Next Issue: November 2018

Print Date: October 31, 2018

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Okay…so after several years of less than average snowy winters, the 2017-18 season started off with a bang, at least for most of the northern counties in Michigan, and the avid winter enthusiasts were extremely anxious to get outdoors to enjoy what Mother Nature was providing, from the hunters who went in search of that trophy buck, to the skiers who went in search of that perfect downhill run, to the snowmobilers who just couldn’t wait for the official opening of the season when the trails would be groomed and ready. For the hunters, they complied with the rules and didn’t go into the woods until their season’s opening day, and for the skiers, who didn’t do much more than wax their skis until the resorts had artificially manufactured enough snow to safely open the runs for them. But for the snowmobilers, there are always a few who just have to press their luck and jump the gun with a ride that is not only unsafe, but unethical and illegal as well. It is to these few, and any others who may be thinking of similar pre-season actions, that this is written

Follow the Rules or Prepare to Pay

This month, I am going to be just a bit different. (All right, those of you who actually know me…quit laughing.) This month, I am featuring something that is not quite a snowmobile. But it was the basis of where snowmobiling actually started. Also, there were a few different brands of these, but for this one I just happened to have one handy, which, as usual, I found at the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum in Naubinway. So for this month, my Vintage Sled of the Month is actually the Tucker Sno Cat.

Now some of you may actually be wondering why. The reason is that when J. Armand Bombardier created the recreational snowmobile back in the early 1960’s, he based his design somewhat on the tracked vehicles he was designing for use in the back country. These forerunners to modern snowmobiles were used to transport various worker type people into the heavy snow laden back country of both the US and Canada. They were made for linemen, trappers, and others that had to get way back in the bush, through the heavy snow.

Back in the day, Tucker was one of the first major companies to produce these snow machines. For me personally, a Tucker was the first groomer I ever rode in. Way back when I was just starting out here at Michigan Snowmobiler Magazine, I had an idea to do ride-alongs with groomer drivers. Because, as I keep saying, “without them, ours would be a very bumpy world.”

Vintage Sled of The Month: Tucker Sno Cat

This month I decided to do a spotlight on the whole town, Gaylord.

In our Gaylord town ad page the Gaylord Area Convention & Visitors Bureau says right in their ad, ”Gaylord’s got dibs on the sweetest snowmobiling in Michigan. Our geographically gifted position in the tip of the mitt means the sky above blows in big blizzards of lake effect snow all winter long, plus our quaint alpine city sits pretty in the middle of a snow mobile trail network that runs more then 300 miles across eight counties including the north central state trail”.

That’s a bold statement but it is all true. I live in East Jordan just down the road from Gaylord. And I know because I’ve seen it, sometimes it seems they get all the snow.

The town is full of great places to stay and play or shop to make your snowmobile experience the best it can be.

Spotlight on: Gaylord

A bit of History: Those that have been involved in the snowmobile program for more than just a few years will recall that some time ago, the advisory body that kept the DNR on track was known simply as “the Steering Committee” and eventually, the Snowmobile Advisory Committee, or SAC, that was developed from it. This SAC, put in place by the state legislature and signed into law under then Governor Engler. The SAC advised the DNR on issues of concern where snowmobiling activities might be affected, and more likely than not, ran contrary to how the DNR wanted them to. Although many of the deliberations were intense and occasionally developed into very heated disagreements, seldom did any of those involved leave the meetings harboring ill-will toward one another.

Even with as much division as there was between the snowmobilers and the program administrators, the SAC managed to find common ground with the DNR and worked diligently to improve snowmobiling conditions throughout the state. It was during the closing years of Governor Granholm’s administration that she decided to abolish councils, committees, and advisory boards under her purview, including almost all within the various divisions of the DNR, the DEQ, and most of the other state agencies. This was somewhat of a setback to the snowmobile program, as it was with other organized recreational programs, From limited research, it seems her reasoning for doing so was a restructuring of how state funds were distributed and used, and recreation was not high on her list of priorities.

Moving Forward: Under Governor Snyder it was a different story, however, and he set about reinstating various advisory boards, councils, and committees, but combining those where possible to maximize efforts of a similar nature, and so the Michigan Snowmobile Trails Advisory Council (MSTAC) was established.

Michigan Trails Advisory Committee - What it Is and What it Does.

What do bikinis and snowmobiling have in common? Usually not much, but on February 23, 2019, during the East Jordan Sno-Blast Festival, bikinis and snowmobiling will meet up.

Courtney Fender of Twisted Princess Racing and native of East Jordan will be hosting TNT’s Ride Like A Girl To Save The Girls Bikini Radar Run. The bikini radar run is a fundraiser for breast cancer. All monies raised will remain local and be distributed through the East Jordan Lioness Club. The Lioness Club will mail out gas cards to women and men going through breast cancer to help offset the cost of travel to and from doctor appointments and treatments.

Courtney is organizing the bikini run as part of her ambassadorship of TNT Lady Sledders. Both men and women are welcome to register for the radar runs, but must wear a bikini to participate. There will be prize packages for the rider with the fastest time and for the person that raises the most money. Registration forms are available now to give riders time to raise money by getting family, friends, co-workers and businesses to donate. Registration forms are available by e-mailing Courtney at, or Or the registration form can be found here. Each rider in the Bikini Run will receive a t-shirt complements of Northern MI Custom Image of East Jordan.

