A World Champion in snowmobile racing is crowned every year in the summer heat – that’s right, we said snowmobile racing.
Affectionately known as “Grantsburg Weekend” in the Upper Midwest, July 19-21, 2019, is when the best watercross racers from across the globe will descend on Grantsburg, Wisconsin, and its famous Memory Lake pond to determine the best of the best when it comes to moving fast across water and not sinking on a snowmobile in the summer – a.k.a., the 43rd Annual World Championship Snowmobile Watercross.
It’s a wacky event for sure – riders and sleds seemingly dance on the waves in a high-speed game of chance and skill; those who suffer a mechanical problem or lose control of their snowmobile end up bobbing on the water’s surface while their sled sinks into the murky depths – later to be retrieved by a special pontoon and its pulley system. But don’t let the wackiness distract from the competition – the athleticism and driver skill combined with some incredibly powerful machines and always changing waves/water conditions makes this one of the most entertaining snowmobile events you’ll ever see. And, you can watch it all while wearing flip-flops and shorts, sitting in a lawn chair and drinking adult beverages!
Plus, the Grantsburg watercross is at the center of a larger town festival – take in the street dance, fireworks, vendor booths, live music, carnival atmosphere and food, either for a day or for the full weekend, with local camping also available.
Bound To Be Competitive
Qualifying action for the World Championship Watercross begins Friday, with drag racing in the 600 and 850 Stock classes plus the 850 Open class. The annual East/West watercross challenge is a part of the Grantsburg show on Friday this year, and a large contingent of racers is expected from the East to balloon entries and raise the stakes against the more local boys. There’s even a vintage show and race.
Saturday the action really gets stirred up on Memory Lake with qualifying in all of the oval classes, starting at about 9:30 a.m. Drivers will compete in Stock and high-winding Open classes in both Pro and Semi-Pro ranks, and the Women’s class continues to grow in both driver entries and entertainment. There will be freestyle action, sled jumping on the water and other general shenanigans before things go quiet on the lake and the biggest party of the weekend occurs on the shore Saturday night with music and fireworks.
Sunday is when drivers make their runs at history in every class – quarterfinal elimination rounds begin at 10 a.m. as the fields are whittled to exciting finals. The Semi-Pro oval classes bear particular watching in the undercard – both Semi-Pro Stock and Semi-Pro Open have more than 30 driver entries so far!
The big daddy of them all, though, is the Pro Open final, which usually starts at about 4 p.m. This is where a true Watercross World Champion will be crowned. For eight laps, the racers who qualify deny gravity, conventional wisdom and common sense as they roil the waters and run fast laps until one crosses the finish line first.
Wondering who to watch? Among the Midwestern entrants, keep an eye out for young David Fischer of Eagan, Minnesota, on the No. 36 Polaris – he swept the Pro Open heats and final three weeks ago in an International Watercross Association (IWA) event in Wisconsin; former champ Shawn Zurn of Downing, Wisconsin, on the No. 76 Polaris – winner of the IWA season-opener in Minnesota on June 1; and Joe Schellbach of Rush City, Minnesota, on the No. 550 Arctic Cat – a two-time podium finisher so far this year. But with a slew of entries from the East, plenty of veteran mixed in and the unpredictability of watercross, the person carrying the checkered flag on Sunday could be a surprise!