Park Rapids grad Blake Higgins ready to race
Higgins will be racing in both the sport stock and sport improved stock at this weekend’s Heartland 200 snowmobile race this weekend.
Park Rapids graduate Blake Higgins will be racing in both the sport stock and sport improved stock at this weekend’s Heartland 200 snowmobile race.
The 2018 graduate of Park Rapids Area High School is attending college at North Dakota State University, where he is studying mechanical engineering and industrial manufacturing engineering.
Higgins has been racing snowmobiles since 2017.
“I raced the Heartland 200 for the first time in 2020, winning the classic class, " he said. “The 2021 race was a lake race, so I did not race that year.”
During the 2022 Heartland 200, he finished fifth – in spite of losing his snowmobile seat during the race.
“I was running in a podium position when my seat fell off my snowmobile at about the halfway point,” he said. “I held on to a 5th place finish, while also holding my seat onto my snowmobile for 50 miles.”
He said the trails have been looking very good this year.
“They’ve developed a good base over the past couple weeks, so hopefully a little bit of snow between now and the race will help keep the course fresh,” he said. “The race route covers a lot of different terrain and trail types from our area, so some sections are always rougher than others. In the past I have stuck to the classic class because I enjoy seeing how far I can push the older equipment. It kind of adds another aspect to racing.”
Pushing the limits
“I race because it pushes me to improve myself and be the best at something,” he said. “Unlike team sports, once the race starts, there’s nobody to coach you and tell you what to do. I like that independence and ability to race my own way. I love snowmobile racing because it pushes a racer to perform perfectly for anywhere between minutes and hours on end, depending on the racing discipline.”
He said while much time goes into preparing the machines to perform at their best, at the end of the day finishing position is determined completely by a racer.
“Once the green flag drops, there’s nothing except for you and your machine competing to prove that you have what it takes to win,” he said.
Higgins began racing snowmobile watercross with the International Watercross Association circuit, hitting three races in 2017 and the entire circuit every year since 2018. He has competed in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Iowa.
"I began racing drags in 2017, and took up oval racing in the 2018 season,” he said. “In 2020, I moved up to the pro class. In my six years of watercross racing, I have had 20 podium finishes and have won three world championships.”
He said the sport of snowmobiling is constantly improving between the four manufacturers that are constantly trying to one-up each other.
“Every year, new improvements are made, making sleds faster, lighter, and better handling,” he said. “I’ve owned snowmobiles from six different decades, and it’s really cool to see the innovations over the years. I’m very excited to see where the drive for perfection will take the sport next.”