Race Report from the Steel Shoe Fund Ice Race

| 24 January 2014 1:31 pm

Steel Shoe Fund 3-Hour Endurance Ice Race
Kettle Moraine Lake

By Tyler Porter
Photo by George Mack

Race Report by Tyler Porter
Travel does a funny thing to a person. Perhaps it’s stress. Whatever I’m experiencing right now, my eyes are tired from being covered by contact lenses, my butt is tired from being in an airplane seat – but my brain is wide open. I just got done penning the “InSLIDE Line” at, but I realize that I totally forgot to write about the race I did last weekend, the famous Steel Shoe Fund 3-Hour Endurance Ice Race!

The teams’ pit area. The number-80 bike is the 450 and the number-84 bike is the 250.

The teams’ pit area. The number-80 bike is the 450 and the number-84 bike is the 250.

Most of you know all about the cold snap we have suffered this year in the Midwest. They say it hasn’t been this cold in over 20 years, but being that I haven’t even scratched the 30 mark yet, I can’t ever remember days this cold. The great thing about travel is that, especially this time of year, my job allows me to be in some pretty warm climates. For instance, a week ago, I was working in L.A. and San Diego. Two days after that, I found myself in Campbellsport, Wisconsin, about to get my kicks on a nice, solid hunk of frozen water.

The Steel Shoe Fund Ice Race is a yearly event that raises money for injured dirt trackers – a very noble cause. The Sumner family, which organizes the event, seems to improve it each and every year, and this year things couldn’t have been better. The deep freeze leading up to the race meant that we had over 16 inches of ice to abuse, but there was enough snow on the lake that the course was easy to see. To top it off, the weather cooperated on the day of the race, and we were left with temperatures in the 30s! It was a “perfect storm” of awesomeness!

Seventy-two teams showed up to do battle, and for the front-runners, this race is a source of a year’s worth of pride for them. For a guy like me, it’s just a fun time on a motorcycle with your friends in a winter wonderland. Last year, my bike gave up the ghost in practice, sending my buddy Ion Stear and I packing up and leaving before the green flag ever flew. This year, however, George Mack stepped in and let me ride his equipment. We decided that we would field two teams, one in the Heavyweight class (for machines 250cc and up) and one in the Middleweight class (for machines from 201cc to 250cc).

Heading up the teams were George Mack, Grand National number 23 Jeffrey Carver Jr., and myself, on the Honda CRF450, and then team two was comprised of the same three, plus the help of Rob Williams, on a CR250.

While this is a purely fun event, once the green flag flies, I do get competitive. I try to hurry along the pit stops as much as we can. I like to organize who will go out when, try to estimate fuel mileage, and just generally pretend that me saving five seconds during the pit stops will help us win our class. What can I say – I like to hustle.

Jeffrey Carver started on the 450 and George Mack elected to start on the 250. I took pictures during the first lap and then stayed warm in the van until it was time to trade out. Both bikes came in at pretty close to the same time, and Rob wanted the 250, so I hopped on the 450. What a magical ice machine that big red beast was! With the Boughner Racing Suspension on it, tuned specifically for ice, combined with a studded knobby tire instead of the typical dual-sport tire that I am used to, everything was just working flawlessly!

On the 6.5-mile course, with probably 75 turns in it, it took me a few laps to get a rhythm going, but once I did, I had more fun on that motorcycle than I’ve had in a long time. The high lines on the track were smooth, and that knobby rear wouldn’t get clogged with “snow” like my traditional ice tires do. It was also nice to be passing people often during my laps. That’s a big confidence boost!

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To be honest with you, George Mack and Jeffrey Carver did most of the heavy lifting. We completed 17 laps on the 450, and I was responsible for seven of those. Because of the way the pit stops worked out, I never actually got on the 250 at all, except for in practice. That’s okay; the 450 was pure money, and I was as happy as a camel on a Wednesday riding that thing.

Jeffrey Carver brought the 450 home, while George Mack came to the checkers on the two-smoker. Poor George Mack had a flat on the 250, and there was no telling how long it had been that way. We finished 55th overall on the 250 and 29th overall on the 450. Classwise, we were 14th on the 450 in the Heavyweight class and 28th, I think, on the 250 – not too shabby for a perfect day with some good friends!

We had a great time, and we are already putting things together for next year. This event is so much fun, and everybody is just there to raise money for a great cause and maybe earn some friendly bragging rights for the year. Teams share fenders, fuel, wheels, gloves, whatever to help another rider out. It’s really what racing is all about. Congratulations go to J.R. Schnabel, who not only won the race, but he did it alone… he’s the Iron Man!

Thank you all for reading, and thank you even more for the support. Until next time, keep on believing in the sport!
– Tyler Porter

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Category: Endurance, Ice Racing, POV, Riders, Riders All, Riders' POV, Riders' Race Reports

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