The 2005 Bridgestone/Firestone Street Legal Unstudded Class Championship
As some of you know, this past June A.M.E.C. voted in a new division of the popular Bridgestone Street Legal Unstudded class for 4WD and AWD cars called SLU-4. This was a result of my elderly 4WD Nissan Sentra wagon being able to outrun the quickest 2WD SLU cars regularly this past season. Prior to this past season when we ran studded winter tires, the best finish for an AWD car was a third back in 2001, followed by a single win for Jeff Denmeade in his 1.8 liter Impreza sedan in 2004. They were not considered a threat to a well driven FWD performance car back then. But on unstudded winter tires the AWD cars are clearly dominant, hence their own class for 2006.
What is A.M.E.C. Ice racing and how does it work?
This is contact-free wheel to wheel racing. Nextel Cup people with "rubbin's racin" attitudes are asked to stay home. Our Bridgestone sponsored Street legal classes are fastest growing and the most popular ice racing classes because people know they can come out to run their cars for just $45 a day and drive them to work the next day. OK let's be honest here, there's no guaranty out there, but incidences are quite rare. Here's a quote from the "Getting Started" page from our site that explains it pretty well:
"This is by far the cheapest (and easiest) way to experience ice racing. You can click on the "rules" section on the mainpage for specific rules, but in a nutshell, the SL classes are for unmodified, street driven automobiles (not pickups or SUV's) that weigh less than 3,200 lbs. [3,400 lbs. for AWD's]. Street Legal Unstudded class cars use Bridgestone Blizzak studless winter tires. SLU classes have a very low traction coefficient, and therefore don't require roll cages or safety harnesses, (although they are highly recommended and perfectly OK to have).
Other than a fire extinguisher and a Snell 95 or better helmet, all you need is an AMEC membership and a number on your doors! There are practice sessions each morning before the actual races. New racers often opt to start in the rear of the pack, to take their time learning the course and developing ice driving techniques. Each weekend, there is a different road course. Courses vary between 1 and 1.5 miles a lap. Although the SL class was originally considered a beginner's class, it has also proven to be a popular wintertime playground for experienced drivers too, from a variety of other forms of racing. The SL class is a gentleman's class, where guys and gals respect each other's cars, and drive accoordingly.
If you want to go ice racing, and have the best possible chance of racing completely dent-free, the SL or SLU classes are where you belong. In fact in 2003, AMEC members have voted in a No-Contact rule, which immediately ejects any racer who is involved in any amount of car contact, with loss of all points for that race. This of course cannot guaranty you will not be bumped into, but in SL however, contact is quite remote. It is worth noting that there were several late model 2000 and up automobiles racing in SL this past season, all ending the season without a scratch. There is NO prize money in AMEC ice racing. The whole reason we do it, is for FUN".
As a result of my post on the S.C.C.V. [Sports Car Club of Vermont] message board forums, we have aquired another new SLU-4 driver. Vermont's Jeff Collins will field a Mazda 323 GTX!
I tend to think that this class will really take off nicely with so many newer AWD cars on the road today. I mean lets face it, the first generation WRX's are now past their leases and can be bought with high miles. They're out there folks, time to bring them out on the ice.
Anyone want to tangle with a 90 h.p. Sentra?