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World-class racing event hits golden anniversary

The oldest, grandest event in snowmobile racing history is about to get even better with added competition, prize money and pageantry scheduled for the 50th running of the AMSOIL World Championship Snowmobile Derby in Eagle River this weekend.

If you haven’t been to the Snowmobile Derby in recent years — or ever — there is no better year to check it out than when the prize purse for first place goes from $10,000 to a whopping $60,000 in the title class alone.

It is not often that some of the world’s top sports competitors come to the Eagle River area, other than for a vacation. But it will happen this Thursday through Sunday, when the best snowmobile racers on the globe converge on this small northern Wisconsin city for the top show in snowmobile racing.

The Derby promotes international competition at its best, not unlike professional hockey and major league baseball — where elite athletes from the United States and Canada go head-to-head.

What an opportunity for North Woods residents to view a world-class sporting event so close to home. The racers will come from as far away as the Canadian provinces of Quebec, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, as well as Vermont, New Hampshire and other East Coast states.

Fans should know that the event will happen this weekend with or without snow, thanks to a track of solid ice and snowmaking machines that have produced enough snow for a Sno-Cross track inside the famed oval.

The best competitors from numerous racing circuits will try once again to win the crown of “World Champion.” It can only happen in Eagle River, the Snowmobile Capital of the World.

Track owners have worked hard to ensure that most of the former world champions and Derby queens will return for the 50th anniversary event — the faces we remember most from a winner’s circle that was initiated at the first event on Dollar Lake in 1964. Also, motorsports legend Bobby Unser and Indy voice Paul Paige will return for the big event.

Spectators will converge on the North Woods by the thousands, from across the United States and Canada, to witness the action, the suspense and the atmosphere of this unique event. In this newspaper, you’ll find a salute to the first 49 years — a special section of racing recaps, feature stories and photo essays made possible by area businesses.

The Eagle River Derby, often labeled the Indy 500 of snowmobile racing, is truly in a class all its own. Racing for a prize and cash purse of more than $150,000, and much more in prestige and sponsorships for the years ahead, drivers put everything on the line to win here.

What a show thousands of fans will see at Friday Night Thunder, kicked off by a magnificent fireworks display above the Derby grounds. The night will include a Sweet Sixteen race — where the top qualifiers battle for the right to sit the pole in Sunday’s title race.

Come and see for yourself. See legendary greats compete for a Top 10 ring and the World Championship of oval racing.


Behind the editorial ‘we’


Members of the Vilas County News-Review editorial board include Publisher Kurt Krueger, Editor Gary Ridderbusch and Assistant Editor Anthony Drew.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 4:47 PM

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