Kaley Johnson has been named 2015 AMA Ice Racer of the Year, and Emmett Sund the AMA Youth Ice Racer of the Year, at the AMA Ice Race Grand Championships on Lake Koshkonong at Oaklawn Academy in Edgerton, Wisconsin.
Only 17 years old, Johnson has been riding on ice since she was nine years old. “I got into ice racing because my dad is part of the Muskegon Motorcycle Club,” Johnson explains. “He was always into the racing thing, and my brother started racing on ice, so that’s how I got into it.”
Riding against males, Johnson took three National Championships this year — 250cc DTX, 250cc Modified, and 251cc-500cc DTX.
Earning the Ice Racer of the Year award is something that runs in the Johnson family. “Winning AMA Ice Racer of the Year is something that I’ve been hoping for since my brother, Kyle, got it in 2011 and 2012,” the Twin Lakes, Michigan racer said. “He’s always wanted me to get it and bring it back to our family.”
Conditions were difficult in Edgerton, giving Johnson a bit of a challenge. It was 13 below zero on the first day of racing, a just 9 above the following day. “This past weekend I got a bunch of frostbite on my face with it being so cold,” she said. “I get frostbite really easily. It’s hard to keep going when you’re freezing. I have a neck warmer I tuck into my helmet, but that doesn’t always help.”
In addition to ice racing, Johnson also does some dirt track racing. Still, she prefers the frozen water. “It’s faster than what dirt is,” Johnson said. “It’s a lot more hooked up than most people think. With studs in the tires, it’s way faster than anybody would imagine it to be. Plus, racing on the ice is good practice for the dirt. My brother and I go out on the weekends and put in a bunch of laps on the lakes around us.”
Youth Ice Racer of the Year Sund might be considered something of a natural. The 10-year-old from Edgerton won National Championships in the 65cc Modified and 85cc Modified classes. The extraordinary thing is, it was Sund’s first ever weekend of ice racing. Like Johnson, Sund is a dirt track racer, though it’s his specialty (he started at 7 years old). “Winning AMA Ice Racer of the Year makes me really happy,” Sund said.
AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame rider and Enduro legend Jeff Fredette also competed at the AMA Ice Racer Grand Championships. He won the 250cc Modified Ice GP and Super Senior 50+ Ice GP.
Photography by Mike Barton