By Ric Federau, Contributing Writer
Hey!!!… Are you ready? I mean. this is it. This is the time where we enter into our pre race mode of excitement and most of all. Unparalleled anticipation. It’s like. Going to a major concert or sporting event and you’ve been standing in line for hours knowing that you’re gonna get inside and you’re gonna witness the spectacle that you’ve wanted to see for weeks on end. In a matter of a few short days. We’re all gonna be embarking on the greatest snowmobile spectacle associated with Oval ice racing and we’ll be where others only wish they could be. Does it get any better than the SOO I-500? At this point we’ve published a lot of articles over the past few months about the SOO I-500. We’ve tried to cover many things to keep you informed about the event. Some of the history. Some of what’s going on today in the world of Oval ice racing at the I500. And just a general synopsis of everything that it entails for your planning when considering what lies ahead for your enjoyment and excitement. We wanna give you the experience that you’ll carry and remember for years to come. We want this event to bring you back each year so we can share our passion and you’ll share imaging. with others. So, read on and throughout your time reading this article, it’s time for YOU to do some imaging yourself. It’s a natural thing to do. When you’re about to experience something exciting., you really want to do it and you really look forward to it. It’s the driving force that builds each and every individual’s personal track to anticipation. How does imaging relate to the SOO I-500? It affects everybody whether you’ve been here once, twice, 30 times, Or if you’ve never been here at all. It allows y’all to manifest what the whole week of excitement is going to be like. If you’re a snowmobiler or even a winter sports enthusiast, at some point. You’ll learn about the SOO I-500. and all it has to offer. We’re hoping it will become one of the primary objectives for your future bucket list. Let your imagination run wild, right? Let me preempt the 54th running of the SOO I-500 by simply stating this…. “No matter what your imagination lets you manifest about attending the SOO I-500. We can assure you, you’re gonna get way…… more than what you imagined.
At this point, let’s keep the article rolling. It’s time to get on a fast track to excitement and what we’re about to embark on in the few short days ahead. If you read some of the past publications over the past few months, we hope that you took our advice seriously. Hopefully you’ve made plans for attending the 2023 I-500 race week. We’ve tried to express all the I-500 has to offer. It’s a vacation destination for the whole family. All of us are at a time in our lives when the cost of living., fluctuating price of fuel, the expenses of food and lodging determines where you can go and get the most for your money and investment.
The SOO I-500 is a perfect resolve for your quest to spend time doing something unique, fun and worth every cent spent. It’s why we can’t stop speaking about how YOU can have it all in one setting for the whole family, You’re able to snowmobile from most hotels on some of Michigan’s most outstanding trails and return to your hotel for an evening of fun every single day of your vacation. You and thousands like you will come together for a week of fun and thrills and can be a part of the SOO I-500 experience and series of events hosted all week long leading UP to the main I-500 race.
You want high octane fun?……. When you witness these professional race teams on the track in a “pack” only split seconds apart and flying at speeds in excess of 100mph, you’ll be blown away. When you see the thousands of spectators lining the track sides it will make you feel you’re truly a part of something special and unlike anything else in the world. And YOU are a part of it all. We urge you to review some of our past articles about this outstanding event and all it is. We hope our insight and sharing of knowledge about this historical race has been entertaining and educational as well.
The SOO I-500 gets a five star rating by those who have been here time after time or for the first time ever. Some of the responses we get when asking people “ So what did you think of the I-500?” their responses are spot on. Here are a few of the responses we’ve received…..
“ Holy Crap! those things are fast”….” I never had any idea how cool this is until coming here now”….” OMG, thousands of people, it’s so cool”… “There’s so much to do and it’s all so much fun”….” This place is awesome and the race is so huge”….. “ Never knew how big this track is, it’s bleep’n awesome”…
“ Man, it’s so much fun here…”, “ This race is brutal, these guys are tough! “….. “ We’ll be back, the race is amazing and the track color is beautiful”…. “Seriously? We thought the race was on snow. The ice is so cool”…..
And the number one response goes to…… A couple dudes from Ohio who said … “ The people here are so friendly. .. the race is great and the party is even better”.
Something to be said about the community that pulls together when hosting this magnificent event. It’s the integrity of the people from Sault Ste. Marie and surrounding communities that need to be recognized. Their family history for volunteerism and commitment to the community and events are priceless.
The same goes for our partners from the north across the river in the sister city of Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. Snowmobiling is a way of life in these areas. Building the SOO I-500 seems natural for the surroundings and environment. These people want to share their passion and hospitality with others knowing it will bring people together as it has within their own lives. Little did a handful of guys setting in a local restaurant have any Clue as to how their imaginations would influence so many winter sports enthusiasts. They had no clue and only imagined that maybe someday. their own I-500 mile race would gain national exposure. Thus becoming known as the “granddaddy” of oval ice racing worldwide. These few men had no idea how much their imaginations would affect the winter sports recreation world. They proved to be snowmobile racing pioneers with a vision that only a few people Could wrap their minds around. For these guys, it all started with a passion for fun and a thrill they shared for riding snowmobiles. Collectively, their imaginations and dream became a reality. They found support from family, friends and commercial businesses who understood snowmobiling as a way of life and before long…. it became a community event which now has become the largest single event hosted in the Eastern U.P. region and the oldest, longest, fastest and toughest snowmobile endurance race on earth. Today in 2023, it is recognized as a world class professional race no less important than NASCAR or any other professional race. It’s gone from being a backyard event to being streamed worldwide on major networks. It’s a mainstay in racing history in a class of its own that runs parallel to other professional races and is a total volunteer project. The ONLY professional race hosted by volunteers.
