The slow start to winter in many areas plus the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 coronavirus situation has scrambled the early season snowmobile racing plans. The good news is that the vast majority of race circuits are definitely planning to host a bunch of events this year, and race teams are excited to get going. But there have been some alterations. Let’s take a quick look at the oval racing below; click here to see an update on cross-country racing.
Oval Sprint And Enduro
The closed border between the United States and Canada forced the oval racing season’s first cancellation, and then another historic event announced it was skipping this season due to COVID rules. However, a relatively recent darling of Upper Midwestern oval sprint racing is returning for 2021 after a one-year hiatus.
The traditional season-opener at Beausejour, Manitoba – the Canadian Power Tobaggan Championship – was schedule for December 5-6, but local organizers announced its cancellation on November 13, noting among other things how many of its racers come from the United States who would be unable to cross the border into Canada.
Three days later the organizers of the Ironwood Snowmobile Olympus in Ironwood, Michigan, also cancelled their planned January 1-3 event, stating, “Unfortunately, after reviewing all of the current state and local laws and lengthy discussions about how we can best serve our community, the decision has been made to CANCEL the 2020/21 Ironwood Snowmobile Olympus.”
Both events, though, stated strongly that they are already making plans for events next season.
That all means that the first notable oval race of the season this year will be Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby in Eagle River, Wisconsin, January 14-17 – allowing oval sprint racing to mirror NASCAR in a sense by having its biggest event of the year to kick off the season.
It’s not all bad news, however: oval fans and racers in the Upper Midwest are excited by the return of the Wausau 525 Snowmobile Championship in Wausau, Wisconsin, on January 23-24. The purpose-made oval track built by the family of the late Flip Merwin fell off the schedule a year ago, with local organizers saying they were going to re-form the track surface. Well the track is now done and the race is back on the schedule.
The USSA Pro Star season includes those two stops, plus the Fire On Ice event in Weyauwega, Wisconsin, followed by two or possibly three rounds of racing back at the Eagle River track on February 19-21.
The Michigan-based Midwest International Racing Association (MIRA) circuit has a six-event schedule posted on its website. It includes the “big dog” of endure racing, the Soo I-500 on February 6, as well as returning events at Kinross, Lincoln, Gaylord and Caro, Michigan. New this year is an enduro on the Championship Sunday at the Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby, after the sprint racers determine their champion.
The Ontario Snowmobile Oval Racers circuit released a planned/tentative five weekend series schedule on November 2, starting January 23-24 at Viamede Resort at Kawatha Lakes, Ontario, and including the famous Bonnechere Cup February 19-21 in Eganville, Ontario. Hopefully the border will be open by then and the oval racing community can come together at the event.
Meanwhile, the Grand Prix de Valcourt in Quebec announced that it is planning on hosting its event this coming February, but the event will not include ice oval racing. Snocross and snow bike racing will be the primary focus this year.