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Park Rapids 106 returns with cross country snowmobile racing

Cross country snowmobile racing returns this year to the USXC Park Rapids 106 scheduled for Jan. 21-22.

Racers and event organizers are excited and snow conditions are right for cross country racing after the last two years running on Fish Hook Lake. This year is different with enough snow in the ditches and the woods, making the Park Rapids 106 more attractive to USXC racers.

The race features 21 classes from Junior to Pro.

"I have had many inquiries from the racers and the general comment was it is the most exciting race of the year and wouldn't miss it for anything," said Jeff Voigt, one of the local race organizers. "With the snow conditions prime for big bumps and lots of air it will make some great spectator enjoyment. With the forecast temperatures close to freezing I expect the turnout of racers and spectators to be record breaking for this event."

The start/finish line and pits both Saturday and Sunday will be on Highway 34 out front of Bogey's. The Saturday race, 12 to 15 miles, will run south from the start line down to Highway 6, along the ditch to New Frontier Resort and onto Long Lake. Racers will come off Long Lake on the southeast side and run in the ditches on the Hubbard prairie north and east. The race will come back to Peysenke Lake, cross to the west side and cross County Road 20.

Racers will then run the ditch south on the west side two miles and turn west to Long lake. From there they will head north up Long Lake to the public access and down the Highway 34 ditch back to the finish line.

Sunday's race is about 100 miles north on Highway 4 to Emmaville, then turn west and run Alligator Alley back around to Highway 4. Racers will cross Highway 4 and run the east ditch up to the scout trail and west into Paul Bunyan State Forest.

The race route crosses Highway 64 and down Steamboat Forest Road across Highway 64 to the Akeley cutoff trail, then south back to County Road 25 to the Heartland Trail. Racers will follow the trail through Nevis and onto Lake Belle Taine and cross the lake back to the bridge and continue to Highway 4, and back to the finish line.

This is the fifth year of the USXC race in Park Rapids and the first year the Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce is directly involved in sponsorship and marketing of the event.

"The Chamber has partnered this year in order to expand awareness in the community," said Chamber Director Nicole Lalum. "The amount of coverage the USXC brings is great and it brings a lot of attention to the Park Rapids area for this race."

Lalum said the Chamber looks to expand seasonal coverage for the area to help sponsor and promote events in what are considered "shoulder months" on either side of the busy season as far as visitors to the area.

"This brings Park Rapids back to the map as far as snowmobiling," she said.

Lalum said they expect people from Michigan, Wisconsin, Canada, North Dakota and South Dakota to come to town who are directly involved in the race.

"The impact here on that weekend is pretty significant for January. We hope after being here they will come and visit, and the coverage will bring other people to the area."

Along with the local race organizers, the city, DNR and snowmobile clubs are involved in putting the event together. Lalum said being able to run the race cross country and through the Paul Bunyan State Forest is an exciting opportunity for racers and for that reason they expect good attendance this weekend.

The Chamber encourages those interested in volunteering at the race, with 50 to 60 people needed for spotting along the race route, to contact the Chamber office.

Brian Nelson, of Spicer, is owner of the USXC. He is a former cross country snowmobile racer who won the Winnipeg to St. Paul I-500 in 1976 and again in 1978.

Nelson owned a snowmobile dealership and operated a snowmobile and motorcycle tour business since 1980, and was inducted into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 2000.

For more race information go to www.usxcracing.com.

PARK RAPIDS RACE SCHEDULE — Jan. 21st & 22nd, 2017

Online registration ends at 8:00 PM Thursday, Jan. 19th. Or you can register in person on Friday, Jan. 20th at the C'Mon Inn between 4:00 PM and 7:30 PM. No registration on Sat. If you would like to pay cash for your registration, we recommend going online and registering then you can pay Friday evening. If you are renting a transponder we will need a CC card imprint. You will be charged $250.00 if it's not returned.

If you would like to pre-ride the Sat. course you must do it Friday afternoon. There will be no pre-ride on Sat. morning. MN Conservation Officers have expressed concern about racers pre-riding the course AT SPEED and they will be out patrolling the woods. Pre-Tech is at the USXC Tech trailer from 3:30 PM to 5:30 PM on Friday. There will be Pre-Tech Sat. morning also.

**Scoring will be determined by TOTAL TIME OF THE TWO DAYS. (I-500 style)**

SATURDAY, Jan. 21st

8:15 AM — Drivers meeting

7:30 to 8:30 AM — Pre tech

8:30 AM — Staging for race #1

9:00 AM — First race starts

• Race #1 — 9:00 AM

Pro Open, Semi Pro Imp., Masters 40, Expert 85, Sport 600 (2 lap heat — 50 miles) THIS IS A FINAL FOR PRO OPEN ONLY.

• Race #2 — 10:30 AM

Classic IFS, Classic IFS Masters, Junior Boys 14-17, Junior Girls 14-17, Vintage, Vintage Legends, Junior Boys 10-13, Junior Girls 10-13 (1 lap heat — 25 miles)

• Race #3 — 11:30 AM

Pro Women, I 500, Trail, Expert 85 Imp., Sport 85 (2 lap heat — 50 miles)

• Race #4 — 12:45 AM

Masters 50, Semi Pro, Sport 600 Imp. (2 lap heat — 50 miles)

• Race #5 — 2:00 PM

Pro Stock (2 lap heat — 50 miles)

All Saturday heats will determine your starting position for Sunday. Sunday's start will be an I-500 style. Repairs are allowed at your trailers, but ALL sleds must be staged by 5:00 PM on Saturday. There will be security lights. Pro Open, Junior 10-13, and Vintage will run Saturday only. You must run the same sled both days. All racers are required to carry a cell phone on this type of race.

SUNDAY, Jan. 22nd

8:00 AM — Drivers meeting

Due to the warm weather forecast, racing will start at 8:30 AM. This is a 120 mile course. The top sleds in each class will leave according to their time. There will be a fuel stop at the 50-mile mark. There is very little room at this location. You have to purchase a 1 stop fuel pass in order to fuel, it's on the USXC web site. A sticker will be issued at Pre-Tech. Saturday's race will only be for Sunday's starting position.

Awards will be one hour after the end of the race at the West 40 Restaurant on HWY 34 on the west side of Park Rapids.

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