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Motorcycle and Quad Ice Racing

by Barry Mercer

I was still recovering from a rather nasty motorcycle crash in winter of 2004 when I took my son and one of his friends to the then "Everett Event Center"  (now Comcast Arena) to watch the speedway bikes on the ice. We picked up the former VME ride coordinator, Al Carson, at his house in Everett. We dragged him along as he knows far more about ice racing and speedway in general that I will ever know, and being from Everett he knows where to park! Got a great spot on the street for free, and only had to hobble around the building to the entrance to get in.

It was an interesting crowd that ranged from hard core bikers to the sublime family types with their kids that race quads on weekends. Many I recognized from my work in sales at Eastside Harley Davidson, among other places like the VME, the now-closed Buckaroo Tavern and other motorcycle-related events. It was very much like the bike show, or a much smaller Seattle Mile, with a lot of the regular suspects in attendance. This made it a social event, and that was nice as I had spent the last 6 months in a hospital bed at home, with weekly trips to the doctor and physical torture to mix it up a little.

I have done quite a few searches looking for information on those races back in '04, but have found less than I thought would be available. Not that it was a major regional event, but it was a lot of fun and I thought for sure there would be old articles on the races. None that I could find easily at least, so you will have to suffer with my and my son's foggy memories. He was about 9 at the time and with his best friend, and an unlimited supply of candy and concessions were at the top of their game.

I have been to indoor racing before, back in 1976 at the Seattle Center Coliseum where they raced converted dirt bikes and speedway bikes on the concrete floor, with just rubber tires and a prayer to keep them from sliding into the walls. Many did, though there were few injuries. The ice races were just a little different; there were twice as many crashes, to the point that it seemed like the guys that stayed up, or could recover quickly, were headed for the main events, almost every time. A whole lot of racing, with lots of spills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sDbMIhi9SI&feature=related

My son reminded me today of a quad rider that got tangled up and went from being a leader to being led off the ice on a stretcher for a quick trip to the hospital. I did not envy him, of course, but was full of empathy. He had lost it in a turn hitting the wall hard and then had to lay on the ice for what seemed like 15 minutes until the paramedics could come and pick him up. Seems they had been informed incorrectly, so it took longer to summon them than the crowd knew it should, and they entered the ice without Micro Spikes to keep them from falling on their own keisters. This as the crowd hissed and booed their tardy entrance as they conducted an unbalanced dance with heavy equipment to the waiting patient. There were some close slides and saves, but they made it on and off the ice with the fallen rider in tow, or on the stretcher as the case was at the time and them holding on with an unusually dedicated passion. An announcement after about a half hour reassured the crowd that the fallen rider was recovering and would be fine.

The racing at these events is almost non stop, as they pack a lot of classes and types of riders from the pros to the first time locals on a very slippery surface. The motorcycles use spikes on the tires to keep them on the surface and this also heightens the anxiety of the situation. Some of the locals, like Seth Church from Mountlake Terrace, had lots of experience and though a former National Champion Ice Racer, the small track made it a tough challenge even for him. The form of equipment varies quite a bit too, and this makes watching each heat a new experience. My son and his friend were really jazzed about it, though with work and other scheduling we have not been back. It seems like it would be a good time to take him to another ice racing event though, so see you at The Comcast Arena in Everett on December 19 th 2010.

For more information on the Everett Event on December 19 th 2010 see:

http://www.comcastarenaeverett.com/Events/GeneralEvents.ashx?p=1154&70_evntdt=905&70_evnt=629

There is also Ice racing in Auburn and Portland though another sponsor and promoter Friday December 3 rd in Portland, and Saturday the 4 th in Auburn. See:

http://icespeedway.com/index.shtml

Have fun and by all means take your kids!


Barry Mercer is a long time motorcycle industry veteran living in the Puget Sound.


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