Ice Car Racing

By Arjun N.

Ultimate ice car racing is not that common of a sport. Normally in the winter what everyone does is ski or snowboard or something like that, but some people also do ice car racing and ice motorbike racing. Welcome to Nascar on Ice. Across Minnesota, locals are racing specially crafted cars around tracks on the thick frozen lakes, careening and colliding at speeds up to 60 mph. Photographers Jenn Ackerman and Tim Gruber are right there in the middle of it, even hopping into the passenger seat for that perfect shot.

A Minneapolis husband and wife team first learned about the sport in 2013. They came across a cardboard sign with the words “Ice racing” scrawled across and an arrow pointing towards a nearby lake. The pair decided to investigate, and burst upon a dozen or so cars barreling across the frigid tundra. They knew they had to find out more. “It was pretty organic,” Gruber says. “Just stumble upon a sign and next thing you know, there’s your next project.”

The pair have since photographed around 10 racing events around northern Minnesota for their series Frozen Speed. While there is an official organization for the sport, Ackerman and Gruber prefer to document the laid-back environment of smaller, more off-beat races. Most occur between January and March when the ice is an ideal 18-inches thick, and last around three hours. Since the unofficial race schedules can be random, Ackerman and Gruber rely on racers to find out when the next event will be.