The roar of snowmobile engines will once again fill the air at the oval track at the Gogebic County Fairgrounds in Ironwood, Michigan as U.S.S.A. racing returns January 5-6, 2008.
The â€œSnowmobile Olympusâ€ will once again have top billing as the first race of the season. Not only will high-tech racing machines roar around the track as part of the USSA racing circuit; with the addition of Pro Vintage Racing, sleds from the 1970s and ’80s will again line up to race.
“It’s another community event, and will be held in cooperation with events such as the Superior Sno-X, Copper Peak Hill Climb, and the Eagle River Snowmobile Derby,â€ stated race organizer Don Bertels, noting officials from Eagle River are in full support of bringing USSA oval racing back to the fairgrounds in Ironwood.
For years, the Snowmobile Olympus in Ironwood was slated as the season’s opener. USSA snowmobile racing pulled out of Ironwood in the early 1990s. Races were then held in Bessemer for a couple of seasons. By 1996, USSA racing on the Gogebic Range had come to an end.
USSA Executive Director Ted Otto, who was flagman at those races, said the USSA is excited about bringing the race back to Ironwood. Otto has been working with the USSA for nearly 40 years.
Otto stated, “We raced there for years and years and years. It was always the season’s opener in the early days. We always looked forward to going to Ironwood, and we are very happy that people are going to bring it back.”
Otto said the Gogebic Range lends itself to early racing. “It’s a good place to start our season and the people have always been supportive of snowmobile racing,” he said. “That makes it really good. The drivers will be very excited about coming back to the Ironwood area.”
Otto reminisced about some of the drivers, and said a Legends Race is possible. He said event organizers and the USSA would like to bring back some of the big names from the “heydays” of the Ironwood Olympus — including Jacques Villeneuve, Steve Ave, brothers Jeff and Greg Goodwin, and the Trapp brothers, etc.
He said they hope to “bring back the stars of yesterday. We hope to bring back everyone that was ever there, including drivers that raced in the junior classes.”
When USSA returns to the fairgrounds, some of the racers will have already raced in Ironwood. Some will be newcomers to the track, made up of the younger generation whose fathers raced in Ironwood, Otto said.
USSA families are very aware of Ironwood and the activities that took place at that track, Otto said. “The track was always very good.”
Charlie Goodwin, father of the Goodwin brothers, is excited about bringing USSA racing back to the fairgrounds. “It’s absolutely superb. It was always great racing in Ironwood.”
Goodwin said he isn’t sure if either Greg, now 51, or Jeff, 44, would mount their racing sleds again.
Community support for bringing USSA racing back to Ironwood has been excellent, Bertels said. “We will depend on a group of volunteers, as in past events, and sponsors of this first race of the season will also be a very big part of the event.”
Bertels said the fairgrounds is a beautiful facility. “The success of the Olympus will allow us to continue with improvements.”
Source: Ironwood Globe