Minnesota Ice Driving Preview

By: Steve Nelson

If you think driving on a wet road can be challenging, try it on ice. That’s what attendees get to experience at ice driving events held by Audi Club Glacier Lakes Chapter. In Minnesota, it gets cold in the winter and the lakes freeze over. Each year, the Glacier Lakes Chapter schedules four ice driving events in January and February on Cynthia Lake just south of Minneapolis. The events are open to both Audi Club members and non-members. Audi Club Glacier Lakes also accepts teenage drivers from 15 to 17 with a valid driving permit or license. Teens must also have their parent or legal guardian present at the event.

Whether these events take place is determined by ice conditions on the lake, and scheduled events don’t always happen. An event won’t start without a minimum of 15 inches of ice for safety. A week prior to the event, holes are drilled in several locations on the lake to confirm the ice thickness. The ice also needs to be smooth under the snow with no heaves, rough areas or other obstructions. A request is made to Audi Club for our insurance certificate that is then submitted to the Sheriff’s Office for an event permit.

The day before the event, organizers have the paddock and exercise areas plowed of snow. The club creates three exercise areas. One is an oval with a slalom up on one length and an accident-avoidance maneuver on the return, both set up with cones. The second exercise is a 70-foot diameter, open skid pad where the driver attempts to drift around the circle using only the throttle. Finally, a 1.5-mile road course that is very popular with the attendees is also cleared.

Once everyone arrives and checks in, organizers hold a driver’s meeting and explain the exercises and related criteria. Safety is always important, and things can happen quickly on the ice. A noon break allows everyone to head to the Minnesota Horse and Hunt Club, about a mile away, for lunch. Then it’s back to the lake for an afternoon of more ice driving.

Even our all-wheel drive Audi models with winter tires have challenges driving on ice, and occasionally someone goes off track into the unplowed snow and gets stuck.  For this reason, we instruct the attendees to install their tow hooks prior to beginning the exercises.  Several members bring their pickup trucks or SUVs to provide towing services for the attendees.

At the end of the event, attendees leave the ice after either refreshing their ice skills or learning new ones. One doesn’t understand how unforgiving driving on ice is until you try it. If you want to challenge your driving skills, come join us.

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