting this form of ice racing. The end result has been the evolution and development of a thrilling new sport. From its early American beginnings, indoor ice racing is now being enjoyed by fans throughout the world.

In 1975, some fifty-four years after the beginning of speedway motorcycle racing, a group of inventive Americans took these brakeless, gearless, and simplest of all hybrid-racing machines indoors to compete on ice. Also in 1975, indoor ice racing competitions were being held using 250cc flat track bikes as the primary machines.

A Michigan gentleman named Staten Lorenz was credited with starting this form of ice racing. The end result has been the evolution and development of a thrilling new sport. From its early American beginnings, indoor ice racing is now being enjoyed by fans throughout the world.

The first ever indoor speedway ice race was organized and promoted by a motorcycle dealer in Huntsville, AL in 1975. The next was held in New York State and the third was organized by a group of racers and their families in the summer of 1976. This event was held in the Kent State University Hockey Field House in Kent, Ohio. As fate would have it, then speedway rider, Gary Densford, staying in Indiana at the time, was invited to compete in this event by his close friend Bob Hetrick. Hetrick ended up winning the event and Densford finished second. More important in the big picture of things, it started the wheels rolling for what is now the World Championship ICE Racing Series.


Densford left Ohio pumped up by what he had just experienced. He traveled the country looking for arenas to hold a championship series of events in. You can imagine the response from some arena managers back then. Everything from "You want to do what on my ice"!? to "Are you crazy " nitro burning motorcycles without brakes! You're out of your mind!? With perseverance, Densford was able to find four willing victims?, wrote a rule book and what heretofore was a novelty event had become a brand new motorsport.

It was in 1977 when Densford first formed International Championship Events/ICE to organize and promote indoor speedway ice racing. Back then the sport was quite simply titled Speedway On Ice. The first ever series of racing events were held that especially cold winter. The first of the four championships was held January 13, 1977 at the Oklahoma State Fair Coliseum in Oklahoma City followed by events in Amarillo, Texas, Tucson, Arizona and Dallas, Texas.

The early pioneering riders rode old two valve Czechoslovakian Jawas and British made JAP machines. This group of traveling daredevils sported some colorful names such as Rick "The Rocket" Workman, "Buffalo" Bob Hetrick, Timmy Joe Shepperd, Woody Doogan, Jim "The Cincinnati Kid" Hedrick, Tony "The Tiger" Westbrook, "Marvelous" Mark Cherry, "Fly"n? Finley Wallace, "Rapid" Ralph Castor and his brother "Gentleman" Jim to name some.

All that was available for traction on the ice in those days was off the shelf hardware store sheet metal screws. There was no uniformity and racing results were quite primitive relative to today's competition. In real terms - over two seconds a lap slower!

Technical innovations have improved the sport dramatically since those early days. The biggest improvements have come in the areas of tire and stud technology. In 1982 ICE adopted a stud rule making use of a single designed stud mandatory. The new "Ice Getter" stud was specially made for ice racing and related motorsports activities, primarily on frozen lakes, ponds and rivers in North America's cold weather regions. The Ice Getter was a good universal stud that allowed for better traction and no increased ice wear (a very important consideration for indoor ice racing). This stud was about a second per lap quicker and gave very consistent traction.

As the sport and its riders developed further we began to realize that much more traction could be achieved and that there needed to be a stud design that could be "tuned" or adjusted. To accomplish this in 1985 ICE adopted a new mandatory stud called the "Kold Kutter". This nifty little design knocked seconds off lap times! Although ice wear did increase, the gain in traction and exciting racing action was worth it. Indeed, the lap times and speeds got so quick that several older riders of the time decided to retire. Their reaction times were just not competitive any longer. These specially designed, extremely sharp edged, directional ice racing studs can be "tuned" by riders and their mechanics to achieve excellent "side bite" for cornering and "forward drive" for straightaway and starting line traction. The Kold Kutter stud was so exceptional that once the riders got used to them they were amazed to realize better traction than they could achieve racing their bikes on the summertime dirt tracks!

The newest mandatory stud to be instituted by ICE on January 1, 1991 are "Silver Rockets Racing Studs". They offer the best of all worlds for indoor ice racing and outdoor ice racing where ice wear is a consideration. The absolute most traction available with the least possible amount of ice wear, just what the doctor ordered.

Another factor in the increasing speeds was improved tire building technology. This all came about through trial and error by some dedicated indoor ice racers. In fact, it takes many hours to "build" a winning set of tires for a champion ice racer. Around the same time the custom dedicated racing studs came on the scene racers began experimenting with inner tire liners. They would cut and install special liner tires inside their regular racing tires. Sometimes a bicycle tire is used for a front liner and a street motorcycle tire for a rear liner. These days there are special purpose built liners available to racers.

Utilizing liners allows the rider to use longer threaded shanks on his racing studs. Using longer threaded screw shanks give the stud (the part that actually sticks out of the tire) more rigidity. This stiff, rigid stud "bites" into the ice surface much more efficiently thus giving the racer much more traction. Couple this evolution of tire/stud technology with the new hi-tech, much more powerful 4-valve racing engines and you can begin to understand why today's competition hardly resembles our first races in the 1970's. These higher speeds and quicker lap times demand that the modern ICE racer be an excellent athlete to have a chance for success.

