When You Just Can't Put Them Up – Ice Racing On Track In Escanaba

A new ice racing track in Escanaba Township, Michigan, will open for action sometime this winter – at least according to one of the project developers.

Local officials might toss a wrench into the works, but the developers are hoping all goes to plan for an early December opening.

“The track is looking fabulous,” said Bob Barron, one of the owners of properties being transformed into an ice-racing track.

The track’s foundation will be completed soon and then followed shortly thereafter by ice-building next month, and despite the unseasonably warm weather in Michigan this year, Escanaba rarely has a shortage of ice.

“There’s a huge amount of excitement and interest in this,” Barron said. He added that plans to develop the ice track have been in the works since 2005.

Ice racing has been a fixture on the Escanaba River for a long time, but the organizers have been searching for an alternative location which would accommodate a longer racing season – and be safer for participants and spectators – for the last few years according to Barron.

With the track situated on the river, Barron said some people were reluctant to go out on the ice. The ice surface of the track would tend to buckle on the corners, and the length of the racing season was dependent on the weather and the river. The new track will be located on 16 acres of land, has an inside oval of 3/16 of a mile, and since it’s built in-ground, the track will be flooded with water from a nearby pond beginning in early December. Barron said elevated land around the track will serve as grandstand areas to allow spectators to watch races from their vehicles. Barron said the site is expected to accommodate more than 300 vehicles.

With the local Lions Club set to manage track operations, Barron said organizers are also looking providing a radio feed to allow spectators to listen to a race announcer on their vehicle radios.

All might not be well though as local township officials are butting in on the fun.

Township officials say they are yet to authorize the track or the events and are seeking legal opinions. They say local zoning doesn’t allow for race tracks in the township and that required permits and a site plan have not been submitted by the developers.

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