Wausau 525 snowmobile race has new home for 2012 and beyond

The 2012 Wausau 525 snowmobile race has a new home, after seven years at Sunny Vale Park.

The race, which draws between 65 and 75 snowmobile racers each year and up to 1,000 spectators, will be held Jan. 27-29 in the middle of about 40 acres of land in the 8000 block of Highway NN owned by Ralph Merwin, founder of the race.

Merwin said today the plan to move the race has been in the works for about two years. The lake in Sunny Vale Park, on which the race has been held since 2004, is dependent on temperature and is prone to cracks and a rough surface that presents challenges to racers.

The new track still will be made of ice, from a pond in the middle of the track that holds up to 1.5 million gallons of water. But underneath the ice is a dirt oval track that will be easier to groom, Merwin said. The new track also includes 8-foot banked corners and extra bales of straw around the edges that will make the race safer for the riders. Adding to the safety factor is a 110-foot-wide racing lane, compared to 80-foot-wide lanes at Sunny Vale, which racer Matt Schulz said today will give riders more room to pass each other.

Construction on the project, which race manager Chris Briquelet said will cost at least $100,000, began six weeks ago. He and Merwin said they hope to have the track complete before the frost sets in this fall.

Hotel Roquement - Motoneige - Snowmobile

See Friday’s Wausau Daily Herald in print and online for more on this story.