Heading into its 68th season, the Adirondack Motor Enthusiasts Club is hoping to do something that it hasn’t done in its last two seasons: Race.
Due to a lack of suitable ice on area lakes in 2020 and 2021, the club hasn’t raced since 2019.
“It’s been tough the last two years,” AMEC President Mike Waterhouse said.
The 2022 season is off to another challenging start as the first two events of the season have been canceled.
The club is hoping to kick off its season Jan. 23 on Lake Algonquin in Wells.
“Next week is looking great,” Waterhouse said. “We’re optimistic that we’ll be able to get out there and race.”
The club offers a variety of different classes for racers, including super modified open, super modified closed, modified, all-wheel drive, stock sportsman, modified street legal (two-wheel drive), modified street legal (four-wheel drive), street legal studded (two-wheel drive), street legal studded (four-wheel drive), street legal unstudded (four-wheel drive), and street legal unstudded (four-wheel drive).
“It’s a unique sport,” Waterhouse said. “Most of the time car people have nothing to do in the winter, so this is a way for them to get out there and race. There aren’t many ice racing clubs for cars in the country, so we’re kind of our own little niche. We have members from all over the northeast. The members that have done it before, know how special ice racing is.”
Waterhouse is not just the club president, he is also a racer. In 2019, Waterhouse claimed the point title in the street legal unstudded (four-wheel drive) class.
Waterhouse, who lives in Voorheesville, became involved in the sport in 2008 after visiting the club’s website.
“I had only done some autocross events in parking lots,” he said. “One winter, I saw a car on a trailer with a car that had www.icerace.com sticker on it, and I went to the website to check it out. Once I did, I decided to give it a try. I’ve been racing since 2008. Ice racing is my main season and it’s what I enjoy most.”
Waterhouse isn’t alone, as the club features several dedicated members that check ice levels at lakes and set up tracks weekly.
“We have a dedicated group that’s for sure,” Waterhouse said. “Our idea of a short course is a half-mile, so we need a large area to set up our tracks and that takes a lot of plowing and set up.”
Prior to the 2020 and 2021 seasons, the club was getting some of the largest turnouts in its history.
“Our last season in 2019, we had some of our largest turnouts in a long time,” Waterhouse said. “Our members are champing at the bit to get back out there, so I expect our numbers to be good once we get going. I would expect around 60 or so racers to show up.”
The last AMEC race took place on Warners Lake in East Berne on March 9, 2019, something AMEC is hoping to change in 2022.
“We’ve been extremely close to being able to race the last couple of years,” Waterhouse said. “We require the lakes we race on to have 12 inches of good ice, and we drill into them each week to make sure there is enough ice to race safely. Safety is our main focus. Our sport is entirely dependent on Mother Nature.
“We’re more cautious and make sure that we have enough ice to race safely.”
With a lack of opportunities to get out on the ice, Waterhouse said the club has considered other possibilities over the past two years.
“After the first year of not being able to race, we kicked around lots of different ideas,” he said. “We looked at ways that we could hold a race on land, but the size of the area that you would have to flood to make ice on land would be difficult. Ice racing is what our members like to do, and our focus is definitely on ways to do that.”
AMEC is scheduled to open its season Jan. 23 on Lake Algonquin. Events are also scheduled for Peck’s Lake near Gloversville (Jan. 30, Feb. 6), Lake George (Feb. 12-13, Feb. 26-27), Warners Lake (Feb. 20) as well as a event slated for March 6 at a location to be announced. All race dates and locations are tentative due to ice conditions.
For more information on AMEC, visit www.icerace.com.