Xtreme International Motorcycle Ice Racing has been rescheduled from a previous date to 7:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, at Kay Yeager Coliseum.
Competitors in Xtreme International Motorcycle Ice Racing hit ice hockey rinks on super high-performance motorbikes that accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds. The speed bikes have no brakes with the racers relying on skill and up to 2,000 spikes on their tires for traction and to hold the ice.
The 180-pound speed bikes are like a mountain bike frame that happen to be powered with an 4-stroke, 4-valve engine fueled with nitro methanol, with a maximum of 14,000 RPM’s, according to Anthony Barlow, the owner of Xtreme International Motorcycle Ice Racing and a 9-time world ice racing champion.
Ice racing dates back basically to the invention of motorcycles when owners started raced on frozen lakes, Barlow said with a laugh. The sport moved indoors around 1977 or so when motorcycles were modified to race in hockey rinks. Since then, competitors have further modified the engines that power the cycles. Barlow said 9 of every 10 speed bikes are built from kits.
Barlow, originally from England, came to America in 1998-99 to compete in ice racing and became the world champion indoor ice racer that season. He won the championship 3 times “and in 2003 started his extreme international ice racing league and they began racing in 2004.
Indoor ice racing is most popular in America and Canada because of available ice hockey rinks. He wanted to take the league to England last year to compete in his home country but was shut down by Covid-19.
The ages of the ice motorcycle racers ranges from as young as 11 to 48 and conceivable older, he said. “We have an 11-year-old that sometimes competes against the older cyclists, and I think I am the oldest at 48.”
“Ice racing is a completely different thing to any other sport. You’re in a hockey rink, doing 50 to 60 mph with no brakes. People think we’re crazy and we are, but you also have to have a set amount of calmness when you’re doing it.”
Crowds range in age from 5 to 85, he said. “It’s a family fun thing to watch.” There are professionals who compete from around the world. But in addition to the pros, “we normally let local riders ride. There are not many professional series where locals can race,” he said. “We’re expecting ‘local’ racers in Wichita Falls but it’s always last minute.”
International racers include David Melton from Scotland, Colby Long (“The Thunder from Down Under”) from Australia, Barlow “The British Bulldog,” and Barlow’s daughter, Renee. West Coast native Jay Maloney is up and coming. “There’s probably 12 or so pros and we fill it with locals, and sometimes the locals can go out and beat the pros.”
The standard speedway bikes competition features groups of 4 riders racing for 4 laps, and then the main event features the top 6 riders racing 6 laps. There are other competitions including Pro, Amateur and Youth Quads, Flat Track, Pit Bike and sometimes go-carts and unsteady quads. Barlow races the Speedway bike and Pro Quad events.
The races are super loud, he said, and they sell ear plugs, if people forget to bring them. The competitors also sign autographs after the races. Plus, there is league merchandise available including hats and hoodies, some of which feature their sponsor, Orange County Choppers.
Barlow said he was supposed to be retired by now, but last year he got sponsored by Orange County Choppers and they did a reality show, “Orange Chopper” featuring him, his daughter and Long.
Barlow loves the whole world of extreme ice racing. “The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and I’ve never been able to get out of bed. It’s the whole atmosphere. The Rolling Stones could have played the week before in the same arena, and you get to walk down the same hallways that they did.”
It will be Barlow’s first time to race in Wichita Falls, though he has previously raced in Texas in Dallas, McAllen and Laredo. Their league’s 2021 season title “If I have to explain, you wouldn’t understand” relates to what he calls the craziness of ice racing. Barlow explained that was a favorite saying of a since deceased friend.
Tickets start at $7.50 and can be purchased at wfmpec.com or by calling (940) 716-5555. There will also be a possibility for audience members to play Chuck-A-Puck and win a new 2020 Heritage Softtail, sponsored by Red River Harley Davidson.
This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Xtreme International Motorcycle Ice Racing comes to MPEC