There’s something special about Georgetown Lake that has made it Our Gang 4 Wheelers’ home ice for more than 40 years. While the club was based in Leadville when it was founded in the `70s, it …
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There’s something special about Georgetown Lake that has made it Our Gang 4 Wheelers’ home ice for more than 40 years.
While the club was based in Leadville when it was founded in the `70s, it only took a few years before Our Gang moved to Georgetown Lake where it’s hosted its annual ice racing events ever since.
There are a lot of reasons for that, members described between races Saturday.
First, the ice itself is ideal.
It’s thicker than most lakes — 21 inches on Saturday — so ice-drivers can be on it frequently and oftentimes pretty late into the season.
“It’s hard to get something that will freeze like that,” race co-organizer Joe Huffaker of Wellington, Colorado said.
It also has great consistency, racer Kevin Boog of Thornton described, as it’s mostly out of the sun and in the wind.
The location is also great, 40-year racer Anita Bashline of Westminster said, as it is less than an hour’s drive from Denver.
Unless there’s ski traffic.
“That’s the only thing I don’t like is the ski traffic,” Boog said.
However, it’s really the community that makes Georgetown Lake feel like home for Our Gang, Huffaker said. The racers know everyone, and the club has good relationships with the local businesses.
Now, while the locale and community keeps Our Gang coming back to Georgetown annually, the events’ atmosphere is what motivates the individual racers to return every winter.
Boog, who competes in the stud races, described how he was one of the founding members of Our Gang, but stopped racing for 28 years when he lived out of state. However, he returned to the ice as soon as he moved back and found a suitable Jeep.
The races are founded on the principles of friendly competition, so that people have fun while they’re out on the ice and support the other racers when they’re not, he explained.
For Huffaker and Bashline, ice-racing is a family event.
Huffaker described how his teenage daughter will be driving in her first race soon, and Bashline’s daughters grew up racing as well.
Now, her son-in-law Jason Johansen of Fort Collins has taken up the family sport.
Johansen has been an Our Gang member for about 10 years, and races both studs and cheaters — long screws that stick out of the tires for traction.
He also competes in endurance racing for rock crawlers across the Southwest, saying that it and ice-racing are completely different things. The former involves long races with lots of empty desert, while the latter has racers compete on very short courses — so short that there’s no room for error, he described.
While it is a long drive from Fort Collins to Georgetown, Johansen said that, after all that time traveling to deserts around the Southwest, he’s used to commuting to races.
“There aren’t many places you can do this,” he said of ice-racing.
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