Watch This 60-Year-Old Ice Race Footage From New Hampshire
This SCCA race in Franconia Notch featured many now-classic cars going at it wheel-to-wheel in the slush.
With bitter cold enveloping much of the U.S. and yet another snowpocalypse on the way to the east coast, let us not forget that it's still possible to play with cars in the cold. Though those in southern climates may find it hard to believe, ice racing is a popular activity where it's cold enough for the lakes to freeze solid and thick enough to support a car. Clubs such as the Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club have been racing on ice since the 1950s, and continue to do so today.
Even the Sports Car Club of America has dabbled in ice racing, though not in a very long time. This video shows an SCCA-sanctioned ice race from 60 years ago that took place in the beautiful area of Franconia Notch, New Hampshire. A track was plowed out of the snow covering a local lake, and despite wet slushy conditions, participants raced wheel-to-wheel in popular enthusiast cars of the time. While the masses favored big American iron, ice racers drove Saabs, Volvos, and Volkswagen Beetles. Even a now-priceless Mercedes 300SL Gullwing makes an appearance as a passing competitor bumps it wide on a turn. Can you imagine a "rubbing is racing" attitude with a 300SL today?
Ice racing is an excellent way to learn and practice car control. Even the narrator says, "Strange as it seems, sports car jockeys are reputed to be the safest drivers in the land."
Traction is so lacking that everything happens more slowly at lower speeds. What would become a snap spin on pavement can happen slowly enough for you to think through your control inputs and nip it in the bud. If successful, your reaction becomes instinct and can save you at normal speeds on the road. If you mess up, you have plenty of time to consider the error of your ways as you spin slowly across the ice.
Trust me. I've been there, done that, with the Boston Chapter BMW Car Club of America.