Escanaba will has ice and is ready to slide into the first annual Midwest Ice Racing Association Ice Masters 500 February 24-25.
“We have ice,” said Steve Masters, Director for the Bays de Noc Convention and Visitors Bureau. The ice race had been scheduled to happen earlier in the season, but the warm spell that took over the Upper Peninsula made it hard to build a race track with the inches of ice needed.
The weather has finally cooperated, and the staff at the U.P. State Fair Grounds and volunteers from across Delta County have prepared the track for the race.
“We drilled a test hole on February 7th, and we have over 12 inches of ice on the 3/8 mile oval track,” added Masters.
Organizers for the event include The Bays de Noc Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Delta County Chamber of Commerce, the U.P. State Fair Grounds, and the Midwest Ice Racing Association.
“I am excited about the community collaboration for this event and the potential financial boost to our business community,” said Vickie Micheau, Director for the Delta County Chamber of Commerce. “I know when the racers arrive, our residents and the business community will roll out the red carpet and show the best our area has to offer,” she added.
Recent cancellations around the Midwest and Canada, due to the unseasonably warm weather, have put a damper on snowmobile racing season.
Steve McAlpine, one of the MIRA organizers, explained, “We just finished racing at the I-500 in Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, and there is a lot of buzz about the Escanaba Race. Due to race cancellations, racers are eager to be on the track. The U.P. State Fairgrounds is an outstanding venue to host a snowmobile race.”
The original race was a Masters 300, but has been changed to become a Masters 500. “The various Sprint and Enduro racers will race hard and put on a great show for the spectators. We think that in the future, the venue with its central location has the potential to become one of the largest races on the MIRA circuit and possibly the Midwest,” added McAlpine.
“I expect this race to become an annual winter event, similar to the I-500. Our community has proven to be an excellent host for sport events. We need to put on a great race, get the community in the stands, put heads in the beds of the motels, and get people into area businesses. When the event is over we will evaluate the overall event and the impact it had on the organizations and the community,” Masters concluded.
Gates open at 12 pm on Friday February, 24 and racing will continue under the lights until approximately 8:30 pm. On Saturday, February, 25 Gates will open at 8:30 am – 5:30 pm. Heated concessions with seating, restrooms, and adult beverages are located on-site across from the race track. Tickets are $10 per day or $15 for a weekend pass.
Visit www.deltami.org for more information.