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I-500,Brian Caswell

Behind the Scenes at the I-500

Well folks it’s time to share more high – octane information about the international 500 snowmobile race. The objective here is to capture your attention in the first 16 seconds of this informative article. We’re going to cover various aspects of the I-500 and share some details about certain facts you’ll find interesting.  Areas of interest for which we’ll be covering include but are not limited to promotion of the I-500 introducing some of our key volunteers that bring the event to life.  We’ll cover the week-long series of events to give you inside scheduling for the week at the famous I-500 mile oval and we’ll also share information about race officials and more.

So grab yourself a snack, beverage of choice and get comfortable so you can enjoy the next few minutes reading and learning about aspects of the world’s most prestigious snowmobile endurance race. Let me start by sharing some facts about the growth in recognition of the sport of Oval ice racing and in particular racing at the I-500. Within the last 10 years this sport has grown in recognition as much as any other professional race worldwide.

Media coverage obviously plays a very important part in this growth process. The I-500 has experienced positive growth and has attracted the attention of major media networks such as Speed-Vision, NASH Networks, TRU-TV most shocking, The National Weather Channel Network, FLOSPORTS among others.  Live stream coverage has become premier for the viewing public at the local, regional and national levels.  Everyone knows that pictures speak a thousand words.

Photographs and video are vital to the promotion of every professional sport. The SOO I-500 has been blessed with some of the best photographers in the professional sports world. Just imagine how important photographs are.  They’re photo productions are used for marketing, advertising, sponsorship performance reviews, T.V., trade show promotion, social media coverage and the I-500 history archives. Each category and every photo has a story to observe. When hosting the world’s most prestigious professional snowmobile race the objective is to give I-500 enthusiasts as much detail as possible.  it’s paramount to present a picture that will give YOU a feeling of excitement as though you are right there at that moment, we When hosting a professional event, you want the best in the business covering every aspect of the event.

Another important point of interest is the I-500 is an” International “ event and having our neighbors to the north joining us as partners is extremely important and we’re proud to have our Canadian partners in the I-500 family.   All this being noted, let us introduce you to some of our key professional family members who take promotion of the I-500 to extreme high levels of professionalism.

I-500,Brian Caswell
From Monday through the main event, daily activities are being hosted at the I-500 venue and YOU can experience each daily event with a single entry button that allows you access to daily events at the famous mile oval track.

Official professional photographers of the International 500 are:

Brian Caswell of SpeedShot photography.  Brian is a seasoned veteran professional photographer.  Brian is a former snowmobile racer. He started racing in 2008 racing sleds in the BEURA series racing two seasons while practicing his hobby of photography as well. Having a love for racing, Brian was determined to shoot photographs of various racing events.  Obviously, his love of snowmobile racing took him on a venture that grew very quickly as he became very good at his photography work. He contacted Eagle River Derby track in 2016 and asked permission to volunteer taking photos of race teams in action. Eagle River Mgt. reviewed his work and immediately approached Brian offering him the title of “Official Photographer”.  His work was excellent and his professional quality production became known throughout the racing arena. In 2018 the I-500 contacted Brian inviting him to visit the I-500 and consider becoming a photographer for the event.  After his first visit, the conversations took place to recruit Brian to shoot photos of the SOO I-500.  Brian’s resume since 2016 has put him in the who’s, who category for shooting professional racing of many types. His resume includes shooting for professional “Off-shore boat racing”, Auto racing, snowmobiling among other professional sports. In 2018 the SOO I-500 approached Brian and asked him to visit our event.  He fell in love with the I-500 and now is one of our “Official” I-500 photographers.

Patti Wierzbicki of J&J Productions (S.S.M. Canada) Patti is a seasoned veteran of racing photography. She has photographed drivers and teams racing at the I-500 for over 10 consecutive years. Her photography work is excellent and she has developed a reputation for her quality action shots.  Patti is one of our close Canadian partners. Residing in Canada within the area of our sister city of Sault Ste. Marie.  Patti volunteers her time and talent every year and her ability to capture action shots is outstanding.  We’re proud to involve the Canadian blend of professionalism that Patti brings to our event.

Paul (Bubba) Boucher of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan is another valued member of our I-500 photography team. Paul is a former I-500 Board member and life-long volunteer.  As a hobby, Paul indulges in photography and has been shooting photographs every year of daily happenings during race week. Paul is dedicated to helping promote the I-500 project and helps to build a solid archive of photos produced over the decades. Paul also shoots photos of every event hosted during race week. Throughout everyday during race week Paul is at the track helping to promote the event by taking photos of sponsorship banners, V.I.P participation, crowd photos, kids race and more.  As a long time citizen, volunteer and dedicated partner supporting the I-500, we are thankful for all his time and contributions.

Another aspect of the race I’d like to share with you is track announcing during race week every year.  Track announcing is extremely important and we are fortunate to have one of the best professional racetrack announcers in the business. Track announcing is paramount and extremely important to the promotion of the event.  Fans, teams, listening and viewing public depend on accurate announcing they can depend on.  The track announcer is the main voice of the event broadcasting that is informative, accurate, exciting and immediate.  The SOO I-500 has the best of the best in the announcing program for the event.

