The history of Cross Country Snowmobile Racing
The history of Cross Country Snowmobile Racing holds stories of racers who have competed against the rough terrains in extreme weather. It can be dated back to the 1960s when the first Cross Country Snowmobile Racing took place. In 1966 the first cross country race in history, I-500 which is the snowmobile racing related to USCC Racing Association, was organized. From Winnipeg, Manitoba to Saint Paul, Minnesota it was a 3-day event with 500 miles to cover (170 miles a day).
A Glimpse from I-500, 1966
The I-500 acted as a base for the cross country snowmobile racing and from there, it had gone through many ups and downs. It was at its peak of popularity during the 1970s, and then slowly started fading away in the 1980s. This was mainly due to the cease in the operation of Winnipeg to St. Paul I-500.
In 1987, there was some positive scenario with the efforts of cross country racers and organizers. They resurrected the I-500 in the form of Jeep 500, between Thunder Bay and the Twin Cities. And there came a phase when the snowmobiles were built exclusively for racing. Some of these models include the 1990 Arctic Cat EXT Special, the 1990 Ski-Doo Formula Plus 500, and the 1991 Polaris XC 400.
In 1992, with the efforts of John Daniels, a former cross country racer, the International Series of Champions was launched with a view to make cross country racing profitable to the racers. They conducted individual races throughout the northern parts of Minnesota. It was a huge success with good participation and paydays. Other famous races include TRF Ironman 250, Albertville 100.
Again, the late 1990s saw a decline in cross-country racing participation. In 2003, another former racer Pat Mach of the USSC circuit envisioned to reprise cross country racing and also the 500-mile events. Events were organized throughout northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota. There was respectable participation in these events.
Pat Mach had the plan of reviving the I-500 between Winnipeg and Saint Paulo for the 2012 season. He professed that point to point race that too crossing the Canadian-US border would pump the racing scenario to a great extend. However, with his death in 2012, his dream never met reality.
Former two-time I-500 race winner Brian Nelson launched USXC with the help of USCC members in 2013. They organized the Winnipeg to Willmar, 4-day 600 mile event in 2015 which was a huge success. Now, Cor Powersports has purchased USXC and planned to conduct events including I-500 in 2020. The COVID restrictions and the delay in the onset of the winter season have affected the cross-country snowmobile races in the season 2020-21. But there were changes in the plans later on and most of the racing circuits conducted races.
Upcoming Cross Country Snowmobile Races
The Cor Powersports released a tentative schedule of 2021-22 races. The season is expected to start with the Pink Lake opener, Gerald Dyrdahl Memorial race from December 11- December 12, 2021from Gonvick, Minnesota. The race teams from the Midwest and even Canada travel to Gonvick, a little town in Northern Minnesota to race against each other. All cross country race lovers would like to add this to their win list where the sleds race against each other at 100mph speed.
The Okoboji 100 headed by Dickinson County Snowhawks club is going to be a two-day lake race at Parks Marina, Okoboji, Iowa from January 15- January 16, 2022. The course length is expected to be 10 miles.
The Heartland 200 in Park Rapids, Minnesota is returning for its 2020-21 season from January 29- January 30, 2022. The race covers 120 miles full of wooded trails and ditches. So it is a very technical course different from other courses in the circuit. There should be no room for mistakes in this speed race for 250 miles.
I-500 will be on every trail rider’s bucket list. Most riders dream of participating in this race. The original I-500 was from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Saint Paul, Minnesota, a three-day-long race. The one offered by Cor is today’s version, Goodridge-Grygla 500, covering 500 miles in two days. The course is covered with rough ditches, rivers, woods, and deep holes. I-500 features a 250-mile loop running from Goodridge – Grygla, to Roseau, and back. The high-speed race for 500 miles can cause a lot of wear and tear to your snowmobile so the snowmobile used should be durable and reliable.
Another new addition to the Cor racing list is Nisswa 100 presented by Grand View Lodge from
February 26- February 27, 2022. Nisswa 100 course is approximately 50 miles in length, having lakes and woods.
Naytahwaush Night Riders 100 will take place from March 5- March 6, 2022, in Naytahwaush, Minnesota. This event has been a big hit for over 50 years.
Whitecap Mountain Resort will host another cross-country snowmobile race for Cor Powersports on March 26. Its length is 4-5 miles. Other details are expected to be published later on.
Rock Maple Racing conducts snowmobile cross-country races in Maine, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. They conducted 2021 season races till February 2021. The upcoming winter schedule is not available yet.
Snowmobile manufacturers like Polaris have already released models aiming at cross-country riders for the new season. One such model is the Polaris Indy 600 Cross Country. It is a race sled on the Matryx platform. It has been tested on the toughest tracks. Polaris Indy has a 600 Cleanfire Engine with Pro CC rear suspension and PRT Brakes. It has a lightweight flywheel, cup, and rotating assembly. Aggressive engine calibration makes it suitable for the cross-country snowmobile racing season.
In conclusion, the manufacturers are also prepared for welcoming the season of cross country as well as the ardent fans of the sport. Let this season bring moments to cherish the 55-year long history of cross country racing is known for.