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December 20, 2004

Zamboni.. of Death!

If you live anywhere near an ice rink you’re undoubtedly familiar with that wonderful creation of Frank J. Zamboni, the Zamboni. (For those of you from warmer climes, this is the goofy looking vehicle that comes out and resurfaces the ice.) How can you not get excited when you see one? All of us who know of Zamboni’s have visions of kids riding them between periods and waving to people with flags. The cheerful guys that drive them seem to be on top of the world. They’re just cool machines and a testimony to American ingenuity.

That being said the next time you see one you may want to duck.

It seems that a Zamboni exploded in Duluth late Sunday night, starting a fire and destroying the ice arena. 30 guys, on hand for a broomball game, lost their personal belongings as the whole place burned to the ground.

Here’s a link to the story: Zamboni Eruption.

Understatement of the week: the guy whose helmet was hit with shrapnel, “It did its job, I guess.” There’s also a great quote from the Zamboni driver who speculates it was the Propane tanks that power the Zamboni that caused the explosion.

It’s a sham folks. Don’t believe it.

What we have here is a peek into the seamy and deadly world of Zamboni racing. Investigators will no doubt find that this particular Zamboni was rigged with all the gear that you can imagine: neon, racing slicks, NOS, etc. In the underground world of Zamboni racing it’s a realm of shadow figures and cut corners, all in an attempt to get a Zamboni from the factory top end of 3 mph to 7 mph and beyond. (No one has yet to break the 15 mph barrier and survive unscathed.) This culture lives in garages during the day and thrives on the ice late, late at night in arenas and halls.

Few people know that the movie “The Fast and the Furious” was going to be called “The Frost and the Freezer” but audiences outside of communities with hockey rinks didn’t test well. (Vin Diesel did look awfully sharp on the Zamboni that had been outfitted for his role however.) Studio executives felt that mass exposure to such an outlaw community wasn’t good and shelved it.

The next time you’re at a rink remember this when you see that all too familiar machine on the ice moving towards you. Realize that at night, after the rink is empty, that Zamboni might be engaged in activities that no one, not even Frank himself, could have ever imagined.

After all, the same machine you watch might be pulling a wheelie in just a few hours. I'm beginning to have doubts about pee-wee hockey and Jack...

Posted by Jim at December 20, 2004 12:55 AM


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