OCEP to be Title Sponsor of Snowmobile Races

by Skip Schulz on December 22, 2014

The Ontonagon County Economic Partnership will once again be the Title  Sponsor of the Upper Peninsula Championship Snowmobile Drag Races. The races will take place on Saturday, January 10th. The popular races will take place behind Skip and Sandy Schulz’s Home on 610 Greenland Road. The races will take place on the undeveloped portion of James K Paul Street, next to Ontonagon REA.

The side-by-side snowmobile drag races started at this location close to 10 years ago, and with new leadership of the North Country Snowmobile  Club, the races returned to the Village of Ontonagon last winter. Once again this year the North Country Snowmobile Club will be providing the preparation of the race track. Bob Burrows of the North Country Snowmobile Club will also keep the track groomed during the event.

Last year the event drew the top snowmobile drag racers that race professionally on snow. The racers came from throughout the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. The track has three lanes, with the snowmobiles racing side-by-side for 500 feet. The machines hit speeds close to 100 MPH.

It was at last year’s UP Championship Snow Drags that was the debut race for Ontonagon’s Adam Hawkins and Travis Houtari. Hawkins went on to win the Points Championship in his class in the Ojibwa Casino MASTERS Racing Circuit Series. Houtari was one of the top racers in his class.

The event is sanctioned by the Mid America Snow and Terrain Expert Racers,  commonly known as the MASTERS Racing Circuit.  The MASTERS is one of the  longest running Snowmobile Race Circuits in the Midwest. Skip and Sandy Schulz of the MASTERS started to run snowmobile events in the Upper Peninsula in 1991, and officially organized the MASTERS in 1995. The MASTERS runs Snowmobile Hillclimbs, Hillcross, and Snow Drags throughout the Midwest. This year, the MASTERS has 12 race events scheduled, with the OCEP UP Championship Snow Drags being the first race of the season.

“When you organize and run as many snowmobile races as the MASTERS has  done and will do once again this winter, we see what the races does for a community. The races brings racers and race teams to a community. When  they are here, they spend money,” commented MASTERS President, Skip Schulz.

The MASTERS hopes that with local sponsorship, the purse for this year’s OCEP UP Championship Snow Drags will be over $3000. The feature class in  the MASTERS Ojibwa Casino Snow Drag Series is TOP GUN. 2 of the last 3 TOP GUN Point Champions are former Ontonagon residents. Jeff Szanto was
the TOP GUN point champion in 2012, Chris Nordang was the TOP GUN Champion  in 2013. Chris Nordang go is the son of Tom and Lynda Nordang of Ontonagon.

The MASTERS has heard that Tom Nordang may make a return to Snowmobile  Racing at the OCEP UP Championship Snow Drags, racing one of Goldbach Race Team sleds.

“The driver that fans are going to want to see is Jerry Buschell of Calumet. Buschell has not been defeated in close to 100 races in the Pro Mod 700 Class. Jerry (Buschell) is considered to have the fastest 700cc snowmobile in the entire Midwest, if not in the entire US. His Ski-Doo is so fast that he enters it and many times advances to the finals of the Pro Mod 800 class,” commented Schulz.

It was at the last meeting of both the Ontonagon County Economic Partnership and the North Country Snowmobile Club that both organizations gave their unanimous support of the races. The Village of Ontonagon Village Council also unanimously supported the event.

“When you travel to other communities throughout the winter to put on an  event, from organizing the event, to running the event, it is great to be able to bring the racers to our community, and this would not be possible without the support of our village and area. Support we’re going to be  looking for in the next few weeks,” concluded Schulz.

The MASTERS is looking for a non-profit organization in the community to use the event as a fund-raiser by running a concession stand. If your organization would be interested in having the concession stand, you’re asked to contact Skip or Sandy Schulz, at 906-884-9101.

For more information on this year’s OCEP UP Championship Snow Drags, or you can go to the MASTERS Facebook page, Masters Racing Circuit.

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