Snowmobilers go for glory in MIRA race

Snowmobilers went as fast as they could in the annual Menominee Ice Challenge races

By Bert Lehman

Leader Correspondant

SHAWANO, WI n With drivers from the MIRA, ICE and USSA circuits on hand, the green flag fell on the Menominee Ice Challenge 600 Saturday afternoon, with all 32 snowmobile drivers having their sights on the top spot. Troy Dewald used his pole position starting spot to jump out to the early lead. He held that lead for nine laps, when Jerry Ortauso overtook Dewald for the top spot.

Ortauso continued to pace the field when the first caution flag flew on lap 29 when two snowmobiles hit the hay bales along the guardrail coming out of turn four. The race was restated only to have the caution come out again 10 laps later. On the restart Dewald reclaimed the lead fro Mortauso.

By the time the race reached the 50 lap mark, Dewald was still leading, but Oratuso was hanging close by. Over the next several laps, they both battled side-by-side with Ortauso trying several ties to make the pass on the outside. H e was unable to make the pass, and Dewald begun to pull away from the field.

Another caution came out on lap 58, this time for a snowmobile that rolled over. Dewald continued to lead on the restart as Ortauso began to fade, giving up the second spot to Monte Tolan. Ortauso then got into the ice dust in corner two, allowing Mike Babcock to move into third place.

Lap 80 saw another caution flag fly. This opportunity was taken to get the plow trucks onto the track and plow a clean track. The caution also allowed all the drivers that didn't already pit, make their pit stop to refuel and change skis. These pits stops were done in around 20 seconds.

When the race was restarted on lap 96, Dewald continued to lead, with John Bosek moving to second and Shane Wahl to third. While those three battled up front, Ortauso was marking his way through the pack and grabbed the fourth spot just past the 100 lap mark. Ten laps later Ortauso moved into the second spot right after a restart. He took over the lead a few laps later.

Ortauso and Wahl pulled out a straight away lead over the rest of the field, as Dewald began to fade. On lap 115 Wahl grabbed the lead only to give it back to Ortauso three laps later. The action was halted on lap 127 when the red flag came out. When the race was restarted Wahl grabbed the lead with an inside pass on Ortauso.

Bosek worked his way back into second place on lap 137, with Tolan following in third. Ortauso flipped his snowmobile coming out of turn two, bringing out another caution. When the race was restarted, it was realized the line running across the track under the ice broke. The line is used to help score the snowmobiles. While that was being fixed the track was plowed again. Due to the lengthy delay, it was decided to cut the race from 250 laps to 175 laps.

On the restart Wahl maintained the lead, with Bosek, Tolan and Joel Diamond following. On lap 152, Bosek made the outside lane work as he grabbed the top spot. Bosek pulled out to a small lead while Wahl faded. Bosek went on to claim the win, with Diamond, Tolan and Babcock following.

It was a long but rewarding day for Bosek, who is from Garfield, Minnesota.

"In the beginning of the race I didn't have much for back shift, so I was way back," said Bosek. "I think I was last for a long time. Then around mid-race things started working a little bit I found nice groove to run in and nobody was running in it (the groove). Once I got hooked up there, then it (snowmobile) started running nice. Saturday's Other Results - Open Modified 1) Terry Wahl, Greenbush, MN; 2) Jeff Longton, Traverse City, MI, 3) Flip Mervin, Wausau, WI. Champ 440 1) Terry Wahl, Greenbush, MN. 2) Dave Wahl, Greenbush, MN, 3) Troy Pierce, Greenbush, MN.

Friday's Results - 440 Champ 1) Dave Wahl, Greenbush, MN; 2) Jeff Ludwig, Freedom, WI; 3) Jeff Moyle, Lake Linden, MI. Open Modified 1) Jeff Moyle, Lake Linden, MI; 2) Carl Schwartz, Saginaw, MI; 3) Mike Babock, Rudyard, MI.

Article category: