Start your engines: The International 500 Snowmobile Race starts Saturday

Video Credit: Doogie Beaudoin

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mich (WLNS) – An annual event that brings thousands of snowmobile enthusiasts to the east side of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula takes place Saturday, February 1st.

Even though the festivities began on January 27th, race day is Saturday. The 2020 International 500 Snowmobile Race will be the 52nd consecutive running of the prestigious race.

On February 8th, 1969 a very tired Ski Doo rode by Dan Planck of Davidson at the helm – finally crossed the finish line. Planck was followed by only 26 other machines that had traveled a combined 13,891 miles. The 27 snowmobiles completed their 500-mile quota in one day.

The International 500 Snowmobile Race in Sault Ste. Marie is the most grueling snowmobile race in the world and Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers remind everyone to “Ride Right.”

“Snow base across the upper half of the U.P. is still good,” said Sgt. Jerry Fitzgibbon, the DNR’s acting district law supervisor for the eastern Upper Peninsula. “We expect to see a lot of traffic in the Sault Ste. Marie area and want to encourage everyone to have a great time and enjoy the race weekend responsibly.”

Conservation officers patrol on and off snowmobile trails to ensure people are riding sober, riding on the right side of the trail, operating at a safe speed and staying under the 88-decibel sound limit.

“Landowners and residents near the trail system continue to experience issues with loud snowmobiles,” said Sgt. Marc Pomroy, area law supervisor for Gogebic, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties. “Conservation officers will continue to conduct group patrols to test for modified exhaust systems that exceed Michigan’s sound limit.”

Connecting with snowmobilers is an important part of conservation officers’ daily winter duties.

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