Matt Prieur of Columbus, Ohio is the “official voice” of the SOO I-500. His resume includes announcing for NASCAR in various venues such as Daytona, Bristol, Indianapolis motor speedway, Charlotte and yes… the famous I-500 mile. 33 years of professional track announcing. Matt is a broadcast team member for the NASCAR Cup Series.  Matt became the official announcer of the SOO I-500 in 2016.  He has seven years of I-500 broadcasting and will do play by play announcing for FLOSPORTS “LIVE” coverage of the 2023 running.  Matt has developed a high profile team of I-500 track announcing associates.  In the main booth, he has a Canadian associate (Spanky Robison) from S.S.M. Canada who helps with color commentating.

The I-500 pit reporters that Matt has on his team will bring the listening and viewing public inside interviews from teams and these reporters are the best in the business.  Pit reporters for the I-500 are former race drivers. Isaac Wolfgang of Wolfgang Motor Sports is a seasoned track racer having raced the SOO I-500 for a number of years.  The other pit row reporter is former I-500 racer and champion John Wicht lll who has won the SOO I-500 multiple times as a “single” driver.  The combined experience of these two professional drivers enhances the broadcast production of the SOO I-500 and gives listeners and viewers an inside feel for high octane energy.

As you can see, the week-long schedule of events for 2023 is exciting and has something for everyone who’s a winter sports enthusiast. From Monday through the main event, daily activities are being hosted at the I-500 venue and YOU can experience each daily event with a single entry button that allows you access to daily events at the famous mile oval track.

I-500,Brian Caswell

The topic of 2 million dollars in State Grant funding is exciting. 

Although there seems to be some misunderstanding that we’d like to clear UP.  Yes…. The State of Michigan has awarded 2 million dollars to the I-500 facility (Venue).

The grant was applied for by city officials and members of the SOO convention and visitors bureau.  The purpose of issuing this funding is to enhance the venue known as the “ I-500 Track”. Interesting enough, that title is bestowed upon the grounds that host the I-500 race. The thought process behind filing for the State issued grant is to make the venue a year- round usable facility.  In other words, the use of the I-500 track facility will become more diverse and not used just for a one week event. The city of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan owns the property that hosts the I-500 race week each year.

The I-500 Project, Inc. actually leases the property from the city to host the week-long series of events. Hence, the I-500 project is a tenant like someone who’s renting an apartment. Therefore, the grant funds issued are to be utilized to enhance improvements and betterments to the property in order to make the property usable for year – round activities such as concerts and outdoor events that will draw people to the community for various shows and other activities. All grant funds will be used to improve much needed repairs and additions to the venue.  Items such as a new entry road, new fencing, additional venue buildings, bridge over the track infield entrance and overall items that need to be addressed so the property can be utilized for more than one week’s event. We’ve been contacted by a lot of I-500 followers who inquired about additional “Hot-Seats”, indoor bathrooms, etc.  This isn’t the call of the I-500 Project, Inc. management team. The property is titled as a “Special Events Park” by the city officials.  The issuing of grant funds and the improvements to be made will benefit the I-500 Project as well.  Simply put, the grant funds were NOT issued directly to the I-500 Project event. Now you know the rest of the story. The misconception is…. the grant money isn’t issued to the I-500 race project.  It’s a city grant to improve the venue for year-round use.

WANT TO BECOME A SPONSOR OF THE SOO I-500 EVENT? 

Enjoy a captured audience of thousands to promote your business and products offered. This is a golden opportunity to join other nationally recognized sponsors such as Meijer, Sunoco Fuel, Peterbuilt, DTE, Choko Design to name a few.  Reach thousands of winter sports enthusiasts internationally and become a part of the professional sport of oval ice endurance racing second to none world wide.

Visit our web site at: www.i-500.com and click on the sponsorship link to become a valued member of sponsors who support this world class sport and event known as the Grand-Daddy of all snowmobile races bar none. The I-500 Project, Inc. offers a sponsorship package that fits most sponsorship budgets.  Join us and enjoy the benefits of I-500 promotion potential with printed promotional materials, social media coverage and potential to be recognized through T.V., radio and LIVE coverage of the week-long series of events.             

Let’s take a final lap around the track together as we share some facts about the I-500 people may want to know about.  Questions we usually get asked.

• Each race team has UP to 14 team members in the pits at all times during race week.

• The average speed set during qualifying is between 100 and 120mph.

• Most pit stops avg. about 30 seconds

• Race teams usually have two drivers per team.  Some have three.

• Racer John Wicht lll  was the last driver to win the 500 mile race without a backup driver.  He did this multiple times. No one has done it since.

• The famous mile oval is plowed during main event race day, every 100 laps to clear up the ice dust on the track caused by the sled studs.  Making it a SAFE track for all drivers

• Some race teams feature more than one sled in the main event.

• The sled brand that has won the race the most over 54 years is Polaris.

• Arctic-Cat had been the only major OEM to never win the race until the 47 hosting of the I-500. (Winning driver was Troy DeWald)

• Troy DeWald is the only driver to win back-to-back I-500’s on two different brands of snowmobiles. (Ski-doo & Artic-Cat)

• Nine directors make UP the managing team of I-500 Board of Directors.

••  Until the next publication of Snowmobile + ORV is produced. ( Nov. issue) We encourage and remind you of the importance to plan ahead when coming UP to the SOO for race week and the main I-500 event.  Lodging is a critical consideration for everyone embarking on the SOO for the I-500 event.   

Time to make a pit stop until the next issue of Snowmobile + ORV is produced for your reading enjoyment.  Please join us again as we inform you of various aspects of this outstanding event.

Until then it’s……

 “ ALL LEFT TURNS FROM HERE…” 

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