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Winnipeg I-500: The Grand-Daddy Cross-Country Begins

Legend of the Winnipeg I-500.

At 10am Wednesday morning, Feb. 7, 82 brave men and women will begin leaving the starting line on the outskirts of Winnipeg to embark on the 2017 USXC I-500.

It is the most fabled cross-country race in the world; it’s origins going back to 1966 when a few dozen pioneers rumbled out of this very town, on their way to St. Paul, Minn.

There’s some special, something magical about snowmobile racers barreling down a ditchline, chasing the snow dust in front of them while they chase the dream of making to the finish line.

Legends are made in races like the I-500. We revere names like Cormican, Lindblad, Nelson, Wolff, Hibbert, Pake, Struthers, Dyrdahl and Dick because of their having conquered this beast.

But the beauty of this race goes far, far beyond the winners.

It’s greatest beauty, as well as its grace, is that it’s always been a race for the common man and woman; the once-a-year or even once-a-lifetime racer who scrapes together the money and the time away from work and life in order to fulfill a dream.

Within this circus comprised of the racers, crew, spectators and race officials, there will be thrills, breakdowns, controversy, extraordinary talent, frustration, drama, heartbreak, and achievement. And there will be triumph…not just for the victor, but for everyone who puts themselves into the arena.

I wish the very best to the 82 racers whose sleds are staged on the starting line as I write these words, as well as for the 20 or so additional Junior class racers who will run on the final day from Thief River Falls to Bemidji.

To me, you’re all winners.

Thanks for reading.

2017 USXC I-500 Start List

2017 USXC I-500 Start List


Brad Pake wins the 1996 Winnipeg I-500. Photo by

Wayne Rowland in the 1966 I-500

Wayne Konickson, I-500.


Winnipeg I-500 photo by C.J. Ramstad

Jon Carlson, Enduro Team Deere

Snowmobile Week magazine

Wayne Rowland in the I-500



  1. John….appreciate the coverage on a truly the most historical test of driver ability, focus and preparation. Best of luck to all of the drivers and crews. I look forward to recognizing the winners Friday evening in Bemidji. JRC

  2. Is so awesome that Brian and his USXC crew finally had the snow to return this race to it’s roots in Winnipeg! Looking forward to seeing more images and hearing all the stories after the race concludes…it’ll be just like the old days awaiting my issue of Snow Week magazine to arrive after a big event.

  3. Standing by the start line this morning sure brought back a lot of memories of the I-500 back in the 70’s. It was -32 this morning when the riders began leaving the starting line for Thief River Falls. Good luck to all the racers.


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