When The Weather Turns Cold, These Four-Wheelers Take To The Ice
In Colorado, they say that if you don't like the weather, don't worry. It'll change in five minutes. That's even more true on a frozen lake in the middle of winter, where the weather can change from sunny to foggy to outright blizzard conditions within seconds.
After hosting ice races on Georgetown Lake in Georgetown, Colorado, for the past 25 years, Our Gang Four-Wheelers is pretty well acclimated to 'wheeling in such conditions. The six-week racing event runs through January and February and is open to anyone with nerves of steel, a four-wheel drive, and bare rubber. Racing categories are determined by the rig and the tires it's rolling on.
Bolted, studded, and bare rubber tires grip the ice while two competitors race in a single elimination lap around the dog bone-shaped track. Drivers start the race on opposite ends of the track facing in opposite directions. The first racer to return to the starting position advances to the next round. Trophies are awarded each weekend with overall-points trophies awarded on Championship Weekend, February 24-25.
We saw modified Jeeps, Wranglers, CJs - pretty much everything from a '48 Willys to an '01 Cherokee - with a proliferation of Willys and CJ-5 body types.
The three main competition classes are Stock Street, Pro Street, andCompetition Class. The Stock Street Class is for anyone with a four-wheel drive and bare rubber tires. The rigs in this class span the range from 4Runners and Blazers to Jeeps and various trucks. The Pro Street Class includes any four-wheeler with street-legal, studded, or stock specialty ice tires. The Competition Class is for the experienced, thrill-seeking racer with a modified rig and bolted tires. Because the drivers regularly reach speeds of as much as 45 mph on the ice-covered track, this class requires that competitors have helmets, five-point harnesses, and full rollcages.
For those unfamiliar with the sport, lets take a closer look at the tires. They include stock tires, specialty ice tires, studded tires with 17mm or 20mm studs embedded in the tread, and bolted tires known as cheaters (radial tires with 1-1/2-inch bolts sticking out of the tread).
Slippin' and slidin' isn't just limited to the rigs. We had bolts screwed into the soles of our boots to safely cross the lake during a momentary wind storm for a close-up view of the action on Saturday during Championship Weekend.
Sound exhilarating? Next time you are driving on Interstate 70 near Georgetown, which passes within a few yards of the lake, take a gander or take a spin. Club president Dave Tscherpel says that during racing season, anyone who meets the Stock Street specifications and has the $10 entry fee is welcome to race at 9 a.m. Sunday.
For More Information:If you would like to learn more about this year's ice racing schedule, contact: Dave Tscherpel at (303) 589-6544 or visit the club's Web site at www.ourgangiceracing.com.