Caught in a fog: Final day of snocross wiped out

A steady line of trucks and trailers streamed down the hill from Spirit Mountain early Sunday afternoon, a procession of dejection.The final day of the 25th annual Amsoil Duluth National Snocross was called off due to fog.Richard Lundquist was wi...

Chase Thielen and Stephanie Johannes, both of Pike Lake, load up clothing racks early Sunday afternoon outside the chalet at Spirit Mountain after the final day of Snocross was canceled due to fog. They had been selling FXR clothing and racing gear. (Bob King /

A steady line of trucks and trailers streamed down the hill from Spirit Mountain early Sunday afternoon, a procession of dejection.
The final day of the 25th annual Amsoil Duluth National Snocross was called off due to fog.
Richard Lundquist was with a group of four trudging on foot back to their car, adding a little insult to injury. While everyone wanted to see another round of the highly modified Pro Open class, it carried more weight with Lundquist and his friends, who came all the way from Sweden for the event.
Lundquist, wearing the signature green and black colors of Arctic Cat from head to toe, is an Arctic Cat and Polaris dealer in Arvidsjaur, Sweden, near the Arctic Circle. He attended the Duluth National in 2012, ’13 and ’14, and while it has been cloudy, there was never the pea soup fog of Sunday.
Still, Lundquist put a positive spin on it.
“It’s a little disappointing, but at least we got to see some good racing on Saturday and Friday,” he said.
Race officials took a similar approach.
Jeremy Meyer, race and events manager for Amsoil, joked he was able to watch some football with his afternoon freed up. He said the decision to call the event was made during a riders meeting at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
“Everybody was in favor of shutting it down,” Meyer said. “They were concerned about safety. That was the main factor.”
With temperatures in the high 30s, fog was thick in the morning. It cleared out a little bit, only to come back. It was better in the afternoon, but by that time, it was too late. They need about four hours to stage a condensed version of the event, and Musco Lighting, which handles the lighting for Friday and Saturday nights, had already pulled out.
The Duluth National, an annual Thanksgiving weekend tradition, has been postponed three times in its 25 years, in 1999, 2001 and 2009, while the final day has been cut short due to fog three times, 1998, 2005 and this year. While being located atop the hill and away from the lake is a benefit in terms of snow, it can be a drawback in terms of fog.
Visit Duluth loves having the event on Thanksgiving weekend because it is otherwise a slow tourism weekend as the area transitions from the fall to winter seasons.
Meyer was asked if there was a possibility of scheduling the event later.
“It gets discussed all the time, but I think tradition wins out on this one,” Meyer said. “In 25 years, you’ve only had a couple fog outs and a couple postponements. The track record is pretty good on that.”
Carl Schubitzke, a 1999 Proctor graduate who is president of the sport’s sanctioning body, the International Series of Champions, said Sunday’s featured event, the second round of Pro Open, likely will be made up at a future event, possibly the Jan. 6-7 series stop in Shakopee, Minn.
Schubitzke said fans and racers were fortunate to get two days of racing in after temperatures were in the 60s two weeks ago, even hitting 70 on Nov. 5.
“We lucked out even being able to have it,” Schubitzke said. “If that cold front hadn’t come through last weekend, we wouldn’t be here, for sure. The flip side of the weather is the fog. That fog bank just wouldn’t leave. It was dense. That’s why we all met at 12:30. We had been there for, like, four-and-a-half hours, and it hadn’t lifted yet, so that was it.”
The Swedish group didn’t sound deterred from attending the Duluth National again. The Amsoil Championship Snocross national tour features eight stops, but Duluth is special. It’s the only one they’ve attended, and as the kickoff event, it sets the tone for the rest of the season. Fans get to see which race teams did their homework in the offseason, and which riders are the ones to beat. It’s where stars are born.
Polaris riders Petter Narsa and his girlfriend, Elina Ohman, both of Sweden, were local favorites among Lundquist’s group. Ohman won the Pro Am Women’s class on Friday. Lundquist and Co. fly back today. They said it’s always a “good weekend from the other side of the world.”
“We always have a good time here,” Lundquist said. “It’s fun just to hang around with the snowmobile crowd, and now that we’ve been here a few times, we’ve learned our way around.”
Duluth snocross rider Bobby LePage had a good weekend in the veterans class, taking third and fourth in the Pro Am Plus finals on his Polaris.
Polaris rider Iain Hayden of Holland Centre, Ontario, swept the finals.
LePage, 32, races for Cottew Motorsports based out of Lake Nebagamon.

Jon Nowacki joined the News Tribune in August 1998 as a sports reporter. He grew up in Stephen, Minnesota, in the northwest corner of the state, where he was actively involved in school and sports and was a proud member of the Tigers’ 1992 state championship nine-man football team.

After graduating in 1993, Nowacki majored in print journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, serving as editor of the college paper, “The Aquin,” and graduating with honors in December 1997. He worked with the Associated Press during the “tobacco trial” of 1998, leading to the industry’s historic $206 billion settlement, before moving to Duluth.

Nowacki started as a prep reporter for the News Tribune before moving onto the college ranks, with an emphasis on Minnesota Duluth football, including coverage of the Bulldogs’ NCAA Division II championships in 2008 and 2010.

Nowacki continues to focus on college sports while filling in as a backup on preps, especially at tournament time. He covers the Duluth Huskies baseball team and auto racing in the summer. When time allows, he also writes an offbeat and lighthearted food column entitled “The Taco Stand,” a reference to the “Taco Jon” nickname given to him by his older brother when he was a teenager that stuck with him through college. He has a teenage daughter, Emma.

Nowacki can be reached at or (218) 380-7027. Follow him on Twitter @TacoJon1.
What To Read Next
Get Local