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Sixteen-year-old local snowmobile racer does well at Heartland 106

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Ean Voigt, 16, and father, Jeff Voigt, walk part of the course as they talk racing strategy prior to Ean competing in the Expert 85 Final on Sunday at the Heartland 106 USXC Snowmobile Racing on Fish Hook Lake. (Kevin Cederstrom / Enterprise)2 / 6
Ean Voigt, 16, of Park Rapids gets a little air under his ski as he goes into a turn during the Semi Pro 600 finals of the Heartland 106 on Fish Hook Lake on Sunday. (Kevin Cederstrom / Enterprise)3 / 6
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Voigt comes off the start in 4th place during the Expert 85 Stock finals on Sunday. (Kevin Cederstrom / Enterprise)6 / 6

Local racer Ean Voigt had a pretty good weekend overall in his hometown, but the racing results Sunday could have been a little better at the Heartland 106 United States X-Country Snowmobile event on Fish Hook Lake.  Voigt finished the weekend with a first place overall in the Expert 85 Improved class and second in the Expert 85 Stock class.  The 16-year-old snowmobile racer is considered young as he competes in some of the upper classes on the USXC circuit against guys a few years older than him.  

The Expert 85 Stock was the race he really wanted to win, both for the competition and the nice cash payout. Second place in the heads-up finals looks good but Ean knows that was the race to win.  

“I would rather have taken first,” he said. “I started in the number one spot and heading into the first turn I got pushed into the bank.”  

With the best time in qualifying on Saturday, Ean and father Jeff chose the first spot on the inside for the heads-up final on Sunday.   That move didn’t work out the way they wanted and Ean  came off the start in fourth place going into the first turn. He had just four laps to battle his way up to second place.  Ean moved into third place after two laps and jumped up to second place in lap three but couldn’t catch the leader.  “I got slowed down at the start and everyone got around me. You have to be pretty much up there the whole time to win,” he said of his second place finish.  Each lap was 10.6 miles around Fish Hook Lake.  After such a slow start and tough position Ean worked his way up to second, at times about 15 seconds behind the leader, to nearly catch winner Hunter Houle.

Ean finished three seconds behind Houle.  Jeff Voigt and mechanic Jon Koch figured one more lap and the kid would have caught the leader. Runner-up was good, but with the fastest time going into the finals Ean was the favorite to win the Expert 85, which left him okay with second but certainly not satisfied.  “This definitely would have been the biggest win of his career,” Jeff said.  Ean clocked out at 96 mph on the straightaway.  The difference from first to second in money, they estimated, will be about $2,000 for first and about $600 for second. Exact payout comes in the mail.  The Expert 85 Improved took a combined time of all three races Saturday and Sunday. In the three races Voigt ran his snowmobile a total of nine laps, about 95 miles, over the two days and won by one second.  Ean also competed in the Semi Pro 600cc Final on Sunday where he finished 8th place out of the 13 racers. At 16, he was the youngest racer on Sunday. Most guys in the Semi Pro are 20-30.  

Ean began racing snowmobiles at age 6 and continues to move up the ranks. Trophies are nice but Ean says he’s got enough of those.  “In my garage at home I bet he has 300 trophies in the rafters,” Jeff said.  Now it’s about winning cash in this sport that takes money to be successful, from entry fees to sled maintenance to travel expenses.  Ean sits in second place overall in the point standings on the USXC circuit with two races remaining in Warroad and Naytahwaush.       

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