Behind the Scenes at the I-500, part 2

By Ric Federau Contributing Writer

There’s so much to know about the SOO I-500, so many questions and the desire to learn more about the interesting facts which makes this world class event the GrandDaddy of all snowmobile races.

It’s the objective of this article to share more interesting facts and information which we hope tweeks your interest enough to create excitement so you’ll join us in person at each race.

Let’s take a lap around the track within this article so YOU can learn more about the GrandDaddy of all snowmobile races and all the SOO I-500 race week has to offer leading UP to the main event.

Bill Cryderman

OFFICIATING CREW

Our first pit stop is going to be introducing information about the I-500 race committee officiating crew, who makes up the officiating crew, where they’re from and how many there are. These are questions asked every year that generate a lot of interest from fans and spectators alike. The SOO I-500 officials are all volunteers and make up the officiating crew titled “ I-500 race committee”. The I-500 race committee and race director is capital Bill Cryderman, who has had years of experience as race director and has put together one of the world’s best officiating crews. The I-500 co-race director is Scott Lacousiere who himself has decades of race experience in the officiating capacity. Scott was raised as a child around the race venue. His family’s involvement has been since the start of the very first race. His father is one of our I-500 race control directors who oversee all racetrack involvement during the week long series of racing leading up to the main event. In addition to the race director and codirector, additional officials include tech directors Jamie Vincent and Gina Fox. The I-500 race committee was formed in 2008 as a total volunteer organization. Our race officials are unparalleled within the Oval ice racing community. The race committee officials who were on the track at all times consist of 53 officials on the track at one time with a total of 75 officials who worked the race on main event race day. Being an international event it’s important to recognize our Canadian families to the north who provide this event with 30 volunteer officials each year. The remaining official base come from throughout Michigan and the Midwest. The I-500 provides all race participants with race officiating that is world class and second to none. reminding you once again as a reader every aspect of this event is supported by a total volunteer program. This fact alone makes the I-500 unique inasmuch as there isn’t another professional race of any type anywhere in the world that is totally volunteer supported. Decades upon decades for over 53 consecutive years families, commercial businesses locally and individuals throughout the community has made this event the world’s most prestigious snowmobile event bar none. We hope through this little article that we’ve enlightened you with some knowledge that we hope has answered some questions about officiating at this event. It’s the primary objective of the race committee to provide all participants with the safest conditions possible with all participants in mind. We take pride in providing our participants with the best officiating crew in the world.

DRIVERS AND TEAMS

Our second pit stop is where we’d like to share some information about the drivers and teams who race here at the I-500. Teams who race here come from throughout the Midwest and Canada and as far north as Alaska. We have factory sponsored teams and we have locally sponsored teams. Each team consists of 12 team members and two drivers. However in some cases race teams will use as many as three drivers. Teams who race here spend thousands of dollars preparing to attend this one single event. Many times people ask us how they can get involved because everybody wants to ride on the famous mile Oval track.Fact is, all race drivers must have a seasoned resume in order to race at this venue. Many drivers have claimed our track is a monster, that’s a true fact. Hi banks and long fast straightaways make this track a favorite amongst racers throughout the United States and Canada. It’s a favored venue by the manufacturers of snowmobiles as well. The fact that the I-500 is the only mile Oval ice track in North America is vital to the manufacturers of snowmobiles. The fact that all other tracks are a lot smaller doesn’t allow the manufacturers of snowmobiles to be able to get their snowmobiles up to speeds whereby they can test their products. Keep in mind all teams must comply with race officials guidelines. This track allows snowmobiles to get up to fast speeds whereby manufacturers observe how their products are functioning.

Another interesting fact is that each snowmobile driver has their own secret message on their snowmobile steering column to remind them they’re racing to win!  One message reads, “go fast and don’t fall off” another message is “ lean left like you mean it” and  “ drive harder and win “ for a few examples.  Each driver having that little extra reminder to win the Grand-Daddy of them all. The I-500 is the ONE all drivers want to win.

THE VIEW

Third pit stop has you learning more about watching this outstanding race from inside a warm, comfortable setting.  Did you know the I-500 sells individual hot-seats and beautiful sky-boxes which offer the view of a lifetime at the I-500 track.

Individual seats are sold each race which the purchaser has for the whole week long series of events and the main event as well.  Each seat is provided with all beverages except hard liquor and food for the whole day and week. Each hot-seat has its own bar-tender and race stat computer. Simply put, buy a seat and you own it for the whole week, beverages and food included.  Seats are in the infield V.I.P. booth which sets high above the track providing a 360 degree view of the whole track and pit area. The hot seats are set within a knotty-pine booth which offers the true feel of up north hospitality and the food is outstanding. The whole hot-seat experience supports the true Pure-Michigan agenda.  Welcome to God’s country!

Hot seats go on sale Tuesday of race week commencing at 6pm. Learn more about securing hot-seats by visiting our website at: www.i-500.com  Our I-500 V.I.P sky-boxes hosts ten people and are high above the venue for a panaramic view of the track and all the high octane excitement.  Each booth receives all beverages and food for the whole week of events.  Each sky-box is state of the art and comfort is second to none.  Learn more about purchasing a V.I.P. sky-box by visiting our web site at: www.i-500.com

Amanda Kemp

MISS I-500

Our final pit stop is at the Miss I-500 Pageant program hosted at Kewadin Casino Resort within their “Dream Makers” concert facility. Attending the I-500 and week-long series of events you won’t want to miss this pageant hosted Friday evening annually the night before the main I-500 race. The pageant features a Vegas type show which is a real crowd pleasing event. There’s NO charge for admission and the show is fantastic.  Amanda Kemp is the I-500 Pageant and she is current Lifetime queen of the Miss Global United  Pageant program. Amanda’s agenda for pageant participants  is to show the public that beauty is only skin deep. Amanda’s objective is to bring out the best in each contestant from within. There’s more to beauty than one’s outside appearance alone.  This pageant program is entering into its eleventh consecutive years and has helped young women develop into productive ladies moving into the future. The pageant provides the community in general with help in various ways. Donating funds to underprivileged children’s needs and helping organizations within the community such as hospice and cancer victims to name a few. Each year, the I-500 pageant has contestants collecting stuffed animals for needy children and victims of illness. The Miss I-500 pageant has different age group participants and the general public is encouraged to have their daughters participate.  YOU can find more information about the Miss I-500 pageant on our I-500 web site at: www.i-500.com  Pageant participants range for Junior Miss I-500 contestants to teens and young adults.  We can assure you this….. the Miss I-500 Pageant show is one you’ll want to see . The acts are great and there’s something for everyone of all ages to enjoy. I’ll end with a quote from one of the race drivers. “I’m not a pageant kind of guy, but I went to the pageant just to check it out and…. Wow!  It’s so cool. The acts ARE like a Vegas show and it’s something I’m coming to every year we’re racing here… it’s really cool”.

Let’s head down the front stretch and take it in for fuel…… From here it’s ALL LEFT TURNS until the next edition is on the streets. •

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