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Want To Race Around A Frozen Pond At 80-Miles-Per-Hour?

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Want To Race Around A Frozen Pond At 80-Miles-Per-Hour?


Want To Race Around A Frozen Pond At 80-Miles-Per-Hour?

Want To Race Around A Frozen Pond At 80-Miles-Per-Hour?

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

The Latchkey Ice Cup is called the "Daytona of the North." It features about 60 home-modified cars racing around a frozen pond. You don't need a license to race a stock car on the ice, so underage teenagers are able to drive in their own events.


It's called the Daytona of ice racing, racing cars on sheer ice. For the last 25 years in New Hampshire, the Lakes Region Ice Racing Club hosts what's called the Latchkey Cup. It's a charity event for cancer research. For a track, they use the frozen surface of Berry Pond in Moultonborough, New Hampshire. So, what kind of maniac would enter a sport like this? Correspondent Sean Hurley went to the Latchkey to find out.

SEAN HURLEY: It's 10 degrees out on Berry Pond, and three plows clear the track for the next race.

(Soundbite of snowplow)

HURLEY: I kneel down in the snow alongside Chris Taylor. He's 11 years old. He wears an oversized red hoodie, and his hands are tucked inside his sleeves for warmth.

Do you have any advice for your sister this time?

Mr. CHRIS TAYLOR: Stay on the inside instead of the out.

HURLEY: In her first heat this morning, Chris Taylor's sister Alicia has bad luck driving on the outside.

(Soundbite of cars)

HURLEY: As the plows exit, a half dozen small Hondas, Fords and VWs file onto the freshly cleared ice. For the second heat of this junior-class race, dressed out like stock cars, these Rabbits and Escorts have special driver seats and red-and-yellow numbers taped or spray-painted on their battered doors. Alicia's grandfather, Jack Cook, makes last minute adjustments to the car.

Mr. JACK COOK: I built this, just built this car for my granddaughter, and this is her first race tonight. And she never drove a standard before, too, so I'm a little nervous.

HURLEY: Alicia's father, Matt Taylor, tops off the tank and steps back.

Mr. MATT TAYLOR: I get the adrenaline rush watching her, and it's more nerve-wracking than if I'm racing.

HURLEY: In her first heat, Alicia got into some trouble.

Ms. ALICIA TAYLOR (Racer, 2009 Latchkey Ice Cup): I spun out once and got in the snow bank twice. I came in fifth out of six cars, but...

HURLEY: And how fast were you going?

Ms. TAYLOR: I don't know. I don't look.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HURLEY: Do you have a speedometer there?

Ms. TAYLOR: Yeah.

Mr. M. TAYLOR: Yeah, she has. She does.

HURLEY: And how old are you, anyway?

Ms. TAYLOR: Thirteen.

HURLEY: Thirteen years old. She can't drive on the street, but she can race on the ice. The day before her first race, Alicia practiced in her grandparents' driveway, five or 10 minutes in the driver seat, and then this, trial by ice. I asked Marsha Chase, one of the event organizers, how fast these kids go.

Ms. MARSHA CHASE: Ah, they can go anywhere up to 50, 60, 70.

HURLEY: But would she put her own kid out there?

Ms. CHASE: Actually, that 40 car right there, that's my daughter.


Ms. CHASE: She's been doing it since she turned 13.

HURLEY: Alicia's parents and grandfather watch from the pits, and then the whole family leans toward the action as the cars rumble at the starting line. There is a kind of inhaling emptiness, and then the flag falls.

(Soundbite of cars racing on ice)

HURLEY: The cars slide across the ice table like a spread deck of cards, spiked tires throwing a haze of snow and frost into the air. The entire race takes place under a cloud of snow. Alicia is not following her brother's advice. She rides the outside rail until the snow bank takes her and spins the car in a full circle. She guns it, catches the pack, and manages a fifth-place finish. Third-place finisher, Allison Ripley, and today's winner, Justin Eldridge, are both 14 years old. As Allison explains, this is their driving school, out here on the ice, on the pond.

Ms. ALLISON RIPLEY (Third Place, 2009 Latchkey Ice Cup): Well, I don't really drive down the road, because I'm not old enough, but I've had a little bit of practice, and it's quite a bit different because you're sliding a lot more.

Mr. JUSTIN ELDRIDGE (Winner, 2009 Latchkey Ice Cup): Yeah.

Ms. RIPLEY: Yeah.

Mr. ELDRIDGE: Really weird, like, you talk to people about racing. They're like, how can you race? You're not old enough, and you do.

Ms. RIPLEY: Yeah.

HURLEY: After posing for photos, Alicia Taylor joins her brother on the snowy crest to watch their grandfather and father settle together on the starting line. Once again, stillness gathers in the air, and then the flag falls. Like father, like son. Like father, like daughter.

(Soundbite of cars racing on ice)

HURLEY: For NPR News, I'm Sean Hurley.

(Soundbite of cars racing on ice)

(Soundbite of music)

BRAND: Day to Day is a production of NPR News, with contributions from I'm Madeleine Brand.

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