Battle on the Bay set for February
STANDISH TWP. — After being canceled in 2012 due to unseasonably warm weather, the Battle on the Bay snowmobile races are set to take place Feb. 9-10 at White’s Beach.
The event is endorsed by the Great Lakes Drag Racing Association, and kicks off at noon on Saturday and 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
“I just met with the race circuit guys,” Dave Beechum, who organized the event alongside Gary Foco, said. “We walked the track and it looks good. We’ve got six inches of ice, and the shore ice is close to the ground, so the ice conditions are good so far.”
“We’ve got a little warming spell coming, which will be good. We’ve got some rough surfaces on the ice and that will smooth them out,” he added. “We’ve got another cold snap after that, so everything is looking good.”
Due to the odd winter weather this year and last, Beechum said the planning has largely been last-minute, but he expected a strong turnout of racers from Michigan and out of state. Racers from the East Coast, Minnesota, Illinois, and Wisconsin will join competitors from all over Michigan at the event.
“We’ve got quite a few outside snowmobile-racing guys that are trying to get the word out. We’re trying to get this thing pushed because of weather conditions,” Beechum said. “We have to put these things together quickly.”
Due to the short timetable of getting the event together, he said an amateur racetrack will not be in place for the Battle on the Bay. A “kitty cat race” for kids is scheduled to happen on Saturday, however, where kids with small snowmobiles will get the chance to go out on the track.
“I’m working on rounding up some trophies,” he said. “We had it the first year and kids just enjoyed it.”
He said the biggest races will take place on Sunday, depending on the number of participants
Currently sign-ups are being done in advance at Bay Cycle in Bay City, while latecomers can sign up at the event on the morning of the races, starting about 8 a.m.
All proceeds from the event will go into the Au Gres-Sims Wolverine Pride Association, which raises money for the school district’s athletics program. Beechum said he is interested in adding Standish-Sterling’s athletics program for next year’s event, and added there are other charities he would like to see money go to if the event ends well. There is also talk of next year’s event being made a championship race by the drag racing association.
He felt the races would also have a positive economic impact on the area, as people coming in to race or spectate would be spending money on gas and at eateries in the area. Beechum added the Au Gres Little League team has volunteers who will be selling some hot foods at the Battle on the Bay, like sloppy joes, chili, hot dogs, and pulled pork.
Down the road he said he would like to see the event get a whole carnival going, and become more important on the snowmobile racing circuit. First, however, he said weather conditions need to get back to normal so they can start planning earlier.
“This winter and last winter have been so different,” he said. “You can’t plan anything because of the weird weather we’re having.”