Thousands of snowmobile enthusiasts invaded ERX Motor Park in Elk River, Minnesota, from Jan. 24-26 to celebrate the new home of the Midwest Ride-In, the largest antique, vintage and classic snowmobile event in the world.
The three-day event attracted participants and spectators from as far away as British Columbia, Maine and Texas, and showcased the world-class facilities at the near 500-acre park. A celebration of the roots of the sport, the event featured antique, vintage and classic snowmobiles ranging from dusty barn find relics to meticulously restored rarities and everything in between.
This year marked the 30th anniversary of the Ride-In, which was previously held in Waconia, Minnesota for the last 25 years. This past summer, Midwest Vintage Snowmobile Shows (MWVSS), an all-volunteer, non-profit committee and the driving force behind the Ride-In, selected ERX as the event’s new home.
“We were looking for more than just a venue,” said Ride-In co-chair Mitchell Edwards. “With ERX we also found a partner to help us grow the Ride-In moving forward.”
For long-time Ride-In participants and first-timers alike, the new location was a home run. With riding snowmobiles an integral part of the weekend’s activities, the sprawling ERX complex and its spider web of trails was ideal. With sufficient snow and perfect weather, riders were out in droves exploring the groomed trails, visiting the swap meet, watching races and socializing around a massive bonfire and bar tucked away trailside amongst the rolling hardwoods. The Saturday morning Jack Speckel Trail Ride had over 650 vintage sleds participate in the five-plus mile parade lap.
“Easily the most fun we’ve had at an ERX event,” said Heidi Goodin, business manager for ERX. “There were people and old snowmobiles everywhere and everyone was smiling. I think it really is the perfect partnership. We’re already working on plans with the committee (MWVSS) for next year.”
More than just riding, the Midwest Ride-In included a sprawling swap meet outside and an impressive sled display inside where this year’s featured Winnipeg to St. Paul International 500 cross-country racing theme came to life. Attendees could also bid on an endless array of silent auction items and purchase Ride-In collectibles. In the evening, a sold-out catered banquet, with guest speakers and dignitaries, capped-off Saturday’s activities.
Sunday’s focus turned to show sleds as one of the most prestigious and best-attended judged snowmobile shows that attracted hundreds of collectors and their snowmobiles. On the ERX regional track, the Minnesota One Lunger Racing group held a 90-minute endurance race for vintage snowmobiles. Kids Pro Ice completed their two full days of oval racing for kids 4-12 on a pond expanded just for the Ride-In.
By the close of the weekend, it was apparent the new home for the Midwest Ride-In will be an ERX Motor Park signature event for years to come. “We (MWVSS) like to measure event success in SMILES and it was obvious to anyone in attendance this year was a smashing success. We really are thrilled to have a partner like ERX moving forward,” said Edwards.
Next year’s event is scheduled for Jan. 29-31, 2021, with the feature being Triple-Plus Cylinders.