Fast and Frozen- racing on Ghost Lake
By Zach Poole, Contributor
Countless automotive enthusiasts have been flocking to the Ghost Lake reservoir, roughly 30 minutes west of Calgary, where local motorsports team, Faster Higher, has built a race track on the surface of the frozen lake. The track, which opened on Dec. 30, 2021, features various turns and straightaways for drivers to test their skills and their vehicles in a controlled environment that is not on a public roadway. Spare room on the ice surface and the lake’s boat launch parking lot, located just off Highway 1A, allowing for spectators to socialize, view the track and for drivers to await their turn.
This is not the first time Ghost Lake has seen winter motorsports. The lake, which is home to TransAlta’s “Ghost” hydropower plant, has been used in previous years as a location for the Calgary Sports Car Club’s (CSCC) “Ice Dice.”
Ice Dice is a motorsport event where competitors race around an ice track one at a time against the clock. Last hosted at Ghost Lake in 2018, The CSCC has since moved their annual event to McGregor Lake and will be hosting it again this year.
The Faster Higher team primarily competes in drift and autocross events using highly modified road cars during the warmer months. They have amassed a considerable social media following with more than 2,700 Instagram followers on their team account since its creation in February of 2021.
The account primarily consists of photos and videos of the team’s cars, as well as recordings of them showcasing their skills and recently, updates regarding the Ghost Lake track.
As it is open to anyone, this new track provides a wide variety of benefits to professional racers and novice drivers alike. For experienced drivers, it is a safe and fun place to practice their skills in the off-season while all of the permanent racetracks in the province are closed for the winter. Additionally, it keeps any aggressive or potentially dangerous driving off of public roads, where street racing has been an increasingly discussed problem since the closure of Calgary’s last race track, Race City, in 2011. As recently as December 2021, the City of Calgary has explored options to reduce the number of illegal races by shutting down certain roadways to allow for a legal alternative.
But the benefits of the ice track extend beyond racing as it also creates a controlled environment for less experienced drivers to get to know their vehicles better. In addition, they can practice what to do in the event that their vehicle begins to slip on frozen roadways.
In addition to cars and trucks, patrons of the track have also been seen operating snowmobiles, Side-by-Sides, ATVs and motorcycles.
Even though Faster Higher constructed the track, they have stressed it is a public space and that they are not operating it, nor are they responsible for anyone’s actions on the ice. In a recorded statement posted on the team’s Instagram page, Benjamin Laflamme, founder of Faster Higher, says that they have observed dangerous behaviour by some of the track’s users, as well as littering on the ice surface.
“We need to keep this space clean and safe for everyone,” says Laflamme in the statement. He also states that his team is now co-operating with the Cochrane RCMP and that there will be a police presence at the lake to ensure safe behaviour by the track’s users in the future. Additionally, Faster Higher has encouraged drivers to use the track at their own discretion as temperatures increase and ice conditions may begin to deteriorate.