Lake Linden wraps up great weekend of watercross racing

Watercross racer takes sharp turn on Torch Lake.
Watercross racer takes sharp turn on Torch Lake.(Tyler Markle)
Published: Aug. 23, 2020 at 8:31 PM EDT
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After a nearly 20 year absence, professional watercross racing has returned to the Upper Peninsula. Torch Lake was the site of three great days of racing this weekend.

The International Watercross Association brought racers from all over the Midwest to Lake Linden this weekend. If you're not familiar with the sport, it can be easily described as snowmobiles on the water.

“You could almost take a stock snowmobile these days and turn it into a water skipper that works very well,” said Neil Marietta Jr., a watercross racer and one of the event organizers. “I mean we have a snowmobile that basically all that’s been done to it is the seat is off of it and it has a small sealed gas tank on it. That’s it, and it works well.”

According to racers, the differences between snow and water, are pretty obvious.

“I mean obviously you can’t just stop on the water because you’ll sink,” said James Marietta, a professional racer. “I race snowmobiles in the winter as well, so it’s totally two different animals.”

Some racers this weekend are old enough to remember the last time professional watercross was in the U.P.

“I’ve been involved with watercross for probably 27 years now,” said Neil Marietta Jr. “We used to race down in Baraga, I think a lot of people remember that. That was actually the last race that I raced watercross, was in Baraga.”

They've even got their kids involved now.

“Racing truly is a family sport,” said Neil Marietta Jr. “It brings us all together for weekends where you normally wouldn’t be.” “It’s one of the sports out of all the different racing that he and I have done that we both compete in and it’s fun to race together,” said James Marietta. “Like Friday night we got to actually race each other for the first time, so that was fun.”

According to event organizers and industry professionals, this weekend’s races were an absolute success, and Lake Linden could become a frequent stop on the circuit.

“I’ve seen a lot of people come and go in the sport and this weekend, there’s been over a dozen people that have come up to me that I used to race with back in the 80′s and 90′s up here to see this,” said Jeff Fischer, host of the YouTube show ‘Sledhead 24/7’. “I could see this turning into a go to place for the sport.”

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