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Jeep Ice Racing - Cold Colorado fun

Posted in Events on May 16, 2014
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Photographers: Melissa Howard

Summer is just around the corner, so reading this story might seem a bit weird to you, but we are sitting down to write it just weeks after it happened at the tail end of January, 2014. You see, we schlepped our thin-blooded California butts on up to Georgetown, Colorado, to see some high-horsepower Jeeps with metal in their tires tear around on a frozen lake. With a 16-degree high temperature, largely overcast conditions, and 50-mph winds, you’d think we’d be complaining. Fortunately, we dressed warmly, the snow didn’t bother our cameras too much, and we had a blast.

Georgetown sits to the West of Denver, Colorado, in the slopes of the Rockies near Vail, Colorado, and we were at an elevation of around 9,000 feet. The Our Gang 4-Wheelers club runs these ice race events, and if you think seeing high-horsepower V-8-powered old Jeeps tear around on a frozen lake isn’t worth the trip, you’ve got another thing coming. You might think that it would be just a bunch of Jeeps spinning out on the ice, but these things turn and literally shoot out of the hole and corners like they were launched with the catapult on an aircraft carrier.

The races take place around an irregularly shaped track with two Jeeps at a time. The Jeeps start halfway around the track from each other and wait for the green flag. Once the flag drops, the ponies get to run. The races are setup as brackets so that each Jeep gets to go more than once until the winningest Jeep is declared the final winner.

Our Gang has been putting on these races for almost 40 years now, and they have it figured out. From the cones to the tracks to the use of flags or the several different classes of races -- there is always something to see. Racing happens over the course of two days, and even though there are races every other week from around December to March, there are prizes each weekend. The competition is fierce. The exact start and end dates can change based on how thick the ice is on the lake, so check out if you are thinking of going later this year for the 2015 season.

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This ’94 Wrangler belongs to Nick Westerhoff, and a 41⁄2-inch Rubicon Express lift and high fenders normally provide clearance for 37-inch Trxus tires. Once he gets to the ice, he swaps on the 29-inch studs you see here. With the stock 4.0L engine and AX15 it wasn’t the fastest Jeep on the ice, but with 4.56 gears and 29-inch tires, it must feel like a rocket after driving all the way up here on 37s.
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How It Works
The seven classes we got to watch were as follows.
Street Studs: Street-legal Jeeps only with studded tires. Many of these Jeeps were driven to the event and the stud tires bolted on at the lake.
Women’s Pro Street Studs: Normally higher-horse Jeeps that are still 100- percent street legal and are usually trailered up to the event.
Men’s Pro Street Studs: Same as women’s, but male drivers. Often a husband/wife team will race the same Jeep in both classes.
Women’s Comp Studs: Women drivers with even higher horse Jeeps that don’t need to be street legal at all. Many of these end up with different frames, suspensions, and highly-modified sheet metal or fiberglass bodies.
Men’s Comp Studs: Like the Pro Street, many of these Jeeps are the same as those driven in the Women’s class, with the husband behind the wheel.
Women’s Cheaters: Many of these Jeeps are the same ones that race in the Comp class, but they swap tires (yes, in the cold, on the ice) to these gnarly studded tires with approximately 100 bolts sticking out of them that are roughly 3⁄8x3 inches.
Men’s Cheaters: As with the other classes, many of these are the same Jeeps. Air stays in the tires thanks to inner tubes such as you might use for a mountain bike or lowboy trailer.
While we were there, the club didn’t run a Bare Rubber class, but there is one of those as well. Also, there are non-Jeep vehicles that are welcome to race, but as the vehicles get more and more modified moving up through the classes, most of them are Jeeps or at least Jeep-looking.

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