Maine is exactly as I expected it to be: tranquil, beautiful, and cold. Sure, it’s not the -15 or so that Lohnes and Nutting got to experience last year, but there was snow on the ground and a bite to the air that had people bundling up. Sunday River is a beautiful location and the staff had worked hard to prepare the course for the 2016 Red Bull Frozen Rush races, but there was concern: the snow was not that deep and the temperatures were not that cold. There was plenty of speculation about what would happen if and when the heavily spiked BFGoodrich KO2 race tires managed to dig completely through the snow and into the dirt, and as far as who would win…well, that was anybody’s guess. Nine drivers, all heavily qualified to be present, were going to drive like the devil was on their tail in the hopes that they would be the winner.
Enough prose. You want to know what it’s really like in person? It’s like Baja trucks, but with the A/C set on “kill”. The violence and motion in the snow make you think of a snow rally, but sliding around hurts times and the tires don’t really help in that regard. Sure, the trucks can get sideways…900 horsepower does not hurt…but four-wheel drive and tires that grip and shred better than an infuriated lion keep the Pro 4 trucks from drifting off of the race track and onto the ski slopes. The noise is biblical, ranging from traditional V8 to the banshee scream coming from the Toyotas piloted by Johnny and CJ Greaves, and the flight time the trucks acquire is just short of gaining notice of the FAA. But the most surprising thing I noticed about Frozen Rush is the fan count. You had hundreds (thousands?) of fans lining the spectator area plus fans who were trying to time their ride on the chair lift to coincide with a heat race. Nobody seemed bothered by the low temperatures or the snow one bit…they were there to see a good race, and they certainly got one.