The stories are endless and legendary. The old grainy black and white photos of guys with names like Cormican, Lindblad, Duhamel, Nelson, and Simonson.
The Winnipeg to St. Paul International 500 cross country race set the bar for snowmobile racing from 1966-1980. Now a whole new generation of racers will get to experience the challenge of the gold standard in cross country races.
After a lot of work with more work to come, USXC Racing officially announces the running of the 2015 Seven Clans Casinos I-500. The ’15 I-500 will be a four day passage from Winnipeg, Manitoba to Willmar, MN. Over 500 miles of racing action awaits riders, following a good portion of the original I-500 route.
USXC owner and two-time I-500 champion Brian Nelson made the announcement official at this year’s Seven Clans I-500 awards presentation. “There is a lot of work yet to be done, but the race is a go,” Nelson said. “We’re just so excited to be able to hold this legendary race once again for a whole new group of competitors.”
The original Winnipeg to St. Paul I-500 started in 1966 is an event associated with the St. Paul winter carnival. Over the 14 year span of the original race, it was run both directions between Winnipeg and St. Paul, depending on conditions and other factors. The early ’80s was a difficult time for the race with a lack of snow and rough economic times for the snowmobile industry putting the race on a six year hiatus.
The I-500 resumed in 1987 running routes between Thunder Bay, Ontario and the northern Twin Cities suburbs. Then the race began its current format of running in loops, first around the Lake of the Woods area, followed by a one-off at The Sky Dancer Casino in North Dakota, and finally finding a home at The Seven Clans Casino in Thief River Falls, MN.
Other than the six year gap in the ’80s the race has only been cancelled twice, ironically 10 years apart in 2002 and 2012. There are a few multi-time winners of the race, but the king of the modern era I-500 is Bryan Dyrdahl, winning the race five times aboard both Arctic Cat and Ski-Doo sleds.
For 2015, the green flag will drop at the Winnipeg Speedway just south of Winnipeg, Canada and will cross the border and head to Thief River Falls and the Seven Clans Casino on day one. Racers will then be off to Bemidji, MN on day two.
Day three will take riders 180 miles to the legendary Arrowwood Resort in Alexandria, MN. The 2015 I-500 closes out on day four with a 125 mile dash to the finish line in Willmar, MN. There will be five total fuel stops throughout the race and will handled by a fuel truck and manifold system, saving riders the hassle of hauling their own fuel.
Racers will need to book motel rooms early and make other arrangements. An enhanced Minnesota driver’s license or quick pass will be needed for the border crossing. Racers should start preparing now, in order to make sure they are ready in time.
Visit usxcracing.com and go to the special I-500 page for all the information you will need on the race. There is also interesting history about the race along with interviews and a list of past champions.
Join USXC Racing in 2015 to experience the greatest snowmobile race in history. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime event.
USXC Racing is the largest cross-country snowmobile racing organization in North America. USXC held eight races during its 2013-2014 race season which ran from December 2013 to March 2014.