Most motor sports have a shrine quality “Mecca” that holds annual World Championships. Daytona, Indy, have cars covered, and Vintage Snowmobile racers recognize Eagle River Wisconsin as the pinnacle of competition in their sport. This writer has had the privilege of being there with locals, Chet Hooper of Pittsburg, and his driver Spencer Landry (formerly of Pittsburg) in 2018-19, which turned out to be one great experience. Eagle River boasts a half mile, banked, dedicated track, with heated grand stands. It is a true test to the ability of man and machine in this unique sport. The World’s Championship complex exudes racing tradition going back to the beginning of the sport in the late 60’s and early 70’s, and is hallowed ground to most racers of the sport. Prior attempts to qualify for the final Championship race saw progress; the team got very close to qualifying for the final, but never quite made it. The fraternity of racers from all over the world makes this a venue that few people get a chance to experience over the three day event, covering 90 plus classes.
In 2020-21, things changed with a complete re build of the Arctic Cat Mod 440 by team leader Chet Hooper of Pittsburg, and the addition of new driver from Lancaster, Lucas Nast. Lucas, in his early twenties, had been racing locally with great success, and jumped at the chance to make the trip to compete at the highest level with Chet. 2021 brought them closer to their goal with a great machine and high hopes. The event was held January 8 through the10th, 2021.Qualifications are handled on the track, solo, against the clock, going only two laps. Very few people make the cut. Participants who make the cut move on to the quarter finals, semi finals, and Last Chance Qualifiers. The ten machines lined up for the final race, with two others in the second row who get there from the LCQ compete in the final race. Lucas Nast was one of those in the front row who exhibited an amazing feat of skill and guts. Being in the top ten snowmobile racers in the world is no small accomplishment, and watching him compete online against the best was a real show. Lucas was entered in several racing classes, including the 800cc class heats with a 440cc that he came close to winning.
The Final Race was staged on Sunday afternoon and was a real production, including an invocation of a local minister with words of wisdom and encouragement. The line up by the flag man was precise. The flag dropped for the start! Twelve machines all heading for turn one created quite a dramatic scene of speed, position and courage. Lucas, aboard Arctic Cat #67, fought with the best in the world and finished 10th.Tune in again next year. It should be interesting.