The MASTERS – Ojibwa Casino Motorcycle Hillclimb at Whealkate Bluff in South Range will expand this 4th of July weekend to include snowmobiles and side-by-side off-road vehicles. The second annual event will take place on Saturday, July 6.

The MASTERS, which stands for Mid America Snow and Terrain Expert Racers, with the help of Triest Forest Products, brought the motorcycle hillclimb back to life last year. The event was a popular attraction in the 1970s. With numerous changes in property ownership and extensive erosion on the hill, it wasn’t until last year that a sanctioned motorcycle hillclimb took place.

Officials from the MASTERS first ran a snowmobile hillclimb in 1991 as a cooperative event with the Range Snowmobile Club. Then in the latter 1990s, the MASTERS began sanctioning professional snowmobile hillclimbs.

“Close to 20 years ago we became the Midwestern States’ representative to qualify snowmobilers to compete at the World Championship Hillclimb in Jackson, Wyoming,” explained Jason Kleinschmidt, MASTERS Director of Race Operations. This past winter, James Marietta of Hubbell, Roger Strack of Painesdale, and Tyler Robinson of the Pat’s Motorsports Team of Greenland competed at the World Championship. Robinson qualified for the finals in two classes.

It was one of the circuit’s top snowmobile hillclimbers, Mike Fraki of Atlantic Mine, who suggested having snowmobiles run straight up the hill at the Motorcycle Hillclimb.

“At first we didn’t think a snowmobiler would want to do this, but after putting out a ‘feeler’ on social media, we were pleasantly surprised,” stated Kleinschmidt.

Planning on competing in the snowmobile hillclimb includes some of the circuit’s top professional snowmobile hillclimbers. This includes Fraki, Travis Kaurala of Pelkie, and Jordan Wolfe, an MTU Mechanical Engineering student.

According to the MASTERS, that opened the doors to possibly expanding into off-road vehicles, such as the increasing numbers of side-by-sides (SXS).

“When the landowner, Triest Forest Products, also asked about the SXS, we inquired with a dealer and SXS riders. To be upfront with everyone, we really don’t know at this time what interest in that class we’re going to have,” commented Kleinschmidt.

Mike Chopp at Whealkate in 2018

The MASTERS is going to have strict safety measures for those who want to run an SXS up the hill. This includes a solid welded roll cage, along with a 5-point harness. These ORVs compete in races such as the one in Crandon, Wisconsin.

“Whether we will get any of these to compete at this time we simply do not know. However, we do know that we’re going to have some good competition in the Snowmobile class,” said Kleinschmidt.

There will also be changes for the motorcycles climbing the steep bluff. This includes a couple of gates for the motorcycles to go around and a small jump at the base of the hill. This past winter the snowmobiles had to go around five gates and a steep “wall” at the top of the hill for both the Triest Forest Products-Vollwerth’s Mid America Championship Hillclimb and the Ojibwa Casino WINTERNATIONALS Hillclimbs.

The event will continue to have a class where two motorcycles will race side by side straight up the hill, along with having the 10 fastest racers advance to the King of the Hill “shoot-out.” The three fastest snowmobilers will advance to the “King of the Dirt” shoot-out at the end of the day.

Racers in motorcycle classes will range from the children running the small bikes all the way up to a class for the heavily modified motorcycles with extended suspension.

Triest Forest Products invested thousands of dollars into construction work on the hill, the fan and racer parking, along with the entrance and exit roads to the event. The Spalding-based company will once again be working on the hill and the property for the July 6 event.

“This event draws racers and fans from all over to South Range, Houghton, and Hancock. It is a great boost to the area’s tourism economy and supports the established South Range 4th of July weekend festivities,” concluded Kleinschmidt. “Expanding into snowmobiles and possibly SXS will draw even more racers and fans.”

The expansion of the Ojibwa Casino Motorcycle Hillclimb coincides with this summer’s expansion at the Baraga Ojibwa Casino and the construction of the new casino and resort in Marquette.

For more information, see other pages on this web site, their Facebook page, or call 906-884-9101.

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The second annual MASTERS Ojibwa Casino Motorcycle Hillclimb returns to Whealkate Bluff in South Range, Michigan, on Saturday, July 6. For many years during the 1970’s and 1980’s, this steep hill hosted a motorcycle hillclimb on the 4th of July weekend.

After Treist Forest Products invested thousands of dollars in construction work on the hill, roads in and out of the site, and expanded fan and pit parking, the event makes a return this summer.

This year’s hillclimb will include a class for snowmobiles to run straight up the hill. The 3 fastest snowmobilers will qualify for the “King of the Dirt” run and the winner of that pocketing $150.00! 

