Wisconsin becomes a hotbed for a cold-weather sports in January, when three top-notch snowmobile races are held.
The World Championship Snowmobile Derby in Eagle is the biggest event, attracting more than 1,400 entrants and 30,000 spectators. This year's derby will be held Jan. 11-20.
Not that far from Eagle, in Cable, the World Power Sports Association (WPSA) Snowmobile Races will be held Jan. 19-20 at the Telemark resort. This is a regional competition with many of the top snowmobile racers in the Midwest competing.
A third race, the Budweiser Classic Race of Champions will be held Jan. 12-13 in Plymouth.
The Eagle derby is considered by many to be the world's premier snowmobile event. This will be the 45th anniversary of the event, which draws some of the best racers from around the world.
On Jan.. 12-13, the Vintage Snowmobile Championship will be held. "The 'venerable machines of yesterday' start the season with a weekend of racing. This style of racing has come a long way from its first appearance in 1991 at the Derby," reads the derby Web site, derbytrack.com.
"The machines are meticulously restored. Engines are tuned and reliable. The racers themselves look sharp in era leathers or contemporary race gear. And the closeness of the competition is highly reminiscent of the 'good old days'."
World Championship races in several categories start Jan. 17 and run through the 20th. Gary Moyle, a Houghton, Mich., racer, will try to defend his title. Moyle has won the main world title two of the last three years.
The Eagle River races have been carried on "Wide World of Sports" and other TV shows and networks over the years.
Telemark has hosted snowmobile races before and is working with the WPSA on a second race, with the first being held in December.
"We're very happy to work with WPSA to secure Snocross racing at Telemark Resort," said Darrell Buchmann, general manager, Telemark Resort & Convention Center.
"Telemark has hosted Snocross and Hillcross racing for five years, and we always look forward to these events. The riders, their crews and families have enjoyed the tracks we've made, as well as the convenience of having lodging, food and amenities at Telemark. We are committed to providing services necessary to ensure successful races, and pleased to add more quality sporting events that will also attract more visitors to the area."
The race in Plymouth is a USSA-sanctioned professional snowmobile racing on both oval and Snocross tracks. On Saturday, Jan. 12, a Kitty Cat Race will be held at 11 a.m. Oval and Snocross track races will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 13.
Other local and regional snowmobile races are held throughout the winter. You can find out more about them by going to: travelwisconsin.com/Snowmobiling.aspx.
You need not be a racer to enjoy snowmobiling in Wisconsin, Although some might dispute it, the state lays claim to be the birthplace of snowmobiling. Carl Eliason of Sayner reportedly built the first machine-powered sled in 1924.
Wisconsin native Dick Decker is a member of the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame. Decker is one of the best known tour guides (along with his wife, Audrey) and racers in North America.
A snowmobiler since the mid-1960s, Decker is a founding father of the Eagle River race and the owner of Decker Sno-Venture Tours.
The state offers ample places to enjoy the sport. From the Travel Wisconsin web site: "Today more than 22,000 miles of interconnected snowmobiling trails crisscross Wisconsin, including 350 miles of former railroad beds that convert to snowmobile 'highways' in the winter.
"County, state and national trails link every corner of the state and are dutifully maintained by local snowmobiling clubs. Northern Wisconsin's snowmobile-friendly towns make the state a rider's paradise."
So, whether you want to be a spectator, or a participant, you can find some ace snowmobiling in Wisconsin in January.