ESCANABA - In the moments after the team of Kevin and Eric Bouman finished their victory lap in the Pro Mod 600 Enduro race, there was celebration and hope that the return of professional snowmobile racing to the Upper Peninsula would not be just a one-year foray.
Representatives from the Midwest International Racing Association Circuit expressed interest in re-establishing roots in the Upper Peninsula, and fans such as Keith Lynch of Escanaba were enthusiastic.
"I think this is great," said Lynch, noting a good variety of 30-lap races over the weekend. "I would like to see less of a delay between races, though, for next year."
A sparse crowd watched the 500 lap Enduro race, which was the highlight of Saturday's slate. A grueling testament of the skill and passion of these drivers; the Bouman's victory was well-earned.
There were 16 teams comprised of two drivers in the NASCAR-style marathon, with racers tag-teaming out during pit stops. The weather was a crisp 30 degrees with plenty of sunshine, leaving little interference on the 1/8 mile track.
Kevin Bouman was pleasantly surprised his sled received little wear and tear after the exhausting contest.
"A lot of preparation goes into this as far as maintaining the sled, and for it to be in this good of shape after a race is great. We had no problems today and the pit stops went real well. We had good fuel drops and ski changes," he said. "We couldn't have done any of this without all of our sponsors."
The Boumans are part of team LMB Speedshop out of Martin, Mich. The win was their second in Enduro class. Their first win came in 2009 in the Michigan Cat 500 Pro Open, when the team was named Pro Rookie Drivers of the year.
The Boumans were Pro Endruo points runners up in 2010 and with Saturday's victory they moved into first place in this season's standings.
"We were down a couple laps at different points. We tried to stay on the lead lap as much as we could. It's a small track so you could make up a lap if needed," said Bouman who raced on a slightly modified Polaris XC 600. The sled was outfitted with a Flannery motor and had a different suspension to accommodate for big bumps during the race, which Bouman said there were plenty of Saturday.
"This track was a lot shorter than what we're used to. There was so much ice, it was creating 12 foot bumps, probably the bumpiest track we've been on," he said. "That and we were always turning, you never had a chance to rest. Usually on straightaways you have a chance to relax a bit, stand up. All the turning wore you right out."
The lap disparity was significant. The Boumans won with a total time of three hours, 38 minutes,16.396, just 3.4 seconds ahead of second place finishers Grant and Cam Vermeersch. Only three teams completed all 500 laps. Three teams were at least 53 laps off.
The team of Issac Wolfgang and Josh Scmidt placed third but reached the race's top speed of 92 miles per hour and had the best lap time of 17.474.
The Boumans also raced in the Pro Open 600 final Friday evening with Eric taking fourth and Kevin placing fifth.
Pro Mod 600 Enduro - 1. Kevin/Eric Bouman, 3:38:16.396; 2. Grant/Cam Vermeersch, 3:38:19.881; 3. Issac Wolfgang/Josh Schmidt, 3:38:31.441
Semi Pro 600 Open - 1. Jon Giffel, 2:01.687; 2. Keith Gainforth, 2:08.479; 3. Bryan Ball, 2:10.557
Pro Open 600 - 1. Gary Moyle, 2:42.623; 2. Matt Ritchie, 2:44.741; 3. Grant Vermeersch, 2:48.947
Pro Champ 440 - 1. Gary Moyle, 2:40.292; 2. Matt Ritchie, 2:43.128; 3. Grant Vermeersch, 2:47.937
Limited 600 - 1. Cody Knutson, 2:09.564; 2. Tom Bell, 2:11.091; 3. John Bosek, 2:14.497 Limited 500 - Cody Knutson, 2:04.905; 2. Jon Giffel, 2:06.832; 3. Brent Vermeersch, 2:10.069
Semi Pro Stock 600 - 1. Kurt Russell, 5:14.884; 2. Matt Ryan, 5:15.102; 3. Charlie Wiltse, 5:19.525
Pro 600 Enduro Shootout - 1. Troy Dewald, 3:25.663; 2. Aaron Mayer, 3:26.151; 3. Larry Young, 3:26.754
Pro Am Enduro 1 - 1. Bryan Ball, 12:25.596; 2. Cam Vermeersch, 12:27.106; 3. Troy Dewald, 12:27.365
Semi Pro Enduro - 1. Josh Ware, 17:08.947; 2. Andy Shoemaker, 17:09.444; 3. Keith Gainforth, 17:09.704