As you well know, there is a monstrosity of a blizzard heading into New England this weekend. Fear not. Eastern BS world hq has stocked up on beer, cheap whiskey, and Spam, so we’re ready for anything. This weather and the frigid temps that have ushered it in have us in a cold weather state of mind. Yesterday we ran some great video of the Frozen Assets ice dragster and that got me to thinking about a killer piece we ran last year about the golden age of insane ice and snow racing in the 1960s and 1970s. Blown gas front engine dragsters on ice, blown alky rear engine dragsters and sub zero death rockets were the order of the day. Read on to learn about some of the fastest and most bat crap insane ice racing machines ever built and raced.
Forgive us if you knew about any of this already, because we didn’t. We had no idea that, starting in the late 1960s, guys began building custom snowmobiles to make quarter mile speed runs on frozen lakes. These weren’t drag races, they, like land speed runs, were single affairs. We had no idea that a guy once glued treads to the slicks on a slingshot dragster that was powered by a blown, gas burning Hemi, installed skis instead of front wheels, and raced it on a lake. We also had no idea that guys built blown rear engined dragsters that powered tracks that went over 200 mph in a 1/4 mile…on ice. These machines are totally amazing.
We’re going to profile just a few of these totally crazy vehicles.
Our research seems to point to 1965 as the true beginning of racers really taking the speed run concept to another level. The factories like Arctic Cat began by mounting multiple engines onto otherwise stock sleds. Those nuts were able to squeak past 100 miles per hour.
Because there were no real rules as to what one was allowed to do in the Unlimited class, stuff went haywire pretty quick. “Snowmobiles” quickly turned into custom engineered machines that looked a lot like stuff that would be found on drag strips. Take this monster below as an example. It is the Rupp Super Sno-Sport and it was built in 1969. Powered by a Ford V8 sporting Gurney-Westlake heads, the “sled” went 150 mph at its best.
The ”Boss Cats” built by Arctic Cat were some of the most beautiful and well engineered machines that ever touched the ice in competition. The first few iterations were powered by actual snowmobile engines and maintained the look of a normal snowmobile. The sled below, although called Boss Cat II, it was actually the third one built as there was a Boss Cat 0. This one was powered by a blown, injected, 327 that ran on alky and was rated at 500 hp. It is amazingly beautiful.
The Boss Cat III went back to snowmobile power, but in multiples. There were four 650cc engines mounted on the sled which equated to about 400 hp. This thing went about 130 mph at its best and was so narrow that tipping over at speed was a problem. It was retired in the mid 1970s.
Of all the crazy stuff we saw when poking around for information on this topic, Ky Michaelson’s “Green Machine” front engine dragster was probably our favorite. It is a gas burning 392ci Hemi, a dragster chassis with the front tires swapped out for skis, and tracks bonded to the large rear tires. The car only ran at one event and there was controversey because race officials told Michaelson that there were basically no rules and then they outlawed this from competition when they saw it. He made a couple timed laps and was told he went 123 mph but both he and spectators from the event believe he want far faster than that and the officials did not want to let on just how fast he was.
We’ll skip right to the baddest unlimited sled there ever was to round this story off. Built by Paul Groth from what is claimed to be a former Top Fuel dragster chassis and sponsored by Budweiser, the Budweiser Sno-King was the first sled to ever run faster than 200 mph. It actually ran 201 mph in the mid 1980s before the rules were changed to allow only snowmobile engine power. The blown, alky-swilling big-block Chevy powering the Sno-King was no longer welcome on the ice. Luckily, the car has been preserved and we’ve got video of it being fired up below.
The resource we used for much of our research for this was The Boss Cat Legacy website. We barely scratched the surface of the awesome machines that competed on the ice before the rules were reigned in back in the middle 1980s. If you want to eat up lots of time, visit The Boss Cat Legacy and check out some of the wildest speed machines in history.