In 1985 ICE debuted the Trike and Quad Divisions. ATV's were just beginning to get popular at the time. They were an instant hit with the fans on the ice. Unfortunately, insurance liability problems saw the demise of the Trikes that very same year. The Quads "The Race Cars You Sit On" Not In? have since become a premier professional racing division with ICE. In 1986 the first ever ICE Quad National Champion was crowned and in 1990 the first ever ICE World Champion.

Technology is advancing in the Quad Division at a feverish pace. In fact, these days some riders are building lightweight tubular frames just for indoor ice racing competitions. The original set of rules for Quads had a maximum engine displacement regulation of 250cc for 2 and 4-stroke engines. In 1990 the rule changed to allow 360cc maximum displacement for 4-strokes while keeping the 2-stroke limit to 250cc. In 1992 the Quads adopted an "Open" engine displacement rule. Now we see everything from 1100cc Harley-Davidson V-Twins, 1000cc 4-cylinder Suzuki, 650cc 4-cylinder Kawasaki engines to the new age 4-valve head, lightweight, single cylinder powerplants. With Open rules, who knows what American ingenuity will come up with next!!! Great racing and experimentation in technology is exciting to watch! The future of the rough and tumble, bump and run ICE Unlimited Outlaw Quads should be interesting indeed.

Over the years ICE has developed and incorporated many innovations into the sport. Most of these improvements have been in the areas of technical regulations and developments, safety regulations and competition rules. One of the most important in the overall scheme of things is the institution of the ICE Progressive World Race Format. While the concept of a "new" progression style race format may appear simple enough, achieving the desired end results are not always that simple. The goal was to create a format that rewarded the riders' performance while giving the ticket buying race fans the best possible, most exciting racing event. In the 1970's, with overwhelming fan approval, ICE was the first organization to hold a Main Event at the conclusion of a championship speedway race format. The top points scorers earned positions in the Main. Nowadays most promoters and organizations have adopted this format for their major speedway championships. We have taken our original concepts several steps further in adopting the "Progressive World Race Format". The race format you see today has achieved the original intent of providing challenging and fair racing for the competitors while building to an exciting grand finale for the fans.

In 2004 X-Treme Speedway Kart Racing (X-KARTS) was added to the World Championship ICE Racing Series. The ICE X-KARTS more than doubled in participation the very next season and crowned their first World Champion. Also that year, in 2005, the Flat Track Mad Dogs debuted with much fanfare. Finally, an entry level class for indoor flat track ice racing! It will be interesting to see how this class develops into the future. Another popular entry-level class recently initiated by ICE are the ICE Breaker Amateur Quads. Many of our current pros around the country have come out of this "racing for fun and a trophy" class.

In 2004 ICE and its star racers made it to the big time! For the first time in history ICE Racing was seen in the world's most exciting city - LAS VEGAS! That particular World Championship Open event at the Orleans Arena paid a never before heard of $20,000 cash purse. Both the Nitro Speedway Bike and Unlimited Outlaw Quad Champions pocketed a cool $5 Grand! World Championship ICE Racing returns to the beautiful Orleans Arena in 2007.

In the 2005-2006 winter season a new era began in arena ice racing with the Inaugural Manufacturers World Cup ICE Racing Championships. This exciting all new World Championship Series features state-of-the-art, hi-performance, major factory made motorcycles matched up with many of the world's most talented riders. These best of the best riders readily adapt to the new Universal World ICE Bike and crossover from all disciplines of motorcycle racing including Flat Track and Speedway dirt track, Motocross, SuperMoto, Road Racing and even FreeStyle MX to the level playing field of the indoor ice oval. In fact, at the first race of the new Manufacturers World Cup on December 16th, 2005, arguably the most talented group of riders ever assembled for an ICE race converged on the Rose Quarter Memorial Coliseum in Portland, OR. Among those competing were none other than X-Games and dirt track star "Showtime" Johnny Murphree, "Smokin" Joe Kopp, Shaun Russell, Dan Stanley, Shane Vance, Donnie Steward and former ICE Speedway World Champ Seth Church to name just a few.

ICE Has the future of World Championship ICE Racing focused and in its sites. Manufacturers World Cup Bikes, Nitro Speedway Bikes, Unlimited Outlaw Quads, X-KARTS, Mad Dog Bikes and ICE Breaker Amateur Quads. There's something for everyone at an ICE Race! It's no wonder our slogan remains - THE GREATEST SPECTACLE ON ICE!

With the continued support from our great racers, race fans, staff, sponsors and arenas around the world, exciting ICE racing advancements will continue long into the future. The potential is wide open, there is no limit. Our goal is to take is to take World Championship ICE Racing to a well deserved and earned lofty position in motorsports history. Come along for the ride of your life!



*Contributing Photographers:

Mike Gustafson, Lynnette Anderson, Mike Basso, Matt Dillon, Brian Losness, Ron Olds, Jetblast Photography & FX Photographics, Russell Bauer, Daryl's Photos, Metcalfe Photography, Ikonix Studio
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