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Subzero temps don’t stop racers from taking to Detroit Lakes’ ice

A rider bursts over the start/finish line and flies through the air during the J&K Marine Beach Bar 200 USXC race in Detroit Lakes Saturday morning. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham1 / 6
A pair of racers battle for position during the race on Detroit Lake in front of Holiday Inn. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham2 / 6
Sleds zip across Big Detroit Lake ice during the J&K Marine Beach Bar 200 USXC race Saturday afternoon near the Holiday Inn in Detroit Lakes. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham3 / 6
A pair of USXC racers jump across the starting line during the J&K Marine Beach Bar 200 snowmobile races Saturday afternoon on Big Detroit Lake. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham4 / 6
A snowmobile speeds by during a lap of the race. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham5 / 6
J&K Marine Beach Bar 200 USXC spectators watch as a sled turns a corner near the finish line of Saturday’s race on Big Detroit Lake. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham6 / 6

After blizzard conditions swept through the lakes area Friday night, it looked like the J&K Marine Beach Bar 200 USXC Late Model Cross Country Snowmobile Races, set for Saturday morning in Detroit Lakes, might be in jeopardy.

“When I went to bed Friday night, I was wondering if we were even going to have a race Saturday,” said Brian Nelson, owner of USXC Racing.

But as luck would have it, the following morning dawned clear and chilly, with blue skies persisting throughout the day. Temperatures remained cold, but tolerable for the racers.

“The weather ended up being real nice for racing,” said Kevin Tinjum of J & K Marine, which sponsored the local race along with Detroit Lakes’ Holiday Inn. “Below zero (temperature) is not uncommon for racing snowmobiles. The last race I went to (before Saturday), it was 29 below.

“The biggest thing is to avoid being frostbit,” he added, noting that when traveling 80 miles per hour in subzero temperatures, even a small bit of exposed skin can be a painful reminder of winter’s perils.

“It’s not uncommon to see some guys in the pits after a race with some red marks and swelling on their faces (from frostbite),” Tinjum said.

A total of 20 different classes of pro and semi-pro races were held on the 10-mile, Lemans-style track Saturday in front of the Holiday Inn, in what was designated as round two of the 2013-14 USXC Racing season.

Tinjum himself was a competitor in three different classes of Saturday’s event, finishing first in the Pro Trail class, fourth in the Expert 85 Improved and fifth in the Expert 85 class.

“This is my third season that I’ve raced the whole (USXC) circuit,” Tinjum said, adding that while he tries to make as many races as he can, he does occasionally have to miss one or two.

“Last year, I won the points race in the Sport 85 class,” he said. “Once I started winning, I found out it was pretty fun.”

After finishing first in the Sport 85 class, Tinjum was bumped up to Expert 85 this season.

“I’ve always snowmobiled, I’ve been around it since I was a little kid,” Tinjum said of how he became interested in the sport. “My parents owned a dealership.

“One of the best things about it, I find, is the adrenaline of racing. It’s fun to go and ride your heart out and not have to worry about people coming around the other way (along the trail).”

As for his win on Saturday, Tinjum said there may have been a little bit of luck involved.

“I think Parker (Thilmony, also of Detroit Lakes) would have beaten me, but he got tangled up with another racer and that slowed him down. That’s part of cross country racing. Somebody might be faster than you, but some things happen and you still end up winning the race.”

Thilmony did take home a title of his own, however, after finishing first in the Expert 85 class.

Up next in USXC competition is the Willmar Area Lakes 100 in Willmar, Minn., on Jan. 18 — and Tinjum says he plans on being there.

“I plan on going to that one,” he said.

USXC Racing is the largest cross-country snowmobile racing organization in North America. The USXC has planned to hold a total of eight races during its 2013-14 race season, which runs from December 2013 to March 2014.

Follow USXC on Facebook or visit for more information, registration, news and race results. Contact USXC at 320-894-5839 or e-mail

More snowmobile fun

The Holiday Inn will also be hosting another big snowmobile racing event this month, the Pro Ice 100 Shootout Snowmobile Drag Races on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18-19.

The event is co-sponsored by Shooting Star Casino. Races start at noon on Saturday, and 10 a.m. on Sunday.

For more information, please call Danny at 701- 305-0119, or visit the website,

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454