Sno-drift: Rally racing on ice

Professional skateboarder, turned rally racer Bucky Lasek.

Professional skateboarder, turned rally racer Bucky Lasek.

Rally racing takes place on blocked off sections of public roads. Drivers race the clock attempting to get a faster time than the other teams.

Whoever finishes the course fastest is the winner.

Tomas Solnicky and his Co-pilot Riley Steen are from the Czech Republic. They’re just one of the 40 plus teams of racers that have come from around the world to try their luck on Michigan’s snow covered roads.

Solnicky is a veteran racer, he said even with his years of experience, he rarely gets to race on ice.

“Honestly not much because we don’t have room, or the property to practice, so it’s maybe once, or twice per winter, it’s really hard.”

Solnicky says preparation is everything when it comes to this race.

“It was just a practice, so we’re trying the suspension and everything, it’s kinda deep snow, so it’s kinda slippy, we’re trying to set up everything, the corners and everything, you know.”

The Sno-drift rally is the first race of the 2016 tournament season. That means the course is filled with newbies trying to make a name for themselves.

R.J Zeiler's car

R.J Zeiler’s car

New racers are placed on the same level playing field as the veterans, and they’re given a chance to prove themselves in front of the rally racing community.

R.J Zeiler is one of those up and coming racers. In fact, Zeiler surprised me with how new he actually is to rally.

“Just gonna start off slow so I don’t overpower the limited grip I already have. And this is my first race ever as well, so it will be sort of a learning experience for me as we go along.”

His first race ever, and he’s doing it in the snow. That either takes some serious ambition, or a heavy dose of confidence!

I caught up with Zeiler a couple hours later to see if he was still as excited after braving the track a few times.

“A little rough, the second one was a lot better. Getting the hang of it a little more, feeling out how fast I can actually go. This is a ton of fun, this is awesome! I’m sure dry is a lot of fun too, but this is fun also!”

What Zeiler just said was reflected in the words of every racer I talked to. Dirt is fun, but snow is a whole ‘nother level of enjoyment.

Ronald and Zachary Jacques are a father and son team who recently started their rally careers.

In perfect father/son style, Ronald embarrassed his son Zachary when he said together, they make a perfect team.

The Jacques duct tape car.

The Jacques duct tape car.

“We’re a regional team about two years into this now. He’s a lot faster than I am!”

I asked Ronald if it’s hard to admit that.

“Not one bit! I’m old and wise, and he’s young and foolish so it’s a perfect team!”

The Jacques family drives a rebuilt 1994 Subaru Legacy that they’ve covered in a lattice of rainbow colored duct tape for style.

They said the fun factor isn’t the only thing that keeps them coming back for Sno-drift. This is dad – Ronald

“He allows me to drive Sno-drift because it’s the most technical, and there’s a lot of snow to cushion the blows when you don’t do things properly. We have a wonderful time, it’s a great event, the people here are just awesome. Yea, grassroots rally, everybody helps everybody, I think it’s the highest community motorsport”

Roads that would usually only see a handful of cars per day, were lined with hundreds of spectators waiting to see the next world-class racer slide around a corner sideways at 50 plus miles an hour.

According to economists, this weekend will bring over 1.5 million dollars into Montmorency county and the surrounding area.

Lining up for practice

Lining up for practice

With such a positive impact on not only the racers, but the surrounding community as well, Sno-drift is bound to be around for while.

For more information, visit the sno-drift website here.