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Auto racing: NASCAR drivers take to the ice of Allouez Bay Saturday in Superior for special event

NASCAR Xfinity Series driver David Starr and others are looking forward to an ice-racing experience like none other.

Man driving a car on a frozen lake.
Mark Androsky of Superior, a member of the Lake Superior Ice Racing Association rboard, races his car atop the ice of Allouez Bay in Superior. Androsky’s friend, Barry Sinex, was in the car with him, capturing the photo. Both men helped bring “NASCAR on Ice,” a stock car ice-racing event featuring professional drivers — Saturday, Jan. 29 at Allouez Bay in Superior — to fruition.<br/><br/><br/><br/><br/>
Photo courtesy of Barry Sinex
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DULUTH — NASCAR Xfinity Series driver David Starr was talking at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia last October with his sponsor, Barry Sinex of Duluth, and Sinex’s good buddy, Mark Androsky of Superior, about a rather far-fetched idea they had kicked around earlier in the summer that had suddenly gotten more serious.

“Usually when they say something, they back up what they say,” Starr said.

The idea was to have NASCAR drivers come up to Duluth-Superior to do some ice racing this winter, and Saturday, Jan. 29, that idea will come to fruition with “NASCAR on Ice” on Allouez Bay in Superior.

Hosted by the Lake Superior Ice Racing Association, the event features NASCAR drivers Starr, Stephen Leicht, Josh Reaume and Jonathan Cuevas joining regulars such as Androsky for an afternoon of ice racing featuring full-sized stock cars.

Why? For hardened racers like Starr, why not?

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“My reaction to this was, ‘Absolutely. Let’s do it, let’s go for it,’” Starr said. “What a cool idea. This is just totally new to me … how do you get traction? I guess there are spikes, or studs, on the tires. Man, I can’t wait to see this. I’ve never seen anything like it. Just all of it. It’s just very intriguing.

NASCAR1.jpg
Driver David Starr of Dallas competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Starr is one of the NASCAR drivers expected to compete Saturday, Jan. 29, in “NASCAR on Ice,” a stock car ice-racing event on Allouez Bay in Superior.
Submitted photo

“It’s about the passion, that people love racing that much they want to race on the friggin’ ice. All forms of racing, not just stock car or IndyCar or dirt car, I’m a fan of it, and you must love the stuff pretty bad if you want to race on ice. I can’t wait.”

The track, located off 44th Ave. East in Superior near the Tipsy Beaver Bar, will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, with the first race at noon, second race at 1 p.m. and third race at 2 p.m.

There will be a winner’s presentation at 3 p.m., a sponsor’s dinner at 5 p.m. and an awards presentation at 7 p.m. There will also be a meet and greet at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Gronk’s Grill and Bar in Superior.

General admission is $5, with children under 12 admitted free. If you want to meet the drivers and crews, pit passes are $15 (for more information, go to nascaronice.com).

For about the past five years Starr has been sponsored by Sinex’s company, Sinex Transport, a Superior-based owner-operator trucking company, and considers Sinex a great friend.

“So last summer at Michigan I was talking to David about ice racing up here, and he got really excited about it,” Barry Sinex said. “He said, ‘I’d love to come up here and go ice racing.’ And then he goes, ‘Can I bring some of my friends?’

They will use the same cars Lake Superior Ice Racing Association regulars race on winter weekends on Allouez Bay.

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“They’ve got schedules they’ve got to deal with, and it’s two weeks away from Daytona, but these guys are really excited about coming,” Sinex said. “They’re all really crazy about the idea. These guys are from North Carolina, Texas and California; they’re not from cold weather. People up here know about people driving on ice, and it’s, ‘OK, they’re driving on ice.’ You go anywhere else, they think you’re nuts. They just got such a kick out of it.”

Sinex said Jeffrey Earnhardt — grandson of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt — really wanted to come but is incredibly busy.

Sinex said he wanted to bring in some more, then laughed saying, “I could only afford so many.” If more local sponsors come on board, more drivers could be on board for future events.

“I only got started on this about a month ago,” Sinex said. “Next year we’ll be in a much better place to get everybody sponsored well ahead of time and have it well organized. This year is more like a test year for it.”

Starr, 54, a Houston native, was reached by phone Monday night at his home in Dallas. He said the high temperature had reached about 64 degrees in Dallas that day. It was 3 in Duluth but soon dropped to -3.

“I can’t comprehend that,” Starr said. “That’s nuts, man, unbelievable.”

The forecast for the Zenith City for Saturday calls for a high of 21, downright balmy for Northlanders in January.

Starr started racing at age 13 at the local dirt track in Houston and said he had “raced anything with a motor and wheels on it,” but he has never done anything like this before.

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This upcoming season will be his 25th in NASCAR. He has finished as high as sixth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in the 2015 season opener at Daytona. He is also a four-time winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and raced in the NASCAR Cup Series.

“Being from Texas, I’m used to 100 degrees, and then Duluth, Minnesota, it’s negative 3 degrees,” Starr said. “I don’t believe I’ve ever been in negative any type of weather, and then to understand that they are racing cars on a lake that’s frozen? That’s nuts (he laughed). It’s just so different from my upbringing. It’s just so ludicrous. It’s crazy. I just hope my fingers and hands will work well when I’m that frozen.”

Starr will fly in on Friday. He will make sure to bring plenty of warm clothes and will take any tips he can get about racing on ice. He said the temperature in a NASCAR cockpit can reach upwards of 150 degrees.

But he’s used to it. He’s from Texas. The heat doesn’t bother him and he said he doesn’t “operate well” when his body is cold.

Despite what is sure to be a chilly event, Starr was excited to try something different and meet new people, people who on the surface may appear different but certainly share a common bond with him, regardless of where they’re from.

“I’m like a kid in a candy store,” Starr said. “I like people and I like racing, and you’ve got to be pretty passionate to race cars on ice … I mean, how bad do you have ‘it?’ That’s pretty bad right there.

“Just to step into that environment is going to be something totally new to me. I’m just looking forward to the journey, all of it. Who knows how it’s all going to turn out, but I do know, it’s going to be fun.”

NASCAR ON ICE

What: Stock car ice racing event featuring NASCAR drivers Starr, Stephen Leicht, Josh Reaume and Jonathan Cuevas

When: Saturday, Jan. 29

Where: Superior’s Allouez Bay

Saturday’s schedule: The track will open at 10 a.m. with races at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets: General admission is $5, with children under 12 admitted free; pit passes $15

More information: nascaronice.com

Saturday’s forecast: Cloudy with a high of 21 and 10 mph wind

Related Topics: MOTORSPORTS
Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at jnowacki@duluthnew.com or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
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