Northern Michigan is about to get another major event for the winter season: and this one is high energy and high octane.
The Midwest International Racing Association is teaming up with the Grand Traverse Resort to bring in the Turtle Creek Casino 250.
Stephen Town is from Traverse City and races with Town Brothers Racing. “I know there’s a ton of snowmobile enthusiasts in town so it’s really exciting to bring this event here this winter,” he says.
The event on the last weekend in January will bring in riders and spectators for two days of high speed racing. “There’s a format on Saturday that’s a lot of short sprint races. Between 5-7 laps. You’ll line up 10-12 sleds out here and it’s an all-out sprint for that short amount of time,” Town says. They’ll have 20 different classes of high intensity quick races; plus races for the littlest kids, and a Junior Class staring at age 8.
Photo Courtesy of Stephen Town
Day two of racing brings the main event. Karl Schwartz with the Midwest International Racing Association says, “It will be a NASCAR-style event with snowmobiles. We’ll actually qualify for starting position. There will be pit stops, there will be pit crews. Instead of a pace car there will be a pace sled pacing the field. It’s really exciting racing. We actually have electronic scoring just like NASCAR does. True driver radio communications just like NASCAR does.”
Town adds, “It’s about a two-hour race and similar to a NASCAR format. Where once the sleds start the race they keep racing until it’s done. So you come in, you get to watch quick pit stops that take 15 seconds to fill the sleds with gas and change the skis. And swap a rider and get right back out there.”
In all, it’s A 250-mile race, 500 laps. “We’re going to be hitting speeds of 90 mph on these sleds. So that’s going to be really cool to see,” Town says.
Photo Courtesy of Stephen Town
Right now, the site is just a grassy field on property owned by the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, next the Meijer store off of M-72 in Acme Township. But after a million gallons of water turns to ice they’ll be ready for this two-day event on a newly built ice track. “Between now (and January) what’s behind us in this grassy field will transform into an ice oval race facility. Somewhere in the neighborhood of a million gallons of water will go down to create an ice oval,” Schwartz says.
They’re already expecting the race to bring in hundreds of riders and crew members. “We’ll have probably 250 entries in the variety of classes we offer. On Sunday our main event we limit to 32 starters. And each one of those pro-Enduro teams will bring a crew of 5-10 people” Schwartz adds.
The economic impact could extend to thousands more just here to watch it all go down. Schwartz says, “We’ll bring 500 hotel rooms here. We’ll bring people buying gas and food and all kinds of other activities in the area. So we’ll bring a lot of folks here, hopefully we’ll have 2,000 spectators.”
The Midwest International Racing Association holds similar racing events in Gaylord and the Alpena areas, but they say they’re happy to be coming to Traverse City. “Our opportunity to come to the west side of Michigan just was a natural fit for MIRA,” Schwartz says.
Town’s team plans to be racing, and they’re glad to have the chance to do it in their backyard. “This is the first winter we actually get to bring a race to our hometown. So we’re really excited.”
For more information about the race, .
And for more information on Turtle Creek, the Grand Traverse Resort or accommodations, .