Outdoors: Race a Car on Georgetown Lake

February 18 2013, 1:42 PM

Why we love it: You'll be able to say you raced a car—on ice.

When to go: Catch the end of this season (until March 3) or make plans for next season (check out this calendar for specific race dates).

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I wasn't sure what was more outrageous: the purple sequin bra or the inch-and-a-half-long bolts, sharpened to a point, piercing through the tires like claws on a rubber beast. “That’s Molley, you don’t mess with Molley,” says Mike Tjarks, laughing as he points to a souped-up Bronco gliding along the ice.

Since 1976, Our Gang 4 Wheelers has hosted car races on Georgetown Lake in GeorgetownMolley is one of many vehicles that come out regularly for the ice races, which include a street division (normal cars), pro street division (vehicles with specialized tires), and competition division (off-road vehicles). Today, I'd be riding along with Tjarks in the pro street division. 

As I stood in the middle of the lake, praying I wouldn’t see a rollover, Tjarks drove up and told me to hop in. The engine released an angry moan as he stepped on the gas and pulled up to the starting line. I squeezed my head into a motocross-type helmet and buckled my seatbelt, though both of these seemed like somewhat fruitless efforts. 

The jeep exploded off the front line at about 45 miles per hour and flew to the far end of the course. The inch of newly fallen snow covering the lake puffed up and swallowed our vehicle in a white cloud. We continued around the course (yes, there were screams), swiveled though the zigzagged path, and finally made it safe and sound to the finish line. The whole race took less than two minutes, but that was plenty. 

I sat, buzzing with adrenaline and disbelief that I was still alive. Tjarks, along with other regulars who watched (and heard) my lap, clapped and laughed. “It’s all about family out here,” said Tjarks, cheering as his 17-year-old daughter Michaela raced and won her heat.

As intimidating as the bolts and the bras may be, ice racing welcomes drivers and spectators of all sorts with frosty, open arms. Whether you want to take your car onto the ice for a bare rubber race, or just pack some blankets and toe warmers to post up on the snowy shores, ice racing on Georgetown Lake is an exhilarating way to spend a winter weekend. 

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Getting there: From Denver, take I-70 West to exit 228. Take the roundabout east on the frontage road back toward the lake. Turn right into the lake parking lot and drive toward the dam at the east end.

Tips: Bring some cold weather gear and shoes with a good tread. The best spots to watch are out on the lake, so bundle up and wear sturdy shoes so you can easily scuttle across the ice. Racers, get there early—vehicles must go through an inspection before they can hit the ice.

Cost: $5 to register street vehicles, $10 to register pro street and competition vehicles. Race entry is $20 per driver, per class. Sign up here to get started.

—Image courtesy of Joey Bouchard Photography