Karting on Ice Minnesota - 2023 Season "Blog"

Not even sure if blog is the right term but figured I’d put periodic updates and whatnot here as we build out the track and generally scramble to get things ready for 2023.

First couple of grooming passes happened this week

Here’s what we use to groom the track and pack the base of the track.
We call it “OK Groomer”, it’s a kinda makeshift handmade snowmobile trail groomer I made for this purpose.

Track layout (Phone GPS doesn’t quite show how tight the turns are)


Gonna be chilly there I hear. Good luck with the season. May your circuit never melt.

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As much as I love karting and would love to try it on the snow, right now even I wouldn’t want to be out there scooting around in this 10-30° below garbage.

Track looks awesome though. Cool to have a little road course.

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Not gonna like it sucks out here right now. Track is about half a mile long and even driving the truck around really happy with the layout.

We did get a good snowfall though so we’ll have a good base layer. Have not had that in previous years.

Below is Frank. Frank is our resident test mule decked out with livery from its previous owners book they published and a random Frankenstein sticker on the number plate. Hence the name.

This year we’re switching to wet clutches and chain drive (428) from dry clutch and belt. We literally burned up 50 clutches and almost as many belts this year. Although I just found out these clutches might not fit our crankshafts, so that could be a $5000 mistake. Getting conflicting info so we’ll see when they arrive. The downside of having oddball engines I guess.

Also trying out a product called frogskyns, a hydrophobic material that should help reduce the icing issues we had last year. Trying it on the air filter so it’s has some support. Testing so far has been positive, but it’s hard to really know how well it’s stands up until we have the general public run with it. We get a crazy looking cloud of mist for 3-4ft above the track once it gets going properly. At that point, the theory of cold air holding less moisture goes out the window.

I should have just bought a liquor store.


I think they make wet clutch system for GX270, pretty sure that’s what they use at SKC. Not sure if they make one for bigger Honda motors.

Cool track! Picking dog poop is enough outdoor exercise for this in this temperature for me.

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They do and those clutches are very easy to find.

We have built 460’s with a Honda “Q” crank which is 1” diameter and about 25cm longer compared to the 270/290/390. We also need additional friction plates to handle the additional torque. So Noram have made something custom for us.

I constantly question that decision (Vs repowering with a more common engine/clutch) but it’s done now. Plus those 460’s are pretty spicy. Probably somewhere near KA power level.


Sooo yeah, every year is different.

This year we changed the ticket offer from $29.97 for 10mins (Plus helmet rental) to $79.97 for 20mins (helmet rental included).

Last years $29.97 was just not sustainable operationally, physically or financially. Getting people in and out of karts seems to take forever compared to a typical indoor or outdoor track. Basically we all worked our tails off (Including wife and kids) and sacrificed our winter to sponsor ice karting for the general public :smiley: I made a commitment to my wife and kids that we would not have to do that again. I have some ideas on how we could make a $29 package work in the future, but it’s not something we can do right now with what we have… and I’m a big proponent of running with what you have until you can’t1

Reception on the increased pricing was generally good. For every email we got pushing back, we got over 100 ticket sales. (Plus we got pushback on the $29 deal last year anyway). We didn’t just jack up the price, but also added value with a much longer track, included helmet rental and running (slightly) larger groups. I’m also planning to run lap timing (We’re trying out RaceFacer this season), but have not announced that yet as we still have lots to do before that’s setup. Also purchasing a large warming space for people including more corporate groups.

This year we got a LOT more snow to work with and quickly learned that the home made equipment we used up to this point needed some changes to cope as did our techniques. I did a little “snow whispering” where I lay on the groomer to watch and listen to it working. It started out (and probably still is) a stupid idea but actually turned out to be very useful.

Also, the snow is taking on a LOT more water than in previous years. Combined with the temps being all over the place and a water truck destroying part of the track, we’re behind schedule.

Karts are also lagging a little due to niggling issues like wrong seals being sent out, waiting for hardware to arrive and general challenges shoehorning a 460cc engine with the heavy duty wet clutch it requires on the karts.

