Great chance to witness
The oldest, grandest event in snowmobile racing history is a half-century old and going strong, with the 51st running of the AMSOIL World Championship Snowmobile Derby in Eagle River slated this weekend.
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.
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.
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. The big hope for the Canadians in this year’s title event will be Travis McDonald of Gonor, Manitoba, on a Ski-Doo.
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.
The field for the coveted title race will include six former world champions, including the only four-time winner, P.J. Wanderscheid of Sauk Centre, Minn. The others include two-time champion Gary Moyle of Houghton,?Mich. and defending champion Malcolm Chartier of Fair Haven, Mich. No one is counting out local favorites Nick Van Strydonk of Tomahawk, who won the title in 2012, or Matt Schulz of Wausau, who won in 2010.
Fans should know that the event will happen this weekend regardless of the weather, for nothing has ever stopped the Derby with its solid-ice track and snowmaking machines — which have been running almost nightly since early December.
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 pages of pre-Derby information, a ranking of the probable title race finish and details of special features that will include the ever popular Sno-Cross racing on a tight-cornered, monster-jump track inside the famed oval.
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 $100,000, 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 14, 2014 12:29 PM|