Stuart and Erin Eeg and their children Lawrence and Aubrey traveled about nine hours and 450-plus miles from their Greenbush, Minn., home to Eagle River, Wisc., located in the northeastern portion of the state. They arrived at the snowmobile racing venue there on January 13 evening— a day before practice rounds began for the World Championship Snowmobile Derby, an event known as the “Indianapolis 500 of Snowmobile Racing,” according to eagleriver.org.
“The track there is quite. What’s the word I’m looking for? It’s pretty spectacular. It was my first time there actually,” Erin Eeg said. “And it’s a whole different venue. They actually turned the ice blue, so it’s colored blue. The lights are all on. So when they race at night, it’s pretty spectacular.”
It is a half-mile banked oval track, according to a wkow.com titled, “Know your Wisconsin: World Championship Derby Complex.” The venue also includes, as Erin added, large warm box seats at the end of the track for people to purchase and sit in.
“It’s a pretty cool venue,” Erin said. “So we pulled in there late Wednesday night, and had the kids take a picture by the track late that night.”
Then the next day (Thursday) Lawrence and Aubrey began driving their snowmobiles for practice rounds, a day prior to the race action beginning at the World Championship Snowmobile Derby, January 14-17.
Lawrence and Aubrey, along with their mom Erin, discussed the preparation behind this event, and their finishes at this event. They also discussed what they enjoy about Eagle River and snowmobile racing in general, their previous snowmobile racing experience and how snowmobile racing compares or differs to another activity they both do— motocross racing.
As for the preparation leading up to this race in Eagle River, it goes beyond just loading the necessary equipment into a trailer.
“(Before going to the races), we go riding and make sure everything’s sharp, “ Lawrence said, “and runs good, and it’s fast.”
As Erin explained, they test drive at the Strathcona Ice Oval Track to ensure everything on the snowmobile is running properly, including the engine. They also change out parts, such as carbides (also known as ski-runners, according to thesnowguide.com) and studs.
“It’s all fun. Wahls (Brothers Racing) help out a lot,” Erin said, “and then thanks to Nathan Westland having the track over in Strathcona, we’re able to try the machines out, so that helps out a lot.”
They usually practice in preparation for these events a few weeks beforehand.
“It was a later year, but right when the ice gets good in Strathcona we start working towards Eagle River,” Erin said. “We pull the kids out sometimes a little bit early from school just because the daylight’s burning and (we) try to get over there.”
At Eagle River, Lawrence raced in the Junior F500, the F500 Sport, and the F500. Aubrey raced in the Junior One-Stock 340 Wisconsin Circuit and in the Junior Two-Stock.
Speaking of results, on Friday competing at night under the lights, Lawrence finished first in the F500 Sport. On Sunday, he finished second in the F500 Sport final, second in the Junior F500 final, and sixth in F500 final. Lawrence talked about the F500 finish.
“I was leading the first half of the race. And then my sled, I was hitting dirt on the track, so my sled went all dull and stuff was breaking,” Lawrence said.
Erin added, “His carbides, the sharp razor blade things on the bottom of the sled, broke. And after the first two, three laps, he kind of just backed off because he couldn’t turn.”
As for Aubrey, she finished first in the Junior One-Stock 340 Wisconsin Circuit and second in the Junior Two-Stock final.
“Cleaned house on those Wisconsin kids, didn’t you,” Erin asked Aubrey with a laugh.
Both siblings enjoy snowmobile racing for the opportunity to spend time with friends. As Erin highlighted, they’ve gotten to know many people from Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin during their time on the snowmobile racing circuit.
Asked about the similarities between motocross racing and snowmobile racing— activities both siblings do— Lawrence and Aubrey both said there is nothing similar about the races at all, besides, as Erin said, how the races are broken into heats and finals.
They also explained the uniqueness in how these racing snowmobiles are set up.
“Everything’s customized… You can’t really buy any of it from a factory,” Lawrence said. “It all has to come from people who make the sled, like Wahl Brothers… They pretty much make the parts.”
Erin added, “Essentially, the snowmobiles are put together handmade. You don’t just buy them from Polaris for instance, like you would a regular snowmobile.”
Even though there’s not much the same between motocross racing and snowmobile racing, they do hold one similarity for the Eeg family.
“Back to the whole motocross thing, it’s family time,” Erin said. “I mean, we spent nine hours in the car getting there (to Eagle River). You spend time with your family and friends at the track.”
As Aubrey added, “You’re with the people you like all the time.”
This family is doing something they love and doing it with people they enjoy being around, claiming more than just racing victories, but also many memorable times together.
“(I enjoy) just to see these kids go out and do what they love to do. It’s pretty exciting,” Erin said. “It’s kind of addicting. And, to be able to have both of my kids doing the same thing in the same venue is, I think, great.”