February 9, 2017 · 8:42 AM

Craig Andrew of Twisted Shifter is at the heart of the growing sport of ice racing. / Todd Colin Vaughan/ Eckville Echo

The Second Gear Club ice race season is progressing and Craig Andrew of Twisted Shifter - based in Eckville, continues to be at the forefront of the thriving sport.

“It has been good,” he said, regarding the 2017 season. “We have been at Pigeon Lake the last three weeks and the ice has been solid. Everything’s been going really well and I think everyone is pretty happy.”

The races are divided up into three heats and each heat consists of six quick laps, meaning that ice races are about as fast as you get when it comes to motor sports.

“You’re out there going really quickly so you have to make things happen right at the start,” Andrew said.

The bikes used by the racers are generally unique to the rider and their creations are a large part of the joy ice racing can bring due to the endless possibilities of bike modifications.

“Most of them are modified,” Andrew said. “We try to put as much horsepower as we can into them. They all run special tires with racing studs in them to grip the ice. They probably grip better than pavement so its really sticky out there.

“Everyone has their own flavour for what they want. A lot of guys do their own motor work so they will have different motors and chassis’ on their bikes. Everyone is always trying different things to see what will work.”

While optics might suggest this sport is meant for mechanics, Andrew said this is incorrect and ice racers come from all walks of life.

“It’s everyone,” he said. “We have farmers, mechanics, real estate guys, meat-cutters, guys that run bike shops and I’m an electrician. It’s all over and it’s definitely growing.”

Andrew also has love for sharing the sport with others and helps run a practice track just outside the Town of Eckville.

“We have a practice track outside of Town,” he said. “We take out anyone who wants to go out there and ride some bikes. They can have a look-see and see if it interests them. We maintain the area so people can try it.”

Andrew’s love for ice racing is an inherited trait.

“My dad raced years ago in the early 90’s so I grew up around the sport,” he said, adding that many people bring their families out to the events because there is “a little of everything motorized.”

The next ice race is slated for February 19 at Parkland Beach on Gull Lake.

“They plow it so you can park right next to the track. It’s great entertainment,” explained Andrew.