Snowmobile race returns this weekend

BY Anna This year's Heartland 106 Snowmobile Race is an ice race on Fish Hook Lake, which is good news for spectators who will have a great opportunity to watch snowmobilers. The Park Rapids race, Jan. 3...

USXC races
Snowmobilers from across the region will head to Park Rapids this weekend for the Heartland 106 Snowmobile Race. This is the third annual race in Park Rapids. (Enterprise file photo)

BY Anna Erickson

This year’s Heartland 106 Snowmobile Race is an ice race on Fish Hook Lake, which is good news for spectators who will have a great opportunity to watch snowmobilers.
The Park Rapids race, Jan. 31-Feb. 1, is part of the United States X-Country Snowmobile Racing circuit.
Brian Nelson, of Spicer, organizes the United States X-Country Snowmobile Racing circuit.
Nelson is a former cross-country snowmobile racer who won the Winnipeg-to-St. Paul I-500 in 1976 aboard Enduro Team Deere, and again in 1978 for Team Arctic. He 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.
This is the third annual event. Last year’s race was a success, with two days of racing that brought hundreds of people to the area.
A Park Rapids promoters group reported adding $1,000 per class to the top seven classes, for a total of $7,000 added to the purse, according to the USXC Racing website. Classic IFS, vintage and all junior classes race Saturday only.
This year, Park Rapids is part of the USXC Briggs and Stratton Triple Crown for youth. It is a one mile course on Fish Hook Lake and practice will be Saturday. The race is at 10 a.m. Sunday.
The launching area for the races will be at the Fish Hook Lake public access off of Highway 71 north of Park Rapids.
“The course will be about 10 miles in length and have some straight-aways and some super sharp turns,” said local organizer Craig Rossman.
Lake races are a lot more visual than a cross-country race, local organizer Jon Koch said. Binoculars are recommended to see even more of the race.
“There’s a lot to see, especially at the start/finish line,” Rossman said. Many of the classes will take four or five laps.
“There will be spectator parking on the lake and people can also walk onto the ice and find a spot to watch the races,” he said.
Three fish houses from Smokey Hills Outdoor Store will be on the ice as a warming area.
Spectators are encouraged to drive out onto the ice and park to see the action. A charge of $5 per person will help to offset the additional money being added to the racing winners’ purse. An additional $1,000 has been added to each of seven classes. Children 12 and under are free.
With a paid admission, Dorset Corner Liquor is offering 10 percent off purchases Saturday, Jan. 31-Saturday, Feb. 28. Smokey Hills Outdoor Store is offering 5 percent off select sports equipment the weekend of the event, Saturday, Jan. 31-Sunday, Feb. 1.
Setting up and hosting the snowmobile race is always a lot of work. Organizers will again need volunteers to help set up the track, be stationed along the track during the race and help with other various aspects of the race.
Fewer spotters are needed for an ice race, however, Voigt said.
If someone is interested in volunteering, call Joe Higgins at 252-4935.
Pre-registration is required online at by 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29 or onsite at the Park Rapids Ambulance Garage east of the Super 8 from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30.
Spectators can tune in to 88.1 FM for live race updates on the ice.
For more information about the race or to register, go to .

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