Racing is like anything else in life, to get good at it, it takes practice, competition. So, where do flat track racers go when they feel the need to race when the weather turns cold? Well here in Colorado, Harry’s Roamers Motorcycle Club (HRMC) members head for a private property with a small lake called, Rainbow Falls Mountain Trout Park, a few miles north (as the crow flies) of the more famous racing paradise known as Pikes Peak, to run the 47th annual Colorado State Championships Ice Racing Series.
What started in 1929 with Harry Tagaris and a group of his buddies has turned into one of the oldest active motorcycle clubs in America (official AMA charter dates to 1933) and certainly the oldest in Colorado. HRMC is dedicated to promoting the sport of Motorcycling, the Colorado State Championship Ice Racing Series, regional vintage races, and “as many half mile races we can” each year. The club also sponsors several road runs each year, ending up with the infamous Turkey Run each November.
So on Sundays during January and early February, sun or snow, in temps ranging from down right balmy (sunny and above 30) to outright frigid (below zero), multiple generations of motorcycle enthusiasts gather at the alter of frozen water to race, spend time with friends and family, and generally have an awesome time.
And race they do. There are 36 classes, consisting of bikes, quads, with or with out studded tires, and many more. It is amazing how fast the studded tire classes are! And with Mom, dad, the kids, even grandma and grandpa getting into the action, the racing was non-stop. Literally, no sooner than one class left the start line, the next was close behind on the grid. 4 lap heat races in the morning, a short intermission for lunch, and quickly back to racing for the mains in the afternoon. The days are kind of short this time of year, so everybody pitches in when they are not racing to make sure everything goes smoothly.
I managed to pick a day with warmth and sunshine to make the hour or so drive down from Denver last Sunday to watch and photograph the races with my friend Rita, who has never experienced any racing, let alone ice racing (see below for her experience in words and photos). Was she in for a treat! I, in the meantime, had set a goal to really work on my panning technique. Come a way with one or two really great pan shots, as well as some great sharp action shots of pack racing at it’s best.
Check out the HRMC website for race dates and directions.
Here is a selection of my favorite shots from the day. This was week 3 and I plan on making the finals on Sunday, February 10th. I hope to see you there! It’s a short, scenic drive down highway 67, and the entrance to the lake is between Deckers and Woodland Park. Just look for the “Ice Racing today” sign. I also hope to see the beautiful bald eagle that watches over the proceedings from the pine trees overlooking this little piece of paradise.
From Rita Palin:
Over the last few years, whenever I would see my friend Rick and we would talk photography, he would gush about shooting this race or that race and how much fun it was. This was something I wanted to try, but when Rick invited me to go along with him to the ice races, I couldn’t resist the invitation. Sunday dawned sunny and crisp, a perfect Colorado winter day. My career in photography has generally revolved around the concept of keeping your subject as still as possible, arrange the lighting to suite your needs, focus, frame, and start to shoot as many frames as it takes to get what you need. Motorsports is a completely different animal! Press the shutter release and it is done quick, as quick as the vehicles going around the track. A bit like gambling, you win some, you lose some. This type of racing was very adrenalin filled and exciting, and something I hope to experience again and again. Hope to see you at the track!