“Since we have the Sno-Bikes run at our snowmobile hillclimbs, it’s only fair that we have the snowmobiles run at the motorcycle hillclimb,” commented Jason Kleinschmidt, MASTERS Director of Race Operations.

This year two motorcycle classes allowing for modified suspension will be added to the competition. All the classes that ran last year will return, including classes for the children to run the smaller “cc” bikes.

Plans are underway in looking at making improvements to the entrance and exit to the grounds. Once again this summer, work will need to be done on the hill, especially after the amount of snow and spring runoff on the hill.

“This event draws a lot of racers and fans to South Range. It is a good benefit to the area’s economy,” commented Jeremy Schmidt, MASTERS official.

The MASTERS, which is an acronym for Mid America Snow and Terrain Expert Racers, has been involved or sanctioning hillclimbs since 1991. Last year was the first time that the MASTERS sanctioned a motorcycle hillclimb. However, the MASTERS had run other forms of off-road vehicle races in the past.

For racer information, including the classes and registration, you can call the MASTERS at 906-884-9101 or see the links at the top of this page.

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Rules changes

April 1, 2019

There have been some minor changes to the general and hillclimb rules for 2020. Please view or download them on the rules page.

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Three western U.P. snowmobile hillclimbers represented Michigan as well as the Upper Peninsula at the World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb in Jackson, Wyoming. Another snowmobiler represented an area snowmobile dealership.

Competing for Pat’s Motorsports of Greenland on the dealership’s Yamahas was Tyler Robinson. Robinson of Afton, Wyoming, posted the fastest time in the Improved Stock 600 class. This advanced him to the finals in that class, along with the second fastest time in the Improved Stock 700 class. 

This is the first time in over 20 years that a snowmobile hillclimber who qualified through the MASTERS Racing Circuit advanced to two finals. The MASTERS, which stands for Mid America Snow and Terrain Expert Racers, is a qualifying hillclimb circuit from the Midwest.

Tyler Robinson, WINTERNATIONALS

“Talk about the highest of highs and lowest of lows! After qualifying first in 600 improved and second in 700 improved, we experienced equipment failure on our Mod runs on Saturday,” explained Robinson. “That ended up literally draining me mentally and physically.”

Even a crew of technicians from throughout the area couldn’t help Hubbell’s Jimmy Marietta. Marietta came down with the flu, yet he competed in 4 different classes. Marietta and his M & M Powersports Arctic Cat excited the thousands of fans in attendance and hundreds of people watching the competition over the Internet.

Sandy Schulz and Jimmy Marietta, Vollwerth’s KOH MACH 2019

“Jimmy (Marietta) had one of the fastest times from the start to the very challenging halfway point up Snow King Mountain,” explained Jason Kleinschmidt, MASTERS VP of Racing. “All of us in the MASTERS are very proud of him, especially when one considers how he was feeling and this being the first time he competed at the World Championship.”

Also qualifying for the World Championship and competing for the first time were Roger Strack of Atlantic Mine and Wyatt McIntyre of Greenland.

Whealkate MACH Roger Strack, 2019

In only his second year of snowmobile hillclimb experience with the MASTERS, Strack ran in both Stock and Mod classes on his Tina’s Katalina/Diamond House International Polaris. The weekend before the World Championships, Strack took a first place finish at the Adventure Mountain Terra-X Race.

It was at the Terra-X race in Greenland that Wyatt McIntyre won two classes. It was that Terra-X experience, along with winning the Junior Division at the Ojibwa Casino Hillclimbs in South Range, that made him the only Junior Division competitor at the World Championship from Michigan.

Wyatt McIntyre, WINTERNATIONALS

“I would like to thank everyone that made my childhood dream of going to Jackson, Wyoming, to race snowmobiles at the world championships. It has been something I thought I’d never get to do. I know many others have come so close but haven’t made it,” stated the 17-year-old McIntyre. “It was an amazing experience, and I hope to do it again soon. I’m grateful for the people who made it possible for me, especially my mother, Trisha McIntyre, the one who pushed me to become a not only a better rider but a better person, and to surround myself with amazing people.”

While McIntyre did not advance, he defeated 12 other Junior racers in qualifying.

Robinson also thanked those from the Western U.P. for giving him the chance to compete in one of the biggest snowmobile events in the world. “Can’t thank the Pat’s Motorsports team enough! Hauling their sleds from Michigan to give me the chance to take them over the top of Snow King, working on the repairs between classes, supporting and believing in me as a racer, and being able to roll with the punches really says a lot!”

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While at this present time Mont du Lac has snow on the hill where the MASTERS was going to run our final race of the season, the hill is losing two inches of snow per hour.

