Don’t let the weather fool you – it is snowmobile racing time in Eagle River. The mild weather is a welcome change for spectators of the 20th Vintage World Championship Snowmobile Derby.
The minimal snowfall will not lessen racing excitement for snowmobile fans attending the Vintage races, January 8 – 10. The World Championship Derby Complex plays host to this racing event whose popularity has skyrocketed over the years. The grassroots appeal combines a more affordable racing genre with a deeply embedded nostalgic quality.
Tinkering on these older sleds a truly a throwback to the “old days” of snowmobiling when working on a sled on the trail was often part of the daily riding experience.
The vintage races are a bright spot for the future of snowmobile racing as evidenced by the hundreds of racers who participate every year. As far back as 2009, there were 700 registered racers.
This is no lightweight event, either. There is a 31-page Vintage Oval Racing rules document governing the racing classes and the associated specifications. Most of the classes include snowmobiles manufactured in 1985 and older. There is one class showcasing sleds from 1991 and older. A few qualifying snowmobile classes also date back to the early 80s and 70s.
Practice runs are on Thursday, January 7; racing begins Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Friday Night Thunder. That evening there are more than 15 separate races on the schedule.
Moving on to Saturday, the track opens at 8:00 a.m. and races start at 9:00 a.m. featuring more than 25 classes. Then at 3:00 p.m., the Vintage World Championship qualifying race determines the top 10 participants.
Sunday, January 10, the jam-packed schedule starts at 8:00 a.m. when the gates open. Racing begins at 9:00 a.m., highlighted by the 10-lap Vintage World Championship Snowmobile Derby final race scheduled for 3:00 p.m.
Two hours after the final race, awards are presented to the winning drivers outside the Expo Hall. Trophies will be awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places in each class.
In addition to watching these thrilling races, fans can shop at the vendor and manufacturer displays or grab some soul-satisfying food found in the Expo Hall and on the Derby grounds. The Expo Hall will remain open for the fans after each day’s races.
Tickets go on sale at the track Friday at 8:00 a.m. General admission for Friday and Saturday are $20 each day, Sunday is $25. Buy a three-day Super Ticket for $60.
There will be COVID-19 precautions taken at the races including social distancing set ups in the Hot Boxes. There will be no Derby Queen or Princesses handing out awards. Fans will see a reduced number of displays and increased spacing in the Expo Hall. Food will be available inside and outside. Signs requesting masks be worn and a large number of hand sanitizers will be scattered throughout the grounds.
To learn more about this and all the races held at the World Championship Derby Complex, visit their website https://derbycomplex.com/ or their Facebook page. Have a question? Call their offices at 715-479-4424.