Drivers can go from zero to 60 in under three seconds on a 50-foot-long sheet of solid ice, with no brakes.

No, it’s not a trek down I-295 during a Maine Nor’easter. It’s a description of the action during the Maine Motorsports Xtreme International Ice Racing Championships, coming to Cross Insurance Arena in Portland on Saturday.

Competitors from around the world, and some from Maine, will compete in what’s part of an ongoing series of racing events held around the country. Among those scheduled to appear in Portland are Australian Colby Long, dubbed The Thunder from Down Under, and England native Anthony Barlow, aka The British Bulldog. Barlow is also the owner of the company that promotes the racing series. Racers have corporate sponsors and compete for a cash purse, though Barlow didn’t want to say how much it is.

The racers will compete in four divisions, based on the type of cycle they ride. There’s the speedway division, for the fastest bikes with no breaks and 2,000 tiny metal studs on their tires. Then there’s the flat track class, for bikes that usually run on dirt tracks, as well as races for four-wheel and three-wheel vehicles. There will be about 11 rounds of racing, Barlow said.

Racing on the ice arena surface, riders will only have about 50 feet of straightaways before they hit a curve. Most of the bikes will be going 40 to 50 miles an hour most of the time, in that confined space. Hay bales will be placed in strategic areas to help mitigate the damage in any crashes. And people do like crashes, Barlow says.

Barlow points out that one of the hazards of racing on ice – besides a slippery and unpredictable surface – is that it’s cold. Bone-chillingly cold.

“Being so cold, your bones break easier,” said Barlow, who has been ice racing for more than 20 years. “But the coolest thing is that people come out to watch us.”

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: