Steve Palmer leads the pack...
Steve Palmer leads the pack in a heat race in the Unlimited Outlaw Quad class during an event in the International Championship Event held at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, on January 22, 2006.
Winter in the Midwest does strange things to people. Long nights, short days, ice and snow force those who love the outdoors to turn to golfing on ice, winter camping and ice fishing to keep themselves sane. ATV and motorcycle riders drag machinery indoors to tinker and tune or get their off-road fix with moto videos and wistful benchracing. A dedicated core group of enthusiasts stud their tires, rejet, wear heavy clothes and keep riding.
Where you find riding, you'll soon have racing. Ice racing was born on the lakes and takes place on a variety of courses that range from quarter-mile ovals to TT tracks with left and right turns and, on occasion, jumps built out of packed snow and ice. Indoor ice racing is also hosted for quads, bikes and karts in ice arenas around the United States.
The point leader of the Unlimited...
The point leader of the Unlimited Outlaw Quad class is Dick Matei and his No. 7 Yamaha Banshee.
International Championship Events (ICE) hosts ice races around the U.S. and Canada, and we visited one of the events held at the home of the Minnesota Wild pro hockey team, Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.
The event includes classes for motorcycles, ATVs, karts and gas-powered barstools. The quads range from bone-stock ATVs in an unstudded class to 200-horsepower, custom-built ice racing quads that compete in the Unlimited Outlaw Quad class. The karts entertain with tight, aggressive racing, and the bikes amaze with a peg-dragging show of skill, but the high-horsepower Open quads are the stars of the show.
Raw power is a key factor, and several of the machines were putting out more than 100 horsepower. The entries were an interesting mix of machines, with a few modified Banshees and other sports mixed with custom-engined quads like Chuck Colbert's nicely finished XR650-engined Honda 400EX. The most eye-opening machine was an ATC250R Honda frame pasted around a 200-horsepower GSX-R1000 motor. Another Honda was stuffed with a CBR600RR motor while another home-build featured a Nighthawk 750 four-cylinder motor.
The motorcycle-engined quads turned out to be owned by a group of racers who travel together. The patriarch of the crew is Don Bergquist, a 50ish man who happily struck up conversation about his team.