Courtney Fender has been racing snowmobiles for 11 years and is lucky enough to have a long list of sponsors and supporters.

When asked why Courtney decided to create the event “Ride Like A Girl to Save the Girls” she said “I have some family members that are breast cancer survivors and I wanted to use my love of snowmobile racing to raise money for a great cause.” Courtney has seen several other bikini rides and thought it would be fun to bring a similar event to East Jordan, and the Sno-Blast seemed like a great time to hold the event.

Bikinis and Snowmobiling Meet

Again this year, we took a road trip from Michigan to the Canadian province of Nova Scotia where snowmobiling leaders and enthusiasts gathered at the Westin Hotel in Halifax to confer on such issues as safety and training, laws and regulations, avalanche awareness, and maintaining access to trails on public and private lands. Taking part in this conference were a majority of the snow-belt states from across the United States, most of the Canadian provinces, and visitors from the Scandinavian country of Norway. Although both Sweden and Russia are members, neither of these countries were able to attend this year.

Getting there: The journey begins for my daughter and myself on Saturday, June 9th when we departed the Munising area for downstate and met up with our travel companion in the small community of Flushing, near Flint, Michigan. Due to the lateness of the day, we were invited out to dinner and then spend the night at his residence which we readily accepted so we could then get an early start to the long, two-day drive on Sunday morning.

After a brief stop at the Duty-Free Shop in Port Huron, we crossed the Blue Water bridge into Ontario, Canada, proceeded through Customs, and stopped at the currency exchange. Once completed, we began the long drive east toward Montreal where we had agreed should be our first overnight stop. Traffic was fairly light at this early hour and we settled into a routine with the cruise set at the 100 km/h mark on the speedometer. Other than the occasional rain squalls we encountered along the way, the drive was uneventful and we enjoyed some great conversations to pass the time. That is, until we neared Ottawa and the traffic doubled, then tripled, and soon we were experiencing periods of grid lock, especially in the construction zones.

International Snowmobile Congress 2018

As most of you frequent readers know, one of my favorite causes is the Special Olympics Michigan Winter Games and the group of snowmobilers that help raise the money for them. You know I am talking about the Wertz Warriors.

This past February, once again, I headed down to Acme to watch the Opening Ceremonies. And, once again, this was most definitely something I look forward to all year long. But for me, this was a personal milestone. This year marked the 20th year that I have been doing this.

Normally, I would just write about what happened. But, a couple of things: First, there was not a lot of snow last winter prior to the Opening Ceremony on Wednesday. Also the Warriors did a lot more trailering than riding. And, according to Wertz Warrior Chairperson Ken Mattei, “We went along the route and were happy with what we were doing. But, we still enjoy it a whole lot more when we can get out onto the trails and ride.” Next, the snow was so bad that they couldn’t even give the Athletes their ride. Normally, on the afternoon prior to the Opening Ceremony, the Warriors make their entrance onto the grounds of the Grand Traverse Resort in Acme. They then give the Athletes rides on their snowmobiles. Usually, it is really hard to decide who is having the most fun. This year…didn’t happen. But even with the bad weather, the Games did go on and the Athletes did have a whole lot of fun.

Wertz Warriors Ride Again

This past January the Caro Winter Fest (CWF) held their 9th annual event and sure put on a great show. The event kicked off Thursday night with a CWF Pub Crawl through Caro and was then followed by two days of wintertime fun and professional snowmobile racing at the Tuscola County Fairgrounds.

The main highlight of the event was the return of MIRA (Midwest International Racing Association) snowmobile racing. The group returned with a strong turnout of more than 15 teams, including four teams from Ontario, Canada, and a focus on getting back to the basics of racing.

MIRA was founded in 1979 as a volunteer nonprofit professional snowmobile racing association. From 2009 to 2015, MIRA and the CWF volunteers worked together to make the event what it had become. In 2016; Mike Higgins put together the No Bull Triple Crown racing circuit in place of the MIRA program; however, it fell short only lasting two years. Last year, MIRA stepped back in with new energy and an even stronger commitment to keeping enduro snowmobile racing alive in Michigan.

We can expect to see the same race classes as we did this past year, which included showcasing Sprint, Vintage Enduro, Stock Enduro, and 120’s on Saturday and then Sunday it was the “big dogs” in a 225-lap Pro-Enduro. Taking home the trophy for the 2018 Pro-Enduro was the #19 team of Tommie Bauer Racing on a Polaris driven by Tyler Nickels and Cody Bauer. They’re adding laps to the 2019 event to make it a 250-lap Pro Enduro.

In addition to racing, the CWF event also features a day-long Chainsaw Carving Competition on Saturday that brings carvers from all over the Midwest. The carvers do a “quick carve” early as a warm up to the main carving event. You can bid on their quick carve piece during the silent auction that takes place later in the day inside the Warming Tent.

Caro Winter Fest 2018

Update on Houghton/Hancock and the Keweenaw Trail Damage