bosssnowplows wb
Sleds roared with skies high and water churning as the races got underway.

The Fastest Show on H2O!

By Jim Duke

Actually, racing snowmobiles on water is not a new idea, it began more than three decades ago and became so popular almost overnight that the International Watercross Association (IWA) was formed to establish some guidelines for fair and safe competition for racing snowmobiles over open bodies of water. Watercross racing has been an active form of warm weather snowmobile competition with the first official event held way back in 1977. Today it is as popular as the grass drags events and both such events have their own dedicated fans and followers. 

The International Watercross Association (IWA) has been an active supporter and participant if International Snowmobile Racing (ISR) since it’s inception back in 1987. The ISR itself has been in existence for more than thirty years and, as a service organization, provides support to clubs and other organizations that engage in snowmobile racing events and activities of all sorts. ISR also works closely with the manufacturers for the latest in technical innovations and continues to provide access to the most comprehensive insurance packages available for the safety of both participants and organizers.

The event of interest this time was the 2nd Annual Jeff Moyle Memorial Watercross Races held at Lake Linden, Michigan over the weekend of July 30th – August 1st, 2021 with the racing action beginning at 6:00pm Friday evening for a couple of hours and resuming at 10:00am on Saturday and again on Sunday. The event location was at the Lake Linden Village Campground.

The Jeff Moyle Banner was prominently displayed at the entrance.
The Jeff Moyle Banner was prominently displayed at the entrance.

Friday evening’s activities included some warmup runs around the buoys and fun races by both locals and pros on the circuit and BJ Gariepy provided entertainment with his acoustical guitar. There was a pork dinner available from 5:00 until 7:30PM and plenty of socializing, since many of the fans had arrived a day or two earlier and were camping on-site. 

Saturday morning started off with some rain and windy conditions but that couldn’t dampen the spirits for those intent on making this event another huge success. Gates opened at 8:00AM and there was lots of breakfast items available at the food vendor’s trailer. As is usually the norm for U P weather, the rain had ended and sunshine prevailed before the race time. 

The local radio station, the Rockin’ Eagle at 98.7 FM kept everyone informed of the racing activities throughout the day, as well as interesting tidbits of information about local attractions and which racers were about to take to the water. Promptly at 10AM, The National Anthem was presented while a boat with the Flag flying in the wind slowly proceeded along the shoreline, then a bagpipe rendition of Amazing Grace was played, followed by TAPS in tribute to all who have passed.

Simpson leads Marietta, Jr. and Jesse Barrette across the finish line
Simpson leads Marietta, Jr. and Jesse Barrette across the finish line.  

This Watercross event is named in memory of Jeff A. Moyle,A lifelong resident and local businessman, who, at the age of just 30 years old, died in 2008 after being injured in a parasailing accident. He, like other members of the Moyle family, had been a member of IWA for years and had enjoyed “water-skipping” most of his life, and growing up on Torch Lake just across from the Village Campgrounds, which offered the perfect medium for he and his brothers to practice and perfect their watercross racing skills.

The event is hosted by the Lake Linden Fire Department which has two members that race, along with nine other individuals from the local area. According to one event official who remains anonymous said the fire department is always looking for ways to raise funds and one of the department volunteers who is also a watercross racer, thought it might be a good fundraiser. History has shown he was spot on with his suggestion.

The weekend was filled with continuous racing over a total of eighty-seven separate races. This particular event had a varied itinerary where riders could run straight-line, single lap drags or oval races of either three or four laps. There were multiple classes, including Pro Open & Pro Stock, Semi-Pro Open && Semi Pro Stock, and a Sports Open class. The two categories for drags were either 800 class or modified, and had a total of 27 runs. Each of the oval heats had either three race entries or just two with a bye, and some competitors raced in more than one class. There was a total of forty-four competitors signed up to run.  

Local rider Neil Marietta Jr. carries the coveted Checkered Flag following Friday evening’s events.
Local rider Neil Marietta Jr. carries the coveted Checkered Flag following Friday evening’s events.

The excitement kept building throughout the weekend as some of these machines had engines developing more than 200 horsepower and churned up the water at sixty to seventy miles per hour. Members of the Moyle family, including Jeff’s Mother, was on hand to witness the racing action. The racing action was completed about 5:00PM with the announcement that the Wing Nuts would be performing and providing music from 8:00PM until midnight, so bring a chair and enjoy the evening.

Sunday morning was pretty much a repeat of Saturday’s agenda with gates opening at 8:00AM and the same breakfast options available. Racing kicked off promptly at 10AM and finished up just after 5:00PM with the awards ceremony following. This was a great opportunity for folks to witness snowmobiles racing across the water and as the radio announcer said several times, this event is the “Fastest Show on H 2 0” and a huge thanks goes out to all who attended and supported the Lake Linden Volunteer Fire Department. Watch for flyers on dates of the 2022 International Watercross Association Races at Lake Linden, Michigan. •

Scroll to Top