EAGLE RIVER -
Thousands of people will head into Eagle River this week for the 56th Vintage World Championship Snowmobile Derby. But this year's event will mark the first derby under the track's new ownership.
It takes a lot of work getting the World Championship Derby Complex track ready for its biggest event of the year.
"We've been putting hay bails out," said Brian Schiele, a World Championship Derby Complex investor and advisory committee member. "John and I have been outside parking all the new race rigs that are coming in, we're making snow as we speak."
They're getting everything ready for the hundreds of Snowmobile Derby racers and the thousands of spectators.
"Vintage weekend is going to be ginormous, suites are gone, hot seats are gone," said Craig Marchbank, one of three track owners. "We are almost at record entries right now."
But all that work hasn't been easy for the track's new owners.
"We were under pressure a little bit to get it going," said Schiele. "We took over the track kind of late in the year."
"[Several] days above 35 to 40 degrees, can't make ice, can't make snow," said Marchbank.
Despite the setbacks, they're confident it'll be ready for the vintage derby races this weekend.
"We're doing the snow dance and today it's actually nice and cold, and it's supposed to be cold through the race weekend and derby weekend next weekend," said Schiele.
The new owners have been getting help from some derby veterans like John Kosir, who has helped out at the track for 19 years.
"It's crazy, but it's nice. I enjoy the racing," said Kosir. "We just have a good time doing it."
A good time that will be a big first for the track's new leaders.
"To get the track race ready and to make the experience for the spectators absolutely wonderful there was a lot of work that went behind it and a lot of planning," said Schiele. "We're excited about it and I know we're going to have a very successful race."
The Vintage Derby starts Friday. More than 700 racers have signed up for the event.