If you know me at all you know that I love playing on the Ice! Last year I raced the season on Georgetown Lake. This year I have missed quite a few days up there but I keep trying to make it up there to race as much as possible. During the last race we had the opportunity to race on the largest track that they have ever put together! This track took up our entire portion of the lake and was simply… FUN. So many corners to figure out and a nice long lap as well.
Of course, if you know me you also know a camera came along on this adventure. Here is a quick edit of one full lap on the lake.
So, what else is there? How about the Steamboat Ice Track? Bridgestone winter driving school is a great place to go play. It isn’t quite as cheap as Ice racing, but you sure do get plenty of track time and it definitely is an amazing track. I headed up there with my old tires and was ready to go play. With a massive lack of confidence I put my car in the snowbanks a couple times. But wow, it is just so fun no matter what!
We shared the GoPro’s throughout the day and threw together a short little video as well.
By the end of the day Dave pulled out a school car to show off what a Lexus can do on the track as well.
Oh and yes, I was NOT the only one to get my car stuck in a snowbank!
Jimmy and Spencer are great friends and it is amazing to see how close they are in all the racing they do. Ride along with Jimmy as he finishes second in open wheel by only 1 second! His time is good enough for 5th fastest on the mountain a pretty awesome thing to be able to say as well!
It was a beautiful day at Gerogetown Lake this week. Sunny, warm and the wind was only intermittent. We’ve actually had some really nice race days up there even if the first days were hovering around-50 with the wind chill!
This week I talked my co-worker, Szady, into coming up to race. He has an Audi S4 and we talked about winter tires for a while until he decided to go with the Bizzak’s. So what better way to test them out than to come up and race on Ice! He ended up winning his class!
I had the good fortune of winning one of my two classes this week. We had a subaru studs race and a Pro Street race on a big long track with lots of speed. I got a bit hesitant with the speed on some of my laps. Wow it sure seems different when you are hauling at 45+mph on a glaring sheet of ice into a hairpin turn. It is a LOT of fun though and I really didn’t get to comfortable with it until my victory lap… which seems a bit funny now that I say it.
Jon got 3rd in pro street studs, which is a solid accomplishment as well. I went out in the first round!
This time however we added more cars to the video. More jeeps, bronco’s subaru’s audi’s. Everything! Mix all that together with a bit of rocket man and tada! You have a cool Our Gang Ice Racin’ video.
I have known about Ice racing in Georgetown for years but this year was the first that I have participated. I was fortunate to have a good friend, Jon Coln, that was motivating to the point of letting me borrow his wheels/tires to go play on the ice. So lets give a bit of an idea of what Georgetown Ice racing is all about.
The Ice racing at Georgetown is organized through a group called Our Gang Ice Racing. They are a group of Jeep guys/gals primarily that have been racing up there for many years. This is a close knit group of families that all race together. Mothers, daughters, fathers and sons all have turns behind the wheel. Everyone has responsibilities besides their races as well. There are people who set up the track, others who manage registration, some who run the races and others who help keep everything organized. Overall it is a fun group who just want to go out and play with some big kid toys. I have been going to the meetings as well and this is a really fun group of people. I thought I’d feel like an outsider, but they were incredibly welcoming and pretty much excited that I was willing to go to their meetings.
When Jon and I went out there the first time we were met with a bit of disbelief. The suby with the studs was a big hit with the locals. We would pull up in line and the officials would mention that “everyones asking about the ‘subaru with the roof rack on it.'” Every time we stopped the car people would come and check out the studs and ask us where we got them. The next time we headed up both of us had studs and they got a bit pickier about the legality of them by their rules. The studs that Jon had were a little outside of the rules which indicated that in a 7-1/8 inch circle you may have 20 studs or less. Jon’s wheels had 30 studs in a 7-1/8 circle. It seems that at first they were willing to let him race anyway since the tires were only 5 inches wide and all the comp Jeeps have tires that are 12 inches wide. In addition they figured the Comp jeeps are lighter with more horsepower and purpose build braking helps them get around corners faster. Unfortunately one of the other drivers questioned the tires and based on the count he had to switch out. This put him and I on Continental Contact Ice racing tires. These tires have 17mm studs (rather than 20mm studs) and have them at a density of approximately 15 studs in a 7-1/8 inch circle. We are going to propose an amendment to the rule at the preseason meeting however that asks for a count of the number of studs contacting the ice rather than the number within a set circle. (the comp Jeeps have, at my count, 36+ studs on the ground at any given time)
Ok enough of the technical talk. Lets get to the fun stuff!
Friday I went up to the lake for their Practice day aka a fun day. The practice days are just a free for all. You can race anyone and you can run as many laps as you can bring yourself to run. My co-worker Stephen came out. He had raced once before and has gotten the bug as well. This time Dave Kern came up to join us. Dave is an actual professional driver and a very impressive one as well. In addition to those two guys Matt from BikeRadar came up to join us as well. Matt was doing a review on a set of Dugast studded tubular tires and this was a fun way to compare them. We arrived up on the lake and switched out tires. I had a chance to go ride along with Stephen in his pristine 325ix. This thing is so nice inside and out and it is nearly 25 years old! After racing in the bimmer we took my car out for a spin. the studs just tear into the ice and it is quite an eye opener when you experience it for the first time.
Eventually Jon got out on the ice as well and we had a chance to race, then Dave arrived as well. Dave didn’t have a car to drive so I let him drive mine around. He was great with tips and pointers every time I drove. and when he drove it was fun just to watch the lightning fast movements that he was doing to constantly control every aspect of the car. We battled with my ABS and hoped to turn it off, but unfortunately had trouble getting that to happen.
Throughout the day I was playing with my new GoPro HD camera. This is also a fun toy…for me at least. But I had a good time finding angles that would look good on camera. I put together a little video from that footage as well.
I put a quick vid up of Dave driving as well, this one you can hear the engine just screaming!
At the end of the day I had logged over 9.5 miles of driving at full throttle on the ice. This is in 1/4 mile increments since each track is probably 1/4 to 1/3rd of a mile. We maxed out at 35.1 miles an hour as well, which I would say is pretty impressive considering how small the courses are and how tight they are as well.
We even had a couple fans. While I was in the pit I talked to a couple people who pulled off the highway to come check it out and were drawn to the fast subies on the studs!
This was the last weekend for racing this year. There is actually plenty of Ice up there, but this was the championship weekend so the next race will be on New Years day…I CAN’T WAIT!
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!