By Mike Spieker
GLYNDON, Minn – For just the second time in Buffalo River Race Park’s 63 year history, snowmobile ice racing will return to the high banks of Glyndon’s quarter-mile oval. The inaugural two-day Country Cat Snodown Racing Festival is set for this Friday and Saturday with day racing at 10:30am and the night show, which will feature the premiere classes, beginning at 6:00pm both days.
Grandstand admission is free to all ages all weekend long.
“We made the decision to offer free grandstand admission to make it a really affordable way to get out with your family and friends to check out something new and exciting,” said Snodown event director, Lindsey Fontaine. “One of our biggest goals is to get new fans in the stands but we know that won't happen if the average family has to spend $100 just to get in the door. We'd rather you spend your money on food or a t-shirt and just have a really great experience.”
Fans can upgrade their ticket to view the races in Buffalo River Race Park’s elevated, climate controlled indoor seating.
Aside from the racing, another attraction of the event will be the track itself. Kevin Nathe, general manager of Buffalo River Race Park, is bringing the blue ice back, something he experimented with in the last snowmobile racing event.
“We dabbled with it a little bit for the last round of racing last time and everybody seemed to like it. So this year we started with the blue ice from the beginning. It’s turned out really cool. It’s a lot more colorful and darker.”
Since early November, Nathe has been laying down ice on top of the dirt track.
“It’s a long process,” said Nathe.
Depending on the temperature, it takes around eight to 10 hours of labor to create one inch of ice on the racing surface. It’s estimated that Nathe has laid down 16-20 inches of ice in preparation for this weekend’s races.
An eclectic mix of new and old sleds and novice and experienced riders will be on display throughout the weekend.
“When choosing which classes we would run, we made sure to include a wide variety. Fans will see sleds from the ‘70s dicing it out, kids who are still years away from getting their drivers license turning super fast laps, factory stock snowmobiles that can be bought from the showroom floor, and Pro Champs reaching close to 100 mph. There's really something for everyone,” said Fontaine.
This weekend’s event will be the first of three big snowmobile ice racing weekends at Buffalo River Race Park this winter. Round two of the Snodown Racing Festival is set for February 1-2, followed by the Country Cat Throwback 200 on February 16. The Throwback 200 will be a 200-lap endurance race for sleds 1998 and older, featuring a top prize of $10,000-to-win. All of these events will be ran under the Ice Oval banner, a new sanctioning body to snowmobile ice racing.
“We've had a good relationship with Buffalo River for a while and between it's location, the awesome indoor seating area and the fast, banked track with multiple race lines, it was a no brainer to host our first few events here as we establish ourselves as a sanctioning body,” continued Fontaine.
While Buffalo River Race Park is known for its weekly dirt track racing program during the summer, the speedway is no stranger to snowmobiles. This weekend’s Snodown Racing Festival will be the first ice racing event at the track since 2017. Prior to that, the speedway hosted national championship snocross events for several years.
“Snowmobiling has always been a passion of mine,” said Nathe. “Whether it’s snowcross or ice racing, if it has anything to do with a sled, it’s always been something I’ve loved. I’m excited with the direction the sport is going and I’m happy to be a part of it.”
All ice oval events at Buffalo River Race Park this winter will be featured on national television as a part of the Ice Oval Championship series on MAVTV Motorsports Network.
“National television is no stranger to ice oval snowmobile broadcast history,” added Fontaine. “The hay days of the late ‘70s and the early ‘80s featured World Championships and crown jewel events across the United States and Canada. Our goal is to bring back a historic sport to a new audience on MAVTV. We want to capture the intense racing action and prove to viewers that ice oval racing is the best show on snow.”