Yeah…. don’t tell me the SOO I-500 isn’t something special…. There’s nothing like it anywhere. I’d like to take a moment to share the bright side of one volunteer’s I-500 experience and how he got here. This man is a legend within the snowmobile racing arena. He’s known for his racing ability and good will he spreads throughout the industry. He is also our own SOO I-500 race flagman. He sets high above the I-500 track in the flag tower along the front straightaway. His name is Roger Britt. He has been oval ice racing since 1971 and has numerous championship winnings to support his career in racing. His first race at the SOO was in… 1971. His last race was in 2012 where he won the senior classic hosted at the SOO and Eagle River Track in Wisconsin. He has flagged the SOO I-500 for 20 consecutive years. His commitment to the sport and ability to be a spokesperson for the sport in general is well respected.
His home town is AuGres, Michigan. His whole family has been involved in racing for decades. Even his father who raced with only one hand. Roger is retiring from his duties as our flagman. I wanted to share this because it shows that no matter where you’re from, if you want to become a part of the I-500 family of volunteers, simply get on our web site and let us know. It also is a statement supporting the family history behind the sport in general. So many people involved in snowmobile racing have a family history that has brought them full circle and to the I-500. Being from the SOO or not, volunteering on an individual basis or from a community standpoint, the support is there at the SOO and it’s something the whole community and State of Michigan can be proud of.
It’s amazing how one community has pulled together over 54 consecutive years on a total voluntary basis thus building a world class event that represents their way of life for fun and excitement. The commitment to the community as individuals says a ton about the integrity of citizens and the commercial sector U.P. people. These are people who had imagination and a passion to share and it obviously continues to this very next race. Take no one and nothing for granted. These people are special and their hospitality is second to none.
Where do we stand at this point? How are things shaping UP? Will there be enough ice to run the I-500? These and many more questions are coming to mind. Here’s where we are at and where we’ll be going soon.
By the time you read this, our track building crews are deep into building the best track possible for SAFETY and racing. We’ve been packing the ground with our recently acquired snowpacker. Packing beats the frost into the ground and once we’re done with that, We’ll commence putting water down to build the ice-track. Our opening ceremonies are in the final planning stages and we’re sure you’ll enjoy the whole program from opening day (*aka: Bud Clarke day) until the end of the drivers award ceremony Saturday night after the main event is completed.
We urge you to visit our web site at www.i-500 and view the daily series of events and races hosted throughout race week leading UP to the main I-500 race. (Always hosted the first Saturday in Feb. each year) You’re also welcome to join the awards ceremony after the race at Kewadin Casino. There’s no charge and it’s another spectacle you’ll enjoy.
A man from another country who visits the race each year can be heard saying…. “ This is it folks!!!” It’s winter time….. no boating now….. let’s get ready for the SOO I-500”. Let the excitement begin ! Between the time you are reading this and the beginning of race week 2023 at the SOO I-500,
We’ll all be waiting for your arrival. We’re extremely excited to have YOU and your friends join us for what we feel is the most exciting snowmobile event ever! This event has so much to offer and the community is waiting with open arms to offer you U.P. hospitality that you’ll remember and enjoy.
We’ve built a project that gives YOU the opportunity to enjoy high octane racing, family fun for the whole week and memories that we hope will bring you back year after year. We hope you’ll think about the I-500 year round and make it a happening you look forward to annually.
If you’re wanting to have fun and enjoy a lot of activities for yourself and family, make the SOO I-500 your destination for winter excitement. We hope you’ll join us and thousands of others for the 2023 running of the SOO I-500. But don’t stop there….. make it your annual snowmobile vacation.
That being said…. It’s time to imagine the sounds and sights of the I-500. The smell of racing fuel and the hype of fast action on the only mile oval ice track in North America. Thank YOU ALL for following our path to the Feb 2023 I-500 race week. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading and learning more about the SOO I-500, the happenings behind the scenes and the passion of U.P. folks that make this event possible. These are special people who host a special event. Ready for high octane entertainment? Ready for excitement and the anticipation of a week-long series of snowmobile fun? Then on behalf of the SOO I-500 Board of directors, the Hundreds of volunteers who make this event possible (Past and present) Thanks for joining us on our journey leading UP to this 54th. race. It really is…… “ All left turns from here…”
May YOU ALL enjoy a safe journey to the immediate Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. area for race week 2023. On behalf of the SOO I-500 Board of Directors, Thank you in advance for supporting the SOO I-500 and sport of Oval ice endurance racing.
“ All left turns from here…”