VIRGINIA — Ice bumper cars are “a cool thing” — quite literally — “to have on the Range,” says Virginia’s director of Parks and Recreation.
But, even more notably, Virginia is the only place in the state that offers ice bumper cars, added Brian Silber.
In fact, gliding effortlessly across the ice after bumping into other riders — a completely different experience from typical bumper cars — is a pretty rare recreation.
The Iron Trail Motors Event Center (ITMEC) is one of only 27 locations worldwide to feature the electric vehicles manufactured by the Colorado company that invented the activity, Ice Bumper Cars International.
“It’s a nice addition” to the event center, which opened in September, replacing the Miners Event and Convention Center, Silber said.
The ITMEC is offering Bump-N-Skate from 9 a.m. to noon every Sunday, with public skating on half the arena ice and bumper cars on the other. Cost is $5 for unlimited skating and $10 for 15 minutes using the bumper cars.
“Historically the Miners offered public skating on Sundays, and we are continuing to do that,” Silber said.
Bump-N-Skate started in November, and there has been a good response, he said. The ice bumper cars, which can also be booked for groups and parties, “have been a big hit. People absolutely love them. They are a lot of fun.”
The center has 12 cars and schedules up to 10 of them to be used at a time.
Children must be 42 inches tall and at least 6 years old to operate a vehicle. Children ages 3 to 5 can ride with another driver. Drivers and passengers must wear seat belts, and helmets are available.
Skaters must bring their own skates; rentals are not available.
Silber said the ice bumper cars and public skating are good ways to utilize the ice when it's not being used for hockey and figure skating.
“We also added this year an option to purchase a membership to skate.” Memberships allow skaters to use the ice during the daytime on weekdays when it is not in use. “It’s great for people who are not working or for kids who are home-schooled,” Silber noted.
IBC International was founded by an employee of a Steamboat Springs, Colo., ice arena, Mike Farny, who discovered old amusement park bumper cars at the rink that were labeled as trash. He restored the cars and came up with the idea of creating bumper cars designed for the ice, spending most of 2017 traveling the world to find the highest quality parts to build his cars.
According to the company: “Unlike the more traditional bumper car, the ice bumper car experience is very fluid because the slippery surface allows for the cars to bump and slide.”
Silber said he is glad the city was able to bring a rather new, exciting and hard-to-find recreation to the Iron Range.
“That’s what happens when you think outside the box,” he said.