If you like exciting competition on snow- or ice-covered courses, this is lining up to be a great weekend. The last day of January and first weekend of February are ushering in some great snowmobile racing action at sites across the U.S. and Canada. And, even if you can’t make it to the track, you can watch a couple of the most high profile events from the comfort of your home with online broadcasts. Let’s take a quick look at three of this weekend’s prime events.
The 46th annual Soo I-500
One of the most historic and high-profile races in all of snowmobiling is the 500-lap, 500-mile Soo I-500 race in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. This is the big daddy of all snowmobile enduro races, as race teams compete NASCAR-style on an ice covered track, complete with pit stops, major strategic moves and enough high-speed action to make arm hair stand on end.
As this is being written, the field for the Soo is still being finalized, but we know that a Yamaha will be on the pole, the two-time defending champion is looking strong, the event’s only 8-time winner is back on new equipment and there are other surprises on tap as well – and that’s all before the race begins Saturday morning!
The pole-sitting sled is the No. 85 Yamaha SR Viper run by Eichenberg Racing. Driven by second-generation drivers Kris and Kirk Eichenberg, the team recorded a time of 40.793 – exactly a half-second faster than any other sled. That’s a big margin in a field this talented.
The other sled on the front row belongs to Team Blu Racing, but don’t let the name deceive you: this is a Polaris driven team with drivers that include Cardell Potter of oval sprint fame. Lurking right behind them will be the powerful Cadarette Collision team, with Troy DeWald being the most high profile driver on the Arctic Cat team. Lurking one row behind Cadarette will be the Bunke Racing effort two-time defending champion Gabe Bunke. That Polaris team normally lays low and fits into the middle during the week-long qualifying process leading into the Soo, but they have been fast all week this year.
And a row behind that team: 8-timer Corey Davidson on a Yamaha this year, starting in the eighth position. Another note to watch: the Christian Brother Arctic Cat team is back this year with Brian Dick and Ryan Simons, but a notably different setup, using one of the new Arctic Cat’s featuring the 1049cc Yamaha four-stroke the brand shares with Yamaha SR Viper models.
There are so many good teams in this race – from RR to Felzke, Hoose to LMB and beyond: this is by far the hardest race to pick a top 6 in, but that’s the chore for the Snowmobile Racing Challenge fantasy game that will go live later this afternoon. The entire race, which can run 6 hours or longer, can be watched live Saturday on UStream.
ISOC At Deadwood
After a long break that included the Winter X Games, the national Amsoil Champion Series gets back into action this afternoon in Deadwood, South Dakota. It also can be watched live anyplace that has an internet connection, right here on snowgoer.com.
Tucker Hibbert has yet to be beat this year, making him the favorite in the Pro Open class again this weekend, but there continues to be a hungry group of youngsters led by Kody Kamm, Tim Tremblay, Kyle Pallin, Justin Broberg and Cody Thomsen who are waiting for the T-train to hit some friction and slow down its roll.
Racing has already begun in Deadwood, but the Pro programs go live Friday and Saturday night at 6 p.m. local time (Mountain). Tune in to snowgoer.com and watch the racing unfold. Also, there is a fantasy Snowmobile Racing Challenge game based on this event. Make your best guesses now.
The return of oval racing in the form of the Alexandria Winter Spectacular to Alexandria, Minnesota, is big news in central Minnesota. This town has a long history within snowmobile racing circles, dating back to 1974, and we’re excited to see it come back at this ORA-sanctioned event.
Racing has already started on the oval and will continue through today, and then will pick back up Saturday morning at 9 a.m.
There will also be an oval Snowmobile Racing Challenge game for the Pro Champ 440 class – sign up now and make your best guess on who will finish on top Saturday afternoon.