Snowmobilers race in annual Hill Climb

SLEEPY EYE – Once again, hundreds of spectators braved the cold weather to watch the annual River Valley Dutchmen Snowmobile Club Hill Climb. Held Saturday at Golden Gate Campground near Sleep Eye, the Hill Climb is a snowmobile drag racing competition that attracts enthusiasts from all over the region.

Club President Gary Kuelbs explained that this year was different from the previous. Last year the track was more of a circuit, while this is more of a drag race. From starting line to finishing line, the track is about a quarter mile in length and contains two jumps. Two riders race straight on a hill, the first to reach the top wins. Each event series was run on a double-elimination bracket, ensuring each rider had at least two attempts to be king of the hill.

More than fifty snowmobile riders registered to compete in the various classes. Some riders even registered for multiple events. “It’s not unusual to have one person win multiple events,” said Kuelbs. Kuelbs commented that in the past the 600 class snowmobiles tended to have the most registrations, while the cash classes tend to attract the big name riders.

Regardless of the type of snowmobile ridden, the conditions of the racing track were near perfect. Kuelbs stated that despite the recent cold weather, the snow was great for racing. The weather remained favorable throughout the day with the temperatures at a weekly high. Some snow did fall prior to the races, but this only helped improve the track conditions. The only weather related complaint was the lack of clouds. Without any overcast, many spectators and riders were looking directly into the sun during the afternoon races.

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