Warm weather dealt a setback to North Dakota snowmobile racers.

A race scheduled for Jan. 23 at Lake Vernon in Douglas, south of Minot, has been postponed. Donnovan Nygard and the Dakota 660 Ice Racers made the call because of poor ice conditions for sleds, their riders and spectators of the high speed winter sport.

Snowmobile drag racing is a growing sport in the Bakken as well as the Midwest, Plains states and central Canada. It officially started in 1986 with the founding of National Straightline Snowmobile Racing under the International Snowmobile Racing Association bringing validity to the World Record Series.

In 1988, the “unlimited class” was created to give enthusiasts the opportunity to race their own inventions, creations and engine builds and mods with snowmobile skeletons. By the 1990’s, it could cost up to $80,000 to build one of these frigid speed demons to be a winner. This exponential innovation and president Meg Greenhaw revolutionized snowmobile racing into what we know as “outlaw” today. Competitors now race various types of high performance snowmobiles or “sleds," some reaching controlled chaos speeds of 170+mph over the ice sheeted lakes of middle America. This high adrenaline high speed sport has a special place in hearts of the petrolheads of Williston.

The unusually warm weather has made for poor ice conditions this season so far. The dramatic temperature changes create a honeycomb-like effect in the ice, making the levels unstable throughout the day. Lake Vernon is only 11 feet at its deepest part which also adds to the instability of the warming ice.

Nygard and the Dakota 660 Ice Racers hope to reschedule the races as soon as possible so they don’t have to wait until the grass turf race season at the end of this summer.

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