With all the changes this year, I think Jan is going to be a relaxed schedule to get our operations and staffing lined up, run ads in Feb (if needed) with a more aggressive schedule and then use March for makeup days for the inevitable weather cancellations we’ll have in Feb.

Overall I think this might be the last year we work from this particular location at the fairgrounds. Don’t get me wrong, they have been fantastic to us, but we’re at a point where the logistics of operating there as a temporary thing just makes this fairly unworkable and expensive because of the compressed time frame we have to setup and take down, as well as having to truck water in.

To top that all off, Minnesota just became the ice gokarting capital of the world (Citation needed). A resort on a lake to the north of us purchased 5 or 6 used Margay Ignites with wets, studded them up and has started operating up there. I learned about it when their insurance agent messaged us asking how we got insurance :smiley:

I explained it took me two months to find insurance and that you probably won’t get ice karting insurance from karting insurers. It also might be extra difficult with running racing karts with exposed axles and wheels.

They are charging $19 for 10 mins, running 4 karts at a time. So a much lower price point than us. In their case they have equipment and space that they can leverage from the resort so their cost base is probably a little better than ours.

It’ll be an interesting few weeks. That’s all for now, I need to get back to work on staffing, karts and track building…


Well, everytime I go rental lapping (which, admittedly has been a while), I do 5+ sessions. The 10 min sessions are too short since it’s pretty likely there will be a few slowdowns as they extricate someone from the wall or whatever. I’d be thrilled for 2x sessions.

The only thing that makes me wonder is fatigue. For us, 20 mins in a rental I no big deal but for a karting beginner, it might be a bit much?

Luckily ice karting is not as hard on the body and arms as indoor/outdoor and the Sodi rentals don’t have a lot of caster. The only thing is that you need to be appropriately dressed for the conditions of course.

Last year we got feedback that (Like you said) ten mins was too short, especially as spin outs are more common on ice. We also noticed a significant number of customers that bought three packs of ten mins were done after two sessions. Given that every time we stop the track to change drivers we’re at risk of getting behind schedule, we opted for 20min sessions.


Also, pics needed. 20 Chars

Kart livery as marketing idea…

I wonder if there’s any legs to the idea of partnership (promotion) using livery as ad space.

Imagine Minnesota Ice Karting brought to you by Thunder Tacos… the Thunder taco info/branding on livery.

The book livery, basically.

Absolutely, one of our videos has about 2m views. The attention that gokarting on ice grabs was part of the whole seed. There’s a lot of untapped potential there. We started some discussions with engine manufacturers but didn’t quite get things wrapped up in time. At the least it’s a good platform to be able to say “xxx engine is the premier choice for harsh, cold conditions”

Also, today was a good day, blew up a motor :muscle:

OK, currently not sleeping so might as well post an update…

After many nights of work, battling Mother Nature over the course of six weeks…. We finally reached a point where the track was drivable…

We held a soft open event on Sat/Sun, relaxed schedule running up to five karts at once to shake things down. Yes, we did our own testing but have come realize that the REAL test is when you have customers come drive and the karts are used session after session. We used the old booking system for this one, but we’re planning a migration to RaceFacer this week. (Terrible name IMO, but the platform might work well for us)

Feedback has been very positive so far. Had some comments on the acceleration of the karts being pretty decent and people are really enjoying the variety of turns.

So far the conversion from belt to chain, along with moving to a wet clutch and changing the gear ratio is performing well. Reliability is greatly improved over last year (Zero drivetrain issues over the weekend, vs multiples per day).

With the track being cut a bit more open than I had planned, the engines are spending quite a bit of time in the upper RPM range. More than I’m comfortable with so I might add a tooth or two to the drive sprocket and see where that lands. We could also tighten up the track in the S curve sections but that can create a bit of a bottleneck so we’ll have to decide what might be the best approach.

AMB decoder and loop arrived last Friday, so we’ll try to get that installed early this week and have it integrated with Racefacer. Thanks to TJ Halsema for giving us a solid deal on the decoder and AMB for drop shipping the “activated” loop required for rental transponders which are non powered.

This week will be the first real test as we open bookings, run more karts together, compress the schedule and maybe even run an ad campaign for the first fine.