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Old sleds meet new snow at Old Timers Run

Hundreds braved the cold morning in Lake Park for the annual Midnight Riders Old Timers Snowmobile Run Saturday. Brian Basham/Tribune1 / 5
Melissa Karsten of Frazee is presented a trophy for her 1969 Ski Doo Olympic 12-3. She won the sled in last year's ULTRA snowmobile raffle. Brian Basham/Tribune2 / 5
Sleds head down the ditch along Highway 10 on their way to Audubon. Brian Basham/Tribune3 / 5
A fox-headed Jeff Schlauderaff has a laugh with friends before the run began. Brian Basham/Tribune4 / 5
A 1979 Sno Runner owned by Ryan Douglas raised some eyebrows during the judging in Lake Park Saturday morning. Brian Basham/Tribune5 / 5

The Old Timers Snowmobile run went off without a hitch on Saturday after riders took advantage of the new and much needed nine or so inches of snow.

"That snow was God-sent," said Bud Hovelson, a member of the Midnite Riders Snowmobile Club that hosted the event.

Roughly 1,175 riders showed up for the slow-paced, take-it-all-in kind of a ride, which went from Lake Park around the Cormorant area and back again.

Nearly 700 sleds took off from Lake Park that morning in the cold conditions (it was a high of about 10 degrees that day).

"It was a little cool, but it wasn't windy, so nobody was complaining," said Hovelson.

But although the Old Timers Run is specifically geared towards the old-style sleds, Hovelson says this year was a little different.

"We had a lot of newer ones this year," he said of the ride that allows both old and new, "and I think that's because we hadn't had any snow all winter, so some people just weren't prepared. They had their sleds sitting in the shed and hadn't had them maintenanced, so it was probably just easier to bring their newer ones."

Hovelson says that's likely also the reason there seemed to be a good number of breakdowns along the path this year as well.

"We go two winters without snow and then all of a sudden we get these nine inches... I think it just sort of took some by surprise," he said, adding that when the storm hit early last week the Midnite Riders knew they were going to have to scramble to get it all ready by Saturday.

"The whole ball game changed," said Hovelson, "We had to get the groomer out and the course set, but we were prepared for almost all of it."

And aside from a few minor rollovers that are par for the course, Hovelson says there were no accidents that they've heard of, which he says is the most important thing to them.

"We went out and marked Cormorant Lake at the last minute because there was an ice ridge that had popped up because of the heavy snow," said Hovelson, "but we're happy because nobody got hurt and nobody got lost."

Midnite Riders Club President Tom Holmes says he's been riding these kinds of rides for 22 years and says this was one of the really good ones.

"It was fresh, new snow and everybody was really well behaved and really enjoying themselves," said Holmes, who says the big event also meant big business for the area businesses along the trail that provided cash and prizes for the event. The 1,175 sold tickets also put $10,750 into the club's trail grooming fund.

"It was just a good day to snowmobile and visit with friends and people they've met from past rides," said Hovelson, "the temps were good, the snow was good and everyone had a great time."

The Big Detroit 100-vintage Snowmobile

Race/Polar Fest Kick Off

Now that snowmobile enthusiasts have gotten a taste of real winter again, another event is right around the corner.

The Big Detroit 100-Vintage Snowmobile Race is set for Saturday, February 9 with registration going from 7-9 a.m. The race, which is only for vintage models years 1973 and older, begins at 11 behind the Holiday Inn on the Lake.

There will be three different classes of races -- HD, HR and Relic.

This is the second year for this event, which is expected to bring in around 70 racers.

There will be a five-mile path carved along the lake, which means racers will have to go 20 laps to finish the 100-mile race.

The price to enter the race is $100, with the top four in each category splitting the cash prizes.

There is no cost for spectators, who can also watch the event from warmth of the bar and restaurant.

For more information on the race, log on to