EAGLE RIVER - Snowmobiles and Eagle River seem to be synonymous this time of year.
That is thanks to years and years of snowmobile derby history.
John and Betty Alward started the snowmobile derby back in 1964 so their resort could stay open in the winter.
Their son Jake Alward now runs the Chanticleer Inn.
Sometimes, snowmobile drivers stay at the Chanticleer just like they did in the early years of the snowmobile derby.
"They'd come in as somebody you know and on Sunday they'd leave as a world champion. We've had some victory parties here, and that's the world champion. That is the best of the best. And there they are, real people," said Alward.
People come from all over the world to brave the Northwoods cold thanks to what Alward's parents started years ago.
Alward says the hardiness of the snowmobile drivers and spectators remains the same, but the snowmobiles are very different.
"Every year the machines get better, but back when we first started to turn a machine around was a challenge. If you were in a tight area to lift it around, it would take a small parking lot to turn a machine around. Now they turn on a dime," said Alward.
The Vintage Derby Race kicked off Friday morning.
The World Championship Derby starts Friday, Jan. 20.