Slip Sliding Away on the 1954 Minnesota Ice Races

Ice racing still happens on the frozen waters near St. Paul, Minnesota. But seeing Siatas and 356s and Allards wheel to slipping wheel is no less a tremendous sight out on the ice in this film of the St. Paul Winter Carnival Winter Ice Races of 1954.

As with many of the races of the period, I’m always astonished to see the variety of machines out there mixing it up. Not just sportscars of various sizes, but several American hot rodders joining the race as well

Worth watching just for the onboard from director Tom Countryman—who was a fixture in the upper-midwest vintage racing scene for decades. It really shows the delicate balance required for this very different kind of off-road racing. Glorious.

Thanks for sending this in, Paul!

Grand Opening Party at Porsche Minneapolis

Whew! I thought Monday’s ride and rally around town brought out some great cars… and it did. But last night’s party had a parking lot full of amazing Porsches of all vintages. The 918 and Singer from the previous day were there, but joined by an astounding collection of Porsches ranging from a 959 to a gorgeous 914-6 and no less than three 4-cam powered machines: a 356 Carrera, an RS60, and a ’58 Speedster.

The party and ribbon cutting happening inside, though, was no less impressive (ok. maybe a little less impressive than an RS60 with Sebring history). There were signature cocktails of course, and never-ending spreads of wonderful food, and a cigar roller, and the most spotless service area I’ve ever seen, and Magnus Walker working the crowd and signing posters, and a custom microbrew created just for the event. It all added up to a wonderful evening. Congratulations to the organizers.

PCNA COO Joe Lawrence was on hand to cut the ribbon

PCNA COO Joe Lawrence was on hand to cut the ribbon

Porsche Minneapolis was kind enough to loan me a 911 for the day. I think I’ll always prefer the vintage air-cooled variants of the 911, but you can still readily feel the legacy of Porsche’s motorsport heritage in the 991. Somehow despite all the revolutionary changes in every manner of engineering that goes into the modern 911, it still feels like a 911. A little quieter perhaps; a little more comfortable; a little less likely to spin on your when you’re decelerating in a curve—but it still retains enough of the 911 spirit that I can still imagine myself gritting my teeth through a turn on the Nordschleife or Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie in a stripped down 911R or RSR. I have personally been debating between a contemporary Cayman or SC-era 911 for my next car… after a day spent with modern Porsches, I think the only real solution is to get both… and maybe a few more for good measure.

A Weekend in the North Woods

I spent part of Labor Day weekend at Minnesota’s Brainerd International Raceway for their Jack Pines Sprints racing weekend. Fans of CanAm racing will better recognize the Donnybrooke Speedway name as host to several events in 1970-72 where Denny Hulme, Peter Revson, and Francois Cevert took home victories.

The weekend also featured the Muscle Car Shootout on the drag strip that forms part of the main straight in the track’s 3.1 mile configuration. Thankfully, 2009’s addition of a 2.5 mile configuration of the track means that road racing and drag racing can happen at the same time.

This event was also a major personal milestone in that it was my 2-year-old son’s first vintage race weekend. Having him perched on my shoulders for much of the day didn’t make photography any easier, but here are some of the snapshots that I was able to grab in my now standard one-handed-phone-cam-while-steadying-a-squirmy-toddler photographic method.

Wandering back and forth between these two very different motorsport events is a great way to gain a greater appreciation for the variety within out sport. Seeing that there were many spectators trying to follow both the drags and the several road racing events of the weekend makes me realize that there’s less division between race fans than many motorsports outlets would have you believe.

Vintage sportscars on the twisty bits. Vintage Detroit iron on the drags. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday, eh?