Feb. 12, 2007

Vintage snowmobile races on Howard Lake

By Jenni Sebora

Although this is the second year in a row the race on Howard Lake has been cancelled due to lake and weather conditions, the enthusiasm for the sport continues to grow. There are various vintage races throughout the winter across the state and nation.

If one likes car racing, one will most likely enjoy vintage snowmobile racing, as well.

That’s what vintage snowmobile enthusiast and Howard Lake resident Troy Lange feels.

“It’s a lot like NASCAR racing,” Lange said.

Four years ago, Lange brought that enthusiasm to Howard Lake with its first vintage snowmobile race – right on the south side of Howard Lake.

In the first two years of its run, the race was a big hit, Lange noted.

Through word of mouth, radio and newspaper advertising, and distributed fliers, the race was full of vintage snowmobile enthusiasts, young and old, male and female, competitive and novice racers.

“We had two successful races,” Lange said. “It’s really a fun, fun time,” Lange added, describing the Howard Lake race, as well as vintage racing in general.

And Lange hopes that next year, the race on Howard Lake will go on.

This year, the event would have included more than just 1973 and older single-cylinder classes. Adding more classes allows for more availability of snowmobiles, making the race more “user friendly,” to allow for more people to participate, Lange noted.

“It can be hard to find 1973 and older single-cylinder snowmobiles,” Lange said.

Nine classes of 1973 and older singlecylinder races, one 1980 and older open MOD single-cylinder races and five classes of 1985 and older twin-cylinder classes would have comprised the competition this year.

The event includes a senior class, powder puff class for women, and a junior class. Younger racers must have snowmobile certificates, Lange noted.

And Lange noted that the women racers are just as competitive as the men.

These vintage snowmobile events can be a family event, “something for everyone,” Lange noted.

“You’ll find moms, dads, and kids racing, and everyone cheering everyone on. It’s a fun time,” Lange said.

The race on Howard Lake takes place on the south side of the lake, on a half-mile oval lap. The races are run in four-lap heats with a six lap, 3-mile final in each division.

Vintage One Lunger Series (Vols) organization actually sets up the race course and provides the insurance for the event. But it’s Lange who provides the portable bathrooms and makes sure the track is plowed. Lange also gets help from local sponsors, such as Joe’s Sport Shop, the local Sons of Legion, and the bank to hold the event, Lange explained.

There are admission fees to participate in the races. The money goes toward the cost of the event, insurance ,and the pay-out prizes.

All the Vols races award points, trophies, and payout, Lange noted. And the point system is a lot like the NASCAR point system. In fact, vintage snowmobile racing is a lot like car racing, in general.

“You get fans, just like car racing,” Lange said.

Lange, himself, is the points champion in Vintage One Lunger Series. And local New Germany native Jacob Goede is the world-reigning vintage snowmobile champion. Goede races a 1973 triple-cylinder Polaris Star.

“Goede rocks. He is very fun to watch,” Lange said.

Vintage One Lunger Series is just one of the vintage snowmobiling organizations that host various racing events. These different associations, such as Vols, SLEDS, ROLA Racing, and Wolf Lake Racing, are based out of different regions and geographical areas of the state.

“As the sport grows, the hard line between the different snowmobile organizations drops,” Lange said, who races with Vols and SLEDS.

Lange recently traveled to Glenwood, Minn. to race in its annual vintage snowmobile rally. He raced seven different snowmobiles, three single-cylinder and four twin-cylinder snowmobiles.

The world championship takes place in Eagle River, Wis.

Although Lange enjoys the competition, he also says it’s about the camaraderie shared between the racers, themselves, and the spectators.

It’s a culmination of putting it all together, racing, and the competition and the camaraderie afterwards, Lange said of vintage snowmobile racing.

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