Cadillac Ice Race Draws Hundreds Of Bikers To Lake Cadillac, Prioritizing Safety

Racing on ice.

This thrill draws hundreds onto the lake with a goal in mind: finishing safely.

The AMA Ice Race Grand Championships grace the frozen surface of Lake Cadillac every February.

Around 400 racers braved the conditions to race on the national level.

Safety is taken seriously.

“You get up to the line and the green light goes, and it’s all business,” says race promoter Jeremiah Sherman.

The sounds of engines roaring across the top of Lake Cadillac is commonplace this time of year.

It’s an event adrenaline-junkies love, full of a Northern Michigan-brand of danger.

“This racing is actually physically demanding, extremely,” Sherman says. “Fighting gravity for long periods of time and the elements.”

He says that thrill defines the race.

Precautions must be taken.

“We’ve got non-studded and we have studded,” Sherman says. “Those are for the studded classes and those are three sixteenth-inch carbide and hardened studs.”

The ice presents hazards that racers like Delmer Dodd have been willing to face for decades.

He’s been doing this since the 1960’s.

“This is a lot of fun,” Dodd says. “It’s a little safer than some of the dirt tracks that I used to do.”

Even with his experience, Delmer knows anything can happen.

“The class I run in, rubber tire, you don’t get to speed up,” Dodd says. “Usually when you fall, you just slide off. You got to use a little more throttle control.”

“It’s something that father and son can do together,” says Larry Helvie, a second-year ice racer from Owosso. “It’s great.”

Larry Helvie and his son, Ryan, say the same precautions go for those not racing on the ice.

Know your terrain and be ready with proper gear.

“We run a rubber tire class, where we don’t have the studs so it’s a little bit more slippery and technical,” Ryan Helvie says.

That way, the ambulance on-site is just a precaution.

“Ride careful, that’s all,” Dodd says.