The forecast for next week is highs in the upper 40’s.  To build the course that would make the Terra-X fun, exciting for fans, and competitive, we had planned on a couple jumps.  There is not enough snow to make the jumps, and with the race course developed with the slaloms, and sharp turns, both the MASTERS and Mont du Lac have the fear of damage to the ground. Damage to the ground creates an erosion problem that we simply cannot gamble on.

We are sorry for those who have made plans. For those who have sent in their pre-registration, simply e-mail me if you want us to send back your check or to void the check.

This would have been the latest we ran at Mont du Lac. The MASTERS is sending this to the management at Mont du Lac and requesting that we move our final race, a Terra-X race at Mont du Lac, up one week to March 28, 2020.

Thank you to Mont du Lac for once again being so cooperative and friendly to work with! Mont du Lac staff is simply FANTASTIC to work with!

Thank you to all our MASTERS racers for understanding that no one ever thought that with the winter we had, we would have had this quick of a “meltdown” as we have had all over the Midwest.

To be fair in determining the 2019 Terra-X TOP GUN Champion, we are going to run the final points race for Terra-X at our FIRST Terra-X next season; that will be the North Country Snowmobile Club Terra-X in Ontonagon, MI on January 18, 2020.

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What we are going to do is for those who send in their pre-registration along with fees by April 1st and register for TOP GUN, Pro Open Stock, and one Trail Class, we’re going to GIVE YOU an additional Trail Stock Class entry fee for FREE! Those who register at the Mont du Lac lodge at the bottom of the hill on Friday night, April 5th, if you register for Pro Open Stock, TOP GUN, and one Trail Stock class, you will get another Trail Stock class for half the entry fee.

Since Mont du Lac is a ski hill and has additional insurance requirements, we had no choice but to have a separate Terra-X registration.  We really appreciate all the work that Mont du Lac will be doing in setting up the Terra-X course on Friday, along with providing us with their digital timing system and PA system. The staff at Mont du Lac is GREAT for the MASTERS to work with and they really treat all of us great.

Not to forget how they brought our MASTERS flagman back to life after his heart stopped from his heart attack last year.

Registration will be Friday night, April 5th from 6 to 8 p.m. Central time at the lodge at the bottom of the hill.

Test N Tune will run from 9 to 10:00 a.m. CT. Mandatory Drivers Meeting will be from 10:15 a.m. CT to 10:30 a.m. CT, with racing to start 5 minutes after the completion of the Drivers Meeting. As of right now, we’re planning on running the Juniors, Trail Stock classes first, then go to the 120’s, then come back with the 1st round of Trail Mod, and finish the first round with Pro Open Stock and TOP GUN. This is going to be dependent on snow conditions, so it may change. I will keep everyone updated as to the order of the racing.

We’re going to be running on the ski runway to the right when looking up the hill. This is where we ran the Uphill Drags last year.

We’ll have the awards ceremony in the lodge at the bottom of the hill approximately an hour to 90 minutes after the races have concluded. Make plans on competing in the final MASTERS Race of the year, the Terra-X finals at Mont du Lac, April 6th!

Thanks again everyone!

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Adventure Mountain welcomes Terra-X Racers

March 18, 2019

Fans and racers came out to see Terra-X racing at Adventure Mountain in Greenland on Saturday. They were treated by a lot of sunshine and snow to see snowmobilers go through a winding course up and down the former ski hill. It was in the Pat’s Motorsports Pro Open Stock that Jordan Wolfe of Montreal, […]

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Robinson and Marietta win WINTERNATIONALS

February 26, 2019

Snowmobilers from four states braved the snow falling and snow on Whealkate Bluff to compete at this past Saturday’s Ojibwa Casino WINTERNATIONALS Snowmobile Hillclimb.   Afton, Wyoming’s Tyler Robinson swept all four of the Pro Mod Classes to win the Vollwerth’s Meats Pro Mod King of the Hill. With no other hillclimbers winning a Pro Mod Class, […]

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Ojibwa Casino WINTERNATIONALS Hillclimb at Whealkate Bluff, South Range, MI, Saturday, February 23rd

February 19, 2019

Final registration will be this Friday night from 6 to 8 p.m. Eastern time at the former Big Bucks Bingo Hall, located next to the Ojibwa Casino in Baraga, MI. No registration after 8 p.m. At 8 p.m. we will have the drivers meeting, followed by the draw for class racer order of competition. If […]

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Marietta takes King of Hill

February 5, 2019

Snowmobile hillclimbers came from all over the Midwest, with one coming from Afton, Wyoming. They took part in this past Saturday’s Triest Forest Products-Vollwerth’s Mid America Championship Hillclimb (MACH). The MACH took place at Whealkate Bluff in South Range and was a part of the MASTERS Ojibwa Casino Racing series. It is those who win a class […]

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