LAPORTE -- Finally, ice racing returned to Garfield Lake on Sunday, Feb. 21.

The Garfield Lake Ice Racers have waited since the winter of 2019 to get back on the ice.

Ice conditions during the winter of 2020 were terrible with slush and thin ice throughout the winter forcing a total cancellation of the season.

This year the warmer than normal temperatures did not produce the needed ice thickness until the latest cold snap created ice thick enough to hold the cars, trailers and fans.

Racing normally starts in January and ends when ice conditions don’t allow the racing to continue. The races start at noon each Sunday on a track located this year on the north off the landing. The cars are prepared with specially imported front studded tires to enable control on the ice and rear “gummy” tires for traction.

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It was a beautiful sunny and warm Sunday to get the first race of the season underway.

A total of 31 racers were on hand for opening day with 10 running in the A class and 21 in the B class. Hundreds of fans, racers and crews filled the outside perimeter of the 1/4-mile oval track enjoying the free action-packed afternoon of racing.

Winners in the A class to start the season were Chad Tabaka, who claimed both a heat and a feature win, with John Farrington also winning both a heat and a feature.

The B class feature winners were Josh Bitker and Abe Forseman. Heat winners were Reid Watson, Dan Riggs, Tony Rohloff, Jared Miller and Nic Lewis winning two heats.

Racing will resume at noon on Sunday, Feb. 28.

The Garfield Lake Ice Racing club is a non-profit organization. Members pay a fee of $30 each race day to compete in two full sets of races with heats and features.

The club has long donated to local charities and needy individuals and families, and recently was licensed to run E-Tab gambling at the clubs home, the 3rd Base Bar and Grill in Laporte. During the 2020 holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the club donated more than $10,000 to needy veterans and families in Laporte, Bemidji and the surrounding area.