CRANE LAKE- A temporary city on ice sprung up at Crane Lake last Saturday as 123 snowmobilers along with their teams, families, and fans invaded town for the Straight Line Speed Association’s …
CRANE LAKE- A temporary city on ice sprung up at Crane Lake last Saturday as 123 snowmobilers along with their teams, families, and fans invaded town for the Straight Line Speed Association’s Crane Lake Challenge.
Race director Kurt Mohawk said that the association looks forward to coming back to Crane Lake year after year for the event.
“This is our 24th year, if I remember correctly – I think the event started in 1987,” he said. “It’s a good community event and all the community seems to help. They really, really step up and make it easier on us guys to come in and enjoy ourselves.”
The race, which offered pro and non-pro divisions, drew participants from far and wide.
“We had people from Canada, and we had one gentleman drive all the way from Nebraska to race,” Mohawk said. “It’s pretty good that they trust you to drive that far for one of our races. We have people from Wisconsin and all over who follow our circuit. It’s good for the local businesses as well. Everybody’s got to do well to keep it going.”
Matt Anderson made the five-hour drive from Ellsworth, Wis. with a couple of trailers to carry his fleet of snowmobiles running in various classes. Anderson said he serves as the mechanic for others who pilot the sleds down the 4,000-ft course, including his young son Camden, who said the track conditions on a relatively warm afternoon weren’t quite ideal.
“It was kind of soggy,” Camden said.
But nonetheless, Camden was happy with the times he clocked, hitting his top speed of 68.1 mph in the last of four runs.
It was the third trip to the Crane Lake race for Anderson.
“It’s a beautiful town,” he said. “I like coming here.”
The first thousand feet of the race strip is the section where racers try to set their speed marks, while the remaining 3,000 feet give them a safe stretch to slow down. The most powerful racing sleds, like the Arctic Cat four-stroke Prostock that John Jacklitch Jr., of Brainerd, piloted to the day’s fastest speed of 179.78 mph, can use most of that at the end of their runs.
But the race isn’t just for the pros. It’s a family-oriented event with a wide range of classes to fit stock and non-stock snowmobiles, complete with divisions for kids with a need for speed.
“I try to get the kids involved because that’s the future of any type of sports racing,” Mohawk said. “A friend of ours works as a manager at Holiday station stores in the cities, and he sends us a bunch of gift cards for the kids. We let them run right with the others, we don’t set aside a certain time for them. They’re included in everything, and whenever they’re ready they go just like the other racers.”
And the race isn’t limited to just snowmobiles, either. A few motorcycles, some ATVs, and even a couple of cars took their turns at speed runs.
Mohawk said he had one more race to stage in Spicer this weekend to complete the season.
“I get off work Wednesday morning and then I’ll head down there and get that one ready to go,” he said. “It’s supposed to snow down there Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. It’s just crazy.”
And Mohawk is already planning to be back at Crane Lake next year.
“We’re doing it again, the first Saturday in March,” he said. “That’s kind of the tradition.”
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