Soo I-500 Race Site To Benefit From $2 Million Grant

Soo I-500 winners
The winning team of the 53rd annual Soo I-500: Justin Tate (center) with Andy Wenzlaff (right) and Marshall Busse (left). Photo courtesy of SpeedShot Photography.

The site of one of snowmobile racing’s crown jewel events is scheduled to get a major rehab, thanks to the trickle-down of a federal government money.

The Soo I-500 race site in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, is going to benefit from the $2 million federal grant being awarded to the Sault Ste. Marie Convention and Visitors Bureau, according a press release issued today from Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, as was published on the Soo Leader website.

As usual with press releases from politicians, the amount of credit claimed for such a grant is a bit overwhelming, but ultimately this has to be seen as good news for those who appreciate the epic race known as “The Soo.” With a history dating back to 1969 and a well-earned reputation as one of the toughest one-day tests of man and machine – with drivers completing 500 laps on the 1-mile track – it’s one of sled racing’s most renowned events.

According to the press release, the project at the Soo grounds includes construction of new roads, a parking lot, a vendor building and other upgrades “that will help make the raceway venue a year-round tourist destination.” Furthermore, the EDA investment is said to be matched with $513,000 in local funds and is expected to create or retain 50 jobs and generate $2 million in private investment, according to grantee estimates. 

Certainly those 50 jobs are not at the track – the facility is largely run and overseen by a volunteer board. The press release is primarily talking about the jobs of people who will work on the facility during its update. That said, there have been countless rumors over the years about the race track site potentially being closed or repurposed by the city, so an investment on the site runs counter to those negative thoughts.

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