Motorcycles take to the ice rink
BY KAYLA PONGRAC
Our Town Correspondent
Those who purchase tickets to Xtreme International Ice Racing (XIIR) will be entertained by motorcyclists riding their bikes on ice; these bikes go from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than three seconds, and they are not equipped with brakes.
“When they go around turns, there’s snow flying behind them, and they’re going incredibly fast and low around the turns,” said Brennan Mihalick, acting general manager at 1st Summit Arena at Cambria County War Memorial. “It’s hard to find the words to describe how cool that is to watch.”
Mihalick said he’s excited to bring to town an event that combines two of Johnstown’s biggest passions: ice (Johnstown has been bestowed the title “Kraft Hockeyville USA”) and motorcycles (“Thunder in the Valley” is still going strong two decades after its inception).
This event, which is scheduled for March 23, is being presented by Cernic’s. Doors are to open at 6:30 p.m. that evening, and the show is to begin one hour later.
During this event, a total of 25 races will be held. Throughout the five heats (heats involve handlebar-to-handlebar racing for four laps), riders will earn points; these points will eventually qualify six riders to compete in the final race, which consists of six laps total.
What’s going to make this event even more exciting, Mihalick added, is that local racers are participating.
“Our partners at Cernic’s were a huge help with this,” Mihalick said. “They recruited and outfitted local riders that wanted to participate in the event. It’s not just the pros of XiiR hitting the ice. It’s our friends and neighbors, too. (That’s) one of my favorite parts about XiiR. I’m a big believer in community pride, and I want to see our racers upstage the pros.”
All bikes and quads have been outfitted to compete on an indoor ice arena. These bikes come in the form of a mountain bike frame, but they have a four-stroke, four-valve engine that runs on nitro methanol. In other words, each bike has lots of horsepower (90 horsepower at the back wheel), not to mention hundreds of metal studs on each tire.
“These racers put a lot of time and effort into their craft, not to mention the resources it takes to outfit the vehicles and risk of going so fast on ice,” Mihalick said. “They also take time to sign free autographs and pose for pictures for fans after the race. For all that they put into this, I think they’re deserving of a good crowd.”
The Xtreme International Ice Racing (XIIR) professional racing tour made its first stop in Johnstown around this time last year.
Mihalick said the arena was filled with more than 2,000 racing fans, making for a great inaugural response from Johnstown and the surrounding areas.
Mihalick mentioned that lower-priced children’s tickets are available in order “to make things more budget friendly for families.” This event is for all ages.
“This is something that everyone in the family can sit down and enjoy together,” he said.
1st Summit Arena at Cambria County War Memorial is located at 326 Napoleon Street in downtown Johnstown.
For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.1stSummitArena.com/go/cernics. Mihalick encouraged anyone interested in attending to purchase tickets in advance due to the assigned seating.
“It’s a little different than taking your family to a night at other races that have grandstands where you just grab a seat when you get in,” he said.