New years day was the first real day of playing this winter. I got a call from Jon Coln to go play on the ice with him. The plan was to head up to Georgetown and partake in the Our Gang Ice Racing test and tune day. We met up and piled into his car then headed up. Jon has a self proclaimed tire fetish and got his hands on a set of WRC rally tires that are studded for Ice racing. We knew this was going to be a new experience, but we also weren’t exactly sure what we were signing up for.
We arrived in Georgetown and went through tech. The tires were out on display and many people were stopping by to check them out. We mounted them up and rolled out on the ice. The sound of each stud tearing away at the ice was incredible. Not only that but the ability to stop on a dime on ice that you can barely stand inspired some child like giggles from both of us throughout the day!
There wasn’t really a lot of categorization during the initial hour of the Test and tune, whoever you were lined up next to was who you raced. We lined up next to a car with no studs, the flag dropped and we caught him before he got around the first corner. We stopped and waited, but at that moment a new course opened up for studs only! So we got to go play with the big guys!
We headed over and started lining up only with studs. The typical racers that frequent the ice are custom built jeeps. These are typically lowered with small block chevy motors often times. They are pumping out some serious horsepower through megaphone exhaust that just rattles you when you are nearby. We were in a Subaru Legacy station wagon with a roof rack box on the top and leather heated seats. When you line up next to a jeep that has been custom built specifically for racing, not only just on ice, but on Ice at Georgetown lake 6 times a year…well you feel a bit inferior. However the suby was swift! Once jon got a feel for the studs we began to beat these custom built creations! One after another we began to cross the finishline first! At one point we pulled up in line and several jeeps pulled out of the way. We rolled down the window and they said “you’re racin’ Jimmy.”
We found our way up to Jimmy. Turns out this is Jimmy Olson, if you check out Our Gang’s website (www.ourgangiceracing.com) you will notice his name at the top of the list pretty frequently! So this was a test. If we can beat Jimmy, these guys were either going to be impressed or they were going to lynch us…we weren’t entirely sure just yet which way this was going to go.
Jimmy lined up and we lined up. Thumbs up from both drivers were signaled and finally an arm drop started the race. Jimmy’s engine roared and we took off as fast as possible. The track was fast and fairly oval in shape (they call it a peanut) with huge drifting turns on the ends. We couldn’t see Jimmy till the first drift, we were facing him and we were still in line with him! He hadn’t lost us yet. We squeezed through the first set of cones and wound around the center chicane and I looked over…we were still in line with Jimmy! We swung around the final drifting corner and, like a scene from a movie, we were perfectly in line with Jimmy! As we crossed the finishline it was close, I mean really close. I suspect that Jimmy took us by a hair, but it was close. As we pulled away, both of us giggling in the car because of how fun it was…we looked over and that same row of jeeps that pulled over to get us in line with jimmy…they were pointing and clapping or giving us the thumbs up! Apparently there wasn’t going to be any lynching today!
Jon and I both have a bit of an “AV nerd” side. So of course we were going to come up with video and photo capabilities as well…right? That’s right. Besides the video quality I think that this clip came out pretty good!
A few weeks later, after Jons obsession gained momentum and his self control was pushed aside, he ended up with 16 ice racing tires with 3 sets on wheels. Of course, one set just happened to fit my car… So up we went on Feb 6th to race one another, both on rally studs and both in Subarus. I was using a set of Continental Ice Racing tires made for Canadian rally. He was using a set of Yokohama tires made for WRC rally. The difference is the size and number of studs that are in the tires. The Continentals have 3 17mm studs per lug and the Yokohamas have 6 20mm studs per lug.
We were able to race two races, one was an AWD event of Subaru’s and Audi’s primarily and the other was the Our Gang Competition class. The competition class is the fastest class that Our Gang runs. I was unfortunate enough to have 2 practice runs before racing, which meant I hardly had a grasp on the tires before I had to go against a nice fast Jeep! Jon kept pace however finishing 5th.
We also got one of my co-workers out to the ice in his BMW 325ix. this is the cleanest 20+ year old car you have ever seen and Stephen has never really pushed it to its limits. He had a blast out there and I was glad to see him come out and test out his skills on the ice!
We will surely be going up again in the near future to get some more time on the ice but so far this has been one of the best driving experiences I have had in a long time!