Snowmobiling is one of the most popular U.P. winter past times, and its history dates back to the late 1960’s when racing was huge in Ironwood.
On Sunday, history came alive when Ironwood hosted the Pro Vintage Snowmobile races for the first time. It’s been decades since the Gogebic County Fairgrounds have hosted a race of this sort.
More than 300 sled enthusiasts started their engines to compete in the historic Olympus Snowmobile race. Popular in the 70’s and 80’s, the race died with the onset of snow cross, but now it’s back, and in a big way.
"We’re excited to be back in Ironwood since vintage racing has been away from here for many years," said race director, Kurt Krueger.
"Back in the early to late 70’s, this was one of the races to be at, back when I was a kid you had to be invited to be able to come and race here," said Mark Musselman, co-owner of Woody’s Traction Products, a company in Hope Michigan that makes snowmobile parts.
Most of the sleds at the race are in excess of 30 years old, they’re vintage from the 70’s and 80’s. And make no mistake, if you’re a sled, time doesn’t slow you down with a little refurbishment.
"They’re not slower by any means at all," said Krueger. "They’re fast, some guys today may hit 100 miles an hour up here!"
Sled enthusiasts came from all over the country to compete in a number of difference races, from the midwest to New York.
But I did manage to find one young yooper from Iron River with a passion for the old.
"It’s cool to be riding the same kind of sleds that the people that really started racing and made racing famous," said Jared Coates, a racer for Clark Motor Sports. "It’s the same kind of sleds they rode back then."
Gogebic County hopes to make the race an annual tradition since it boosts their economy. Racers compete on a surface prepared by local unions and it draws attention to the community.
Pro Vintage Racing will have four more competitions through January and February in Wisconsin.