Ice Speedway racing 2018 Saturday heats at Thialf

At the close of the ice skating season there’s one last time to shine for the ice stadium. After all the ice skate races the final act on the ice is wrecking the layers of ice for real. Fast motorcycles, big spikes and a lot of adrenaline! Welcome to Ice Speedway racing…

There are two racing days: Saturday and Sunday and each day has 23 heats. Every heat lasts four laps and has four racers. Assuming all goes according to plan, that’s it. However, whenever a racer falls, the race is stopped. Barriers have to be rebuilt, the motorcycle has to be removed and the rider can hopefully walk away or is carried of on a stretcher. The races is then restarted, minus one racer. But before anyone is hurt, before the races start we first get an introduction round on the tractors.

Ice racing in Thialf – click for full set

The thing with these motorcycles is that they race with spikes in the wheels. Huge spikes! And when you get hit by one of those spinning wheels, it’s definitively going to leave a mark. So it’s not strange that the race is stopped when a racer takes a dive.

Ice racing in Thialf – click for full set

Luckily most races go as they should and most of the riders were able to walk away from their falls without injury. I only saw the stretcher once.

Ice racing in Thialf – click for full set

The heats are fast and furious, there are two starters lining up the racers. One’s a long time starter who’s in his 46’th year of service for the club and the other is his intended successor. And as the ice takes quite a beating from the spiked tires, every so many races the track is put back into order by four tractors brushing and flattening the track. In the mean time the oldie is repainting the start-line.

Ice racing in Thialf – click for full set

It’s been a few years since my last visit to ice racing, that was when it was still held in Assen, but we’ve since lost the ice skating track and these days the races are held in Thialf, the ice skating temple of the Netherlands and I have to say it feels like an improvement, the track is awesome and the light (much needed for photography) is much better.

Ice racing in Thialf – click for full set

Every race is worth points and during the heats the Russian Dmitri Koltakov gained enough points to be declared world champion which he celebrated with a wheelie. The Russians were strong today as the final heat, to declare the winner of the day, was a complete Russian affair, again won by Dmitri Koltakov.

Ice racing in Thialf – click for full set

On Sunday they’d repeat the whole dance around the track again for another 23 heats, however as the weather was fabulous I preferred to be on my two wheeled racing machine in the sun. But it was great, great fun!

Ice racing in Thialf – click for full set

Click any of the images for the full set, or click here!