CLEAR LAKE | Mother Nature is finally cooperating with one of Clear Lake’s popular outdoor events.
The Jack Helgren Memorial Race, which draws hundreds of individuals from the region who ride, race and show their snowmobiles, returns Friday and Saturday.
“It’s just a neat event to get people out of the house and out on the ice in the wintertime,” said John Helgren, one of the event’s organizers and the late Jack Helgren’s son. “It’s one of the cures for cabin fever.”
Last month, the two-day event, also known as “The Jack,” was postponed due to unseasonable temperatures and poor ice conditions that couldn’t accommodate the snowmobilers — and spectators — who not only race but park on the lake’s ice.
According to the National Weather Service, Friday will be mostly sunny, cold and blustery with a high near 1 degree, and Saturday will be mostly sunny with a high near 12 in North Iowa.
“We had some warmer weather over the weekend, but it’s freezing back up really nice,” said Gary McVicker, one of the event’s organizers.
The memorial race — in its 10th year — is named after Jack Helgren, an area businessman, former snowmobile dealer and avid racer who died in 2009.
The event begins Friday with registration at Rumorz Bar & Grill, 1210 S. Shore Drive, in Clear Lake and a snowmobile ride around the lake. Registration is from 6 to 9 p.m.
It continues Saturday at Clear Lake State Park, 6490 S. Shore Drive, with:
- Registration: 7 to 8 a.m.
- Le Mans practice and drivers’ meeting: 8:10 a.m.
- Opening ceremonies and parade lap: 9 a.m.
- Radar runs: 9:05 a.m.
- Le Mans racing: 10 a.m.
- Kitty Kat and 120 racing
- Vintage show featuring decades-old restored, unrestored, cutter, youth, mini and race sleds: All day
McVicker said there is racing for all ages. Spectators are encouraged to attend. Parking is available at Clear Lake State Park or on the ice.
Saturday night the event concludes with an awards ceremony at 7 p.m. at Best Western Holiday Lodge, 2023 Seventh Ave. N., in Clear Lake, and live music from Split Second Band.
“Everybody who’s come has had a really good time,” McVicker said, noting the event is based off racing that occurred in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s in the area.
During the awards ceremony, a 1975 Ski-Doo TNT 440 F/A, donated by John Helgren for the event’s 10th anniversary, will be auctioned off for charity.
Since The Jack started, it’s been able to donate proceeds to the Winnebago Honor Flight, Clear Lake Restoration Project, American Cancer Society, Clear Lake Chamber fireworks, Patriots for Pets, Opportunity Village and area snowmobiling organizations.
“It was originally going to be a one-year event and now here we are 10 years later,” John Helgren said. “We appreciate the support from our sponsors and the community.”
The event is made possible each year by more than 50 volunteers, who will begin prepping the ice on Thursday, McVicker said.
“I’m sure Jack is up there looking down on us and smiling,” he said. “If he was around, he’d be out there with us showing us how it’s done.”
In 1965, Jack Helgren started North Iowa Tire Company and House of Sports, where he was in business for 44 years until his illness. John Helgren owns the House of Sports today.
For more information about the event, visit www.thejackrace.com.
• Photos: The Jack 2018 at Clear Lake