Merrill, MI (Thursday, March 11, 2021) - Earlier this year, Great Lakes Super Sprints (GLSS) owner, Barry Marlow announced his intentions to bring sprint car racing to the ice in 2022. Through a partnership with Sprint Cars on ICE founder, Nick Berry, Marlow expected to have a five to six race ICE schedule for 2022. Naturally, speculation surfaced about how and if this idea would work in the mitten state. Over the weekend, many of those questions were answered during an afternoon test session on East Bay in Prudenville.
Three GLSS competitors and two Great Lakes Lightning Sprints (GLLS) competitors showed up for the test and tune. Over the course of a few hours, drivers and crew members tested fuel, tire and wheel-stud combinations, and worked to understand how to be fast on the ice. Marlow says the test and tune showed next season’s events will be an instant hit.
“We had a big crowd there,” said Marlow when speaking to Horsepower Happenings. “[And] fans saw just a sliver or a taste of what we’re going to do next year.”
Some were skeptical before the weekend test, with questions about safety for the drivers and the fans. For Marlow, those questions were mostly solved before the test ever started, but now are solidified with the confidence that he and his group have a plan.
“I learned a lot this weekend,” Marlow explained. “The biggest problem is going to be getting on and off the ice. The shoreline is the first place to melt. [But], anyplace they broke through, they just kept pushing snow down there and packing it down.”
Marlow says the test was so successful that he has no doubt about running a schedule during the winter of 2022. The only potential issue is if Michigan is faced with a warm winter, similar to what the region has seen the past few years. Marlow compared it to racing in the summer while dealing with the potential of getting rained out.
“There’s nothing we can do about the weather,” Marlow said frankly.
He says his plan is to meet with Michigan communities that have inland lakes and develop a schedule centered around pre-existing events. If the ice isn’t ready, he says they’ll just reschedule or move events similar to in the summer.
“We’re going to try to work together with [community] festivals,” explained Marlow. “The Tip-Ups and Ice Festivals - even the Soo 500 (referring to the International 500 Snowmobile Race in Sault Ste. Marie, MI).”
So far, the community response has been welcoming to the idea of racing Sprint Cars on ICE. In fact, Marlow says he received calls from nearly a dozen drivers following the test who committed to racing on the ice in 2022.
A fair amount of ‘racing surface’ and ‘surface depth’ are needed to host a Sprint Cars on ICE event. Marlow explained that with the proper ice requirements met, fans and drivers can enjoy the show with no worries.
“We want 14 inches [of ice],” explained Marlow. “It’s not like we’re going to be going out in 100 feet of water. We’re going to [race] close to shore and beach areas; going through the ice is not going to be an issue.”
Marlow said fans should look for the 2022 Sprint Cars on ICE schedule as early as September. He says the schedule will likely run from the last weekend of January through the first weekend in March. Fans can also get excited about the upcoming season, because there is little doubt cast on the chance of races being developed.
“It’s happening,” finished Marlow. “Plain and simple, it’s happening.”
First thing is first, drivers and fans get the chance to enjoy racing throughout the entire ‘regular’ season, starting with GLSS at I-96 Speedway on Friday, April 16th. Find out more about the Great Lakes Family of Sprint Cars at www.greatlakessprintfamily.com.
For more stories from around the region, be sure to log ontowww.horsepowerhappenings.com. Listen to on-demand episodes of the Horsepower Happenings Podcast, with new episodes every Monday night at 9:00 pm.
Story by: Zach Hiser, Horsepower Happenings
Photo: Great Lakes Super Sprints; Randy Ellen