Published March 08, 2008, 12:00 AM

Ice racing fills winter motocross void

Some people skate on ice, and others fish on it. Craig Torgerson races dirt bikes at speeds up to 93 mph.

By: Emily Kram, The Daily Telegram

Some people skate on ice, and others fish on it. Craig Torgerson races dirt bikes at speeds up to 93 mph.

Torgerson, 19, recently won the ice racing championships in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Foxboro native competed in a field of 15 racers to win the Minnesota championship and was one of 12 racers to qualify for the championship race in Wisconsin.

“I’ve won so far,” Torgerson said, adding that he has always been taught to remain humble in spite of success.

In ice racing, competitors may ride either an ATV or a dirt bike, with separate races for each type of vehicle. The races themselves are similar to race car events with signal flags and a point system to rank competitors. Both sports make racers’ safety a priority. Vehicles must also conform to race standards.

According to the Minnesota Ice Racing Organization’s Web site, all studded vehicles must have engine kill devices and studs used must be hex screws no more than one inch wide and 3/16 of an each long. For bikes, at least one functioning brake is required and extended front and rear fenders must be added to the bike. Other than equipping his dirt bike with studded tires and ice fenders, Torgerson did not have to make many modifications.

He did adjust his driving style, though.

Torgerson actually got his start racing dirt bikes at age 15. At that time, he was competing in motocross. He didn’t move to the ice until age 16 when neighbors introduced him to ice racing. Torgerson said it was a good way to fill time during the motocross off season.

Today, he prefers ice racing to motocross.

“I do it mostly for the adrenaline rush,” Torgerson said. “And it’s just something that my dad and I, and my little brother, do together.”

Not only does Torgerson enjoy ice racing more, he also feels it is safer than motocross. He said success in ice racing relies on mastery of skills and control of one’s machine. Still, ice racing isn’t completely free of mishaps.

“I’d mostly just like to thank my dad for getting my bike ready every weekend and putting up with all the stuff I break,” Torgerson said.

So far, the breaks he has experienced have been confined to his bike. He said he has had small issues with his wrists, fingers and feet.