Ice Racing is a winter sport where cars, motorcycles, snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles, or other motorized vehicles are used for racing. This sport usually takes places on frozen lakes or rivers. However, there are specially prepared ice terrains as well. This type of racing can be done both outside and inside. For the outdoors, natural ice is required. That’s why Ice racing is more popular in colder, high latitude countries. For instance, Canada, USA, and northern Europe. Indoor events are usually held on ice hockey rinks.

Ice Racing Intro
Welcome to Ice Racing

Tracks used for ice racing include ovals and road courses. Some tracks are dirt track racing tracks with the snow plowed off them. It’s important to note that there are events for different types of vehicles. The most popular ones are car and motorcycle racing. However, there are events with other vehicles as well. The International Ice Racing Associacion or IIRA is in charge of organizing events for this sport. You can learn more about them on their official website.

History of Ice Racing

The history of this sport is not very long which is expected. It was long after automobiles and other vehicles were invented, that Ice racing became a thing. However, at the start most vehicles were handmade in car shops. For instance, the first recorded championships happened around 1960 – 1970. However, this was only for racing with automobiles. Motorcycle racing came much later, around 1991. With time, tournaments started being organized with special vehicles.

They were made from regular dirt-track racing vehicles. Several elements are added to make them able to maneuver over the ice. However, the most important change are the special tires. They are known as studded tires. You can recognize them because they have spikes all along them. The spikes go in the ice which allows the vehicle to maneuver. However, there are ice racing tournaments that don’t use studded tires. Those competitions are much harder, because the vehicle has a very hard job when it needs to turn.

Tracks & Tires

When there is no natural snow, an icy surface may be created by spraying the dirt surface with water when the temperature is below freezing. Artificial ice tracks (usually speed skating ovals) are used where it is not possible to construct natural ice tracks. Additionally ice racing tracks are made by plowing the snow off an area of a frozen lake. In the UK, these tournaments are usually held on ice rinks. The longest running event, at Telford, features riders using conventional machines with spiked tires.


As we mentioned above, ice racing tires are either studded or not studded. Studded tires have a stud such as a screw or bolt to provide better traction and increased speed.[4] Some studs are sharpened to increase penetration. There is no store that sells studded tires so a pit crew has to attach the studs to regular tires. Cars with studded tires are generally required to contain a roll cage and increased safety equipment since they achieve much more speed with the greater cornering abilities.

Studded Tires
Studded Tires

On the other hand, non-studded tires are usually regular snow tires. The ones that are used on highway-use passenger cars in colder climates. We know them as winter tires and among the drivers, the Bridgestone Blizzaks and Nokian Hakkapeliittas are the favorites.


As a winter sport, ice racing is not a very popular discipline. The reason for that is because it’s very similar to regular racing that happens to be done on ice. The rules are the same and the vehicles being used are similar. As a matter of fact, the only major difference are the studded tires. However, it’s still popular enough in Northern Europe, Canada, Russia, and other countries where the weather is on the colder side. The IIRA organizes tournaments all over the world but they are mostly on a national level. Their newest addition is the Open Track Racing. This is a type of ice racing where regular cars are allowed to drive on the tracks that are specifically designed for studded vehicles.

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