– The Midwest Ice
Racing Association and Northcoast Race Promotions crowned
the first ever King of the Lake on Sunday, February
26, 2006. This race was on the second day of a double
header held at Allouez Bay in Superior, WI.
Ice Racing season happens quickly, and ends all too
soon for these hearty competitors. As soon as the
northern lakes freeze, these riders bundle up and
practice in groups on makeshift practice tracks to
prepare for the racing season. Riding styles change
drastically from the dirt, and can best be compared
to riding on asphalt in the summertime! Traction can
go form perfect to nothing in the blink of an eye.
A good ice racer knows the groove and his machines
limits. Hitting the snow dust on the outside of a
turn results in an immediate spin out. Also, coming
back from getting sideways to the “ice asphalt”
can be catastrophic.
Many hours are spent dialing in equipment and adapting
these machines to handle on the frozen sheet of ice.
Studded tires with between 1200-1500 3/16" ice
screws are just the beginning of an Ice Racing setup.
These machines differ slightly from dirt track and
TT machines commonly seen in the summer months. Slight
suspension and handling settings have a major effect
on overall handling on the ice.
The best ATV ice racers from the upper midwest competed
for King of the Lake honors in what has become the
most hotly contested Ice Racing TT series ever held.
These contestants ran the King of the Lake final in
addition to the regular program in this final race
of the King of the Lake Winter Series.
Riders qualified at four earlier M.I.R.A. sanctioned
events in January and February of 2006. Three riders
from each qualifier advanced to the starting grid
for Sunday’s event.
The M.I.R.A. series runs a TT format, which is rather
unique in Ice Racing circles. Most Ice Races run an
King of the Lake was designed to test men and machines,
and that’s exactly what happened! Fifteen laps
on the twisty 3/4 mile course with speeds of 75 mph
tested every nerve, stretched every muscle and hammered
on equipment. For various reasons, only six of the
eleven entrants finished the main event. 15 laps on
the 3/4 mile course comes out to almost 10 miles at
wide open speeds in the freezing cold!
All year, King of the Lake qualifiers ran at halftime,
and the final followed suit. The track was prepped
(plowed with a snowplow) and the riders sighted the
track for one lap and lined up for the ride of their
Favorites were #55 Lee Harper on a Cannondale and
#99 Ike Carey on a conversion Honda. Hutchinson, Minnesota’s
Daryl Rath qualified in a LCQ, and made the starting
grid in the second row. #89 Ryan Larson on a Yamaha
and Honda mounted #00 Travis Cheney could also close
the deal. Ice racing vetran #183 Matt Verdoljak, newcomer
Chad Benesch on a TRX 250R and #5 Cameron Johnson
aboard a Honda rounded out the field.
The green flag dropped, and #67 Daryl Rath puled
the holeshot from the second row! The field rounded
the first corner with #55 Lee Harper in second place
and #00 Travis Cheney in third. On lap two #55 Lee
Harper’s machine suffered a mechanical problem
and prevented him from finishing.
Rath pulled a good lead in the fist four laps, with
#00 Cheney, #99 Carey, #5 Johnson and #400 Chad Benesch
rounding out the top five. Things didn’t shake
up until lap eight, with #00 Travis Cheney succumbing
to pressure from a hard charging Ike Carey. Cheney
bobbled, Carey opened the door, but # 400 Chad Benesch
gained the most ground and found himself in second
place! #400 Benesch, #5 Cameron Johnson, #99 Ike Carey,
and #00 Travis Cheney forged on in that order. Daryl
Rath continued to pull a monsterous lead on his Rath
Racing/Baldwin Motorsports TRX 450R.
With a few laps to go, Rath lost his back brakes
and slowed a bit, but not enough for the field to
catch him. Lap after lap Rath hammered down the 100
yard+ straightway at blinding speeds, and not even
lifting for the hard left turn at the end! The crowd
roared as Daryl Rath and the field approached lap
On lap eleven, Chad Benesch hit the dust on his #400
250R, and allowed Johnson, and Carey to sneak by.
Cameron Johnson held off pressure from Ike Carey for
second-place honors, with Carey, Benesch and Cheney
rounding out the top five.
Rath crossed the finish line in first place, with
the front wheels pawing at the cold air. Daryl Rath
led from flag to flag and kept a blistering pace.
He never let off and never looked back until he crossed
the finish line. Rath looked over his shoulder at
no one as he slowed down after the finish. Despite
some rear brake issues, he held a fifteen second lead
over the rest of the field.\King of the Lake turned
out to be a fitting contest. 15 laps of wide open
action determined a true champion. Riding skills,
preparation and endurance all played a part in crowning
a King. In 2006 that man is Daryl Rath of Rath Racing
from Hutchinson, MN. The book is now closed on this
short season as the spring thaw fast approaches in
Northern Wisconsin. Those who fell short will be back
in 2007 for the second annual King of the Lake Winter
Want to try in ‘07? Contact Northcoast Race
Promotions at www.northcoastracing.com
69 North 28th St. Suite 23
Superior, WI 54880