2007-01-18 / Front Page


MIRA Racers May Move to New Location
By Amy Polk

Clark Township volunteers are planning a Midwest International Racing Association (MIRA) snowmobile race, "Blizzard on the Bay," for the second year in a row, and has scheduled the event for Saturday, February 24, and Sunday, February 25. Originally planned for Cedarville Bay, the lack of ice there will probably force the event to another location. Organizers are now searching for an alternative location. The race needs a flat, open space of about 12 acres on which to build the track. The site will also need easy access for cars and trucks with trailers, because snowmobile racers will park alongside the track so they can load and unload their vehicles at the site.

Last year, warm weather forced the committee to cancel Blizzard on the Bay in late January, when the bay lacked the minimum 12 inches of ice needed to support the weight of vehicles, trailers, and snowmobiles.

The Les Cheneaux Chamber of Commerce elected last year to host the mid-winter snowmobile race to stimulate the Clark Township economy during one of the slowest times of the year, between the holidays and Snowsfest in February. Following last year's bad luck, organizers decided to move the event to a later weekend to allow more time for thicker ice to develop. This year's unusually warm weather, however, has not been cold enough to create even a few inches of ice. Boaters and anglers were still easily navigating the open channels around the Les Cheneaux Islands as late as the first two weeks of January.

"We're a very committed group and want to see this thing happen," said committee member Dan Autore. "We're looking to do whatever we can, and we welcome anyone with questions or ideas to call us or come on board."

Regardless of the location, members of the committee want to steer as much lodging business and as many patrons toward Cedarville and Hessel as they can. Registration is at the Kewadin Casino in Hessel, and a post-race awards ceremony and reception will be at Snows Bar and Grill in Cedarville. The event's primary sponsor is Kewadin Casinos, but the committee is still seeking sponsors, since the event will cost approximately $10,000. All businesses and individuals who donate $250 or more will be advertised at the track. Businesses or individuals who donate $500 or more will be included in the event's advertising campaign and receive free entry bands.

Blizzard on the Bay is a 300- lap oval track snowmobile race sanctioned and managed by the MIRA. Communities who want to host MIRA races are able to benefit from the presence of 200 to 400 racers, crew members, track workers, and another 500 to 1,500 spectators, the committee estimates. The race will be one of six on the MIRA racing circuit this year. The first has already been canceled because of poor weather conditions. The Blizzard race will take place a week after an MIRA race scheduled for Drummond Island. The committee believes this will help keep racers in the area as they move from race to race.

Similar to last year, the committee is working to make the races a community event by offering organizations the opportunity to sell concessions, and needs volunteers to help, particularly with track building, plowing, collecting admissions, and parking.

"We have to look at this as, we're all in this together," committee chair Todd Lysinger said, not only of the race, but also of any efforts to stimulate the area's economy.

MIRA's racing categories include Kitty-cats and 100's, Semi-Pro Stock, Semi-Pro Stock Enduro, Pro-Stock, Champ 440, 700 Open-Mod, and Pro-Am Stock Enduro. Sprint and "shootout" qualifying races will be Saturday, and will determine racers' places in the next day's race. Spectators describe the event as NASCAR-style racing with snowmobiles.

Tickets will be $15 for the entire weekend, and can be obtained by calling Bud Lowers at the Les Cheneaux Welcome Center at (906) 484-3935, or one of the race coordinators. Committee members include Tom Augugliaro, Amy Ross, and Messrs. Autore and Lysinger.

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