Snodeo recognizes volunteers, sponsor
Plach Automotive, Besaw family receive plaques
By James Card
Plach Automotive and the Besaw family were recognized for their years of sponsorship and service for the Manawa Snodeