By Mike Cooper, Contributor
I’m sure everyone can remember that first winter they experienced after getting their license. I bet most of you who are reading this can recall heading to a big open parking lot in the wee hours of the night and sliding your car around, pretending you were the drift king. Those were the days! Obviously this sort of activity is illegal, so what do you do if you want to learn those valuable winter driving skills? If you live in the Canadian prairies, you head to the Fort Qu’Appelle Winter Festival.
Winter in Saskatchewan can be pretty boring for a car guy, especially with nowhere to tinker on your toy. Most people here have a wide range of winter hobbies to keep them occupied through the long, cold months. If you’re like me, you might be the type who decides to hibernate during winter – only to emerge when something cool is happening. I marked the date on my calendar, dusted off my camera (which hadn’t seen the light of day in months) and made the three-hour trek from Saskatoon to Fort Qu’Appelle for their annual Winter Festival. To my knowledge, this was only the second year they’d had drifting on the ice and since it was such a hit last year, I decided to show my face this year! The weather couldn’t have been better, especially for a winter introvert like myself, with temperatures hitting +10 C on Saturday! With record attendance almost reaching 2,500 people – equivalent to the entire population of Fort Qu’Appelle – it was sure to be a good day.
There are a few things to know when driving on a frozen lake…
1. Oversteer is almost always your friend! This is a must for all RWD vehicles if you plan on making it around the track.
2. It’s easy to go too fast and overshoot your upcoming turn. Luckily for the drivers who encountered this problem, there were a ton of people willing to help push cars back onto the track, as well as drivers stopping to assist. It was great to see everyone helping each other!
3. HAVE FUN! This is probably the most important step. Seeing the smiles on people’s faces as they raced around the track was probably the most satisfying part for me. Some of the photos below showcase the reactions from drivers and passengers.
With this being an open track, many people had the chance to join in on the fun. From the winter drift missiles to daily drivers, everyone had the chance to try out the course.Local favourite Kyle Zimmer showed up with his winter beater R32, which, over the course of two days, continued to lose aero pieces after a few minor collisions.
Some were intended, while others were accidental.
One of my favourites was this Mazda RX-2, owned by a BC resident in Saskatchewan to have some fun. To be honest, this was the first one I’d seen in person and I’m a little sad I don’t see them more often. Definitely a cool car!
A big shoutout goes to the Fort Qu’Appelle event organizers for allowing us to get out there and have fun, including Lucas Bardutz and Michael Siefert who designed the track, and Travis Fehler and Kyle Zimmer who made sure everything ran smoothly. Also thanks to Jessica McKinnon and Megan Skene for contributing photos. Keep your eyes peeled for the RoyalZproduction feature video.
See you at Defrost!