I-500 Snowmobile Race Ready for Next Year
SAULT STE. MARIE — The first weekend of February is always circled for race fans and Michiganders for one big reason: the International 500 Snowmobile Race, but this year, the race will not happen on Saturday because of COVID-19 concerns.
Despite the lack of race events this past week, the race committee is not taking any breaks as they prepare for the race in 2022.
“That’s what we’re doing now our crew is doing as much as we can to move forward and help everybody else out too,” said Bill Cryderman, the race director. “It gets into your blood and it’s kind of what you do every year this time, and people don’t understand what to do with their time.”
This week has been tough to see an empty track when they are used to inviting people from all over the country and over the border for the event.
“It’s very difficult. It’s difficult for everybody that’s behind the sport of oval ice racing and winter sports enthusiasts,” said Ric Federau, the race’s chairman. ” For the I-500 people, it’s heart-wrenching, it’s gut-wrenching for us. We’re sad it had to happen but in lieu of the circumstances, we made the right decision. I know it’s tough. I know people are frustrated. We get that.”
However, the race committee expects to see a bigger crowd next year because of the lack of a race in 2021.
“I’m going to predict it’s going to be bigger than our 50th anniversary,” Federau said. “People are antsy to get out. They want to get out and see things, get out and party with us and come to the race and it’s just going to be exciting in 2022.”
“You know, 52 years straight is a pretty good run. And it might revitalize a little bit from the race committee side,” Cryderman said. “I don’t see a lot of changes through the sleds or what we’re going to race here, but I do know that the passion in the racers has amped because they’re missing it.”
Next year’s events for the 53rd running of the International 500 Snowmobile Race will start on Monday, Jan. 31, and end with the race on Saturday, Feb. 5.