2006 Ice Bowl
The 2006 season is officially underway after the 15th annual running of the "Ice Bowl" at Talladega
Short Track in Talladega, Alabama. This marked the 4th consecutive year that my racing season started
at the yearly frozen bash. This year however it was more like the mid-spring classic as the weather was
sunny, with high temps in the high 60's and nearly touching 70 during the consi and feature day. The
annual event produced the largest turnout of cars in the history of the event with a total of 402 cars
divided between 5 classes of cars with 96 super late models entering the show. The most common phrase
of the weekend without a doubt was "Who in the heck is Joel Rice?"
Cashiers, NC driver Joel Rice picked up the biggest win of his career at the 15th Annual Ice Bowl.
(Chad Wells Photo)
Many rumors floated around, some saying he was a 19 year old kid that was just starting his racing
career, others said he was an old veteran that had run for many years and just never had any success.
When the truth was finally known, none of it was true. Joel Rice is a man around his 40's from Cashiers,
NC that runs weekly at the bullring that is known as Toccoa Speedway. Rice ran there in 2005 in the
limited late model class weekly with very limited success. 2006 apparently will not be the same after
leading every lap over national contenders such as Shane Clanton, Jimmy Owens and a number of
Southeastern powerhouses to pick up his first ever late model win and the $6000 top prize. Saturday saw
group qualifying and heats, once again Rice was the man of the day setting fast time and going on to pick
up the heat race win leaving him on the front row of the feature alongside of Shane Clanton, the
defending champion of the Ice Bowl. After several botched starts and wrecks, the field was strung out
and the start would go off single file allowing Rice the free shot to turn one and the lead. Clanton would
challenge several times, only to finish 4th after the 50 lap feature had been ran. Derrick Rainey provided
the stiffest challenge for Rice, at one point Rainey was alongside and had Rice pinned behind a lap car
only to see a spin right in front of them and his forthcoming lead go out the same window he climbed
into. Danny Peoples would come home third and was flying at the end of the race, however he just ran
out of time. The house was also full of NASCAR drivers looking to have some off-season fun as Ken
Schrader and Kenny Wallace would bring two cars each. Schrader had his Super & Crate Late Models,
while Wallace brought his open wheel and borrowed a crate from Georgian Jeff Smith. Schrader failed to
make either show, while Wallace would race his way in the open wheel feature only to have it taken away
with a DQ for not having the $1.75 IMCA sticker on his rims. Wallace would later get on the pa and
challenge the IMCA race director to come to the tower and have an open conversation about the nights
"Events" so everyone could hear. Wallace would then qualify his way into the Stormpay.com Crate Racin
USA feature in his #36 Herminator ride. Wallace would go on to have a top 10 finish in the feature and
admittedly a ton of fun.
"The Hermanator" Kenny Wallace made a rare dirt appearance at The Ice Bowl. (Chad Wells Photo)
The biggest thrill of the entire weekend for me however, was seeing my childhood hero Jeff Purvis back
on the dirt track albeit was in a crate car. While growing up in East Tennessee, I had the distinct
pleasure of watching Purvis "Do his thing" on the local tracks on a number of occasions. I fondly
remember one summer evening while at 411 Motor Speedway in nearby Seymour, TN during one of the
many Southern All Stars shows Purvis took the time to talk to me for several minutes as well as signing
what would be my first ever autograph on a plain piece of white paper, which I want to add I still have it.
During one of the breaks during the day I made my over to where he was parked and once again just like
that early summer day, Purvis took the time to talk to me and re-confirmed why he will always be my
favorite dirt track drivers of all times. Even though he failed to make the feature, it made my day just to
see him back behind the wheel and slinging it around like I remember back in the day. Until the next
time and the first O'Reilly Southern All Stars race, which will be the March Madness 4 @ Cherokee
Speedway make sure and keep em on all fours and have fun doing it.
Jeff Purvis made his return to TST in his stormpay.com Crate Model. (Chad Wells Photo)