LAPORTE -- On a typical Sunday in January, racers -- both men and women -- as well as fans and kids can be found on Garfield Lake in Laporte having fun and enjoying an afternoon of stock car racing. But this year the racers were told by track safety personnel that the ice conditions would not allow for racing.
The thin layer of ice was covered with snow and slush, preventing the heavy loads of trucks and trailers carrying the race cars onto the lake.
This is the first year in memory that the races were forced to be canceled. The 2019 season had to be shortened due to ice conditions, but enough races were held to have a season-ending banquet and celebration at the 3rd Base Bar and Grill in Laporte, the official headquarters of the Garfield Lake Ice Racers Club.
On average, 25-30 racers compete each week.
The club doesn’t race for money or trophies but pay to race on the 1/3 mile oval track, which normally would be situated on the south end of Garfield Lake. The funds raised by the club through race fees go directly to various charities throughout the area.
The club donated more than $55,000 in 2019 alone. Some of the various groups to receive donations from the club were the Hubbard County Sheriffs Canine Unit, Hospice, Wreaths Across America, Hubbard County Mounted Posse, Bemidji Youth Football, Laporte Area Food Shelf, Adult Day Services and Camp Oak Hills. Laporte Area Schools received funds for a Piano Fund, Athletic Equipment, the Lunch Fund and Letter Winners Club. The club also donated to the Beltrami County Veterans Home, as well as the Laporte 4th of July Fireworks Fund, and other various projects around Garfield Lake. Other individuals and groups also received funds from the club.
Racing is the activity that draws these individuals together. Many in the area are the beneficiaries of their favorite pastime.
Club President Kris Baker and flagman Tom Lindahl hope for a better racing season in 2021. Many of the racers have commented that the ice racers with studded tires are ready to go when the season begins.