Not much happening in my simple little life here in the wastelands. (Picture the warning signs on narrow desolate road entering post-apocalypse no-man’s land of “Mad Max.”) (random aside: would like to see Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series finally make it to the screen to find out how they depict that sci-fi wasteland, particularly the Blaine-the-train sequence.) Ha! Not that my life is a desolate wasteland, just wanted to share the fleeting imagery.
Stuck in blue-collar St Cloud, an apparent vacuum of culture, an outsider amongst cliquish strangers, this entire experience feels like a self-imposed exile. Away from friends, familiar bikeways around lakes and landmarks I love, favorite restaurants and events. But life is what you make of it! Beholden upon me to embrace all new experiences with a sense of adventure, make new friends, discover new favorite places.
That said, just blew off one possibility this morning. Was thinking of heading over to Mille Lacs to check out the revamped ice races scheduled there this weekend. I say revamped because the current International Ice Racing Association (IIRA) series is a mere shadow of its former glory days of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s when fast machinery and famous names like Jerry Hansen, Peter Kitchak, Paul Menard, Leighton Reese, Bobby and Tommy Archer ruled the ice. The sport hit tough times and almost died. Some retired, some launched their careers to NASCAR, Indy & LeMans series, and some like my father embraced Vintage Racing and left ice racing behind.
At least it hasn’t died completely, and for that I’m grateful. It is now, more than ever, a low-budget racing series, i.e. race-a-clunker. I should point out that even in it’s heyday with all the big dogs running up front, the IIRA was still an excellent entry-level series for any skill level or budget. Even perpetually broke-ass me managed to campaign an old Saab 96 when I wasn’t borrowing my mom’s Sonett.
What happened to all the classic machinery of those glory days. My Dad’s unique experimental-class V6-powered Saab Sonett lurks in the machine shed as I puzzle over what to do with it. It had been sold to a rich-man’s kid for ice-racing in Canada and was abused and used up, then neglected to the rusted out hulk it is today. At some point, my father bought it back for nostalgia, but I think even he had no idea what to with it. Time-consuming and expensive project to restore, yet not eligible for any current racing series. And with Dad gone, who else would undertake that effort? I’ve balked at any talk of disposing of it. Mister cooperation can get prickly at times. I’ve been searching online for an ice-racing museum to donate the car to, but have been unable to find one despite hearing talk of one in New York State. Striking out with Saab museums, too. In fact, the factory Saab museum in Sweden is apparently lost with the demise of Saab. (Tim Winker photo from circa ’75 AutoWeek)
I’ve gotten the hair-brained idea of starting an ice-racing museum. No idea how to pull it off. Where to put it, how to under-write it, where to get more cars. I know of potential key-players, but I don’t “know” them, nor do they know me, or even of me. The problem is I’m too soft-spoken and unobtrusive, I suck at networking, and thoroughly lack the wherewithal to pull-off such an endeavor. What I need to do is find and plant the idea in the head of an enthusiastic point man. Which was one small reason to go to the races, to scout around, float the idea.
Other vintage ice-racing cars must be out there. Besides my father’s Sonett, there was also my mother’s old ice-racing Sonett which ended up in my father’s stable after the divorce. However, rusted out, pretty stock, and not unique, it had little redeeming value and I relented to letting it go to the junkyard. (Crushable pieces of my past.) Furthermore there was the ex-ice-racing Lotus Europa which had been converted to a vintage road-racer. If we hadn’t elected to sell it, that vehicle would’ve been a worthy museum piece. The question is, how many other people would like to see an ice-racing museum, and how many cars could get donated. Certainly would need to get the proper non-profit charity paperwork in place so car donators get tax write-offs for their contributions.
The other reason to go to the races was to scout out which cars were currently competitive, maybe even find one for sale. I shopped online for am ice-racer, with little success. Oh, a few possible projects, but nothing ready-to-go, with the required roll-cage, studded tires etc. Stuff that all takes time. I would like to dabble again, see how it goes. Plus a little current ice-racing would make getting a vintage-racing license easier, should I choose to take on the Elva-Porsche. (Another story for another day.) I’ve been out of it for decades, practically an old man now, but I have a hunch I’m still fast. Few years back, hopped in the racecar of my brother, a very experienced racer, at an ice-khana for a few hot laps, crushed his best time ice-cold, zero practice. Mere glance at the time sheet with a knowing smirk, before walking away. But, talk is cheap, it’s the doing of something that counts.
So this morning, I mapquested the race location, found it’s at the northern part of Mille Lacs, and what I had assumed was an quick jaunt turns out to be an hour-and-a-half drive each way. To stand around in the cold, probably bored out of mind, wondering what the hell am I doing there, watching a bunch of people I don’t know doing what I should be doing. I make a lousy spectator. So, I didn’t go. So much for doing. For now. Stay tuned?
I think I’ll head to the armory instead for a motorcycle swap meet. Maybe find some carb kits for my old BMW R80. Actually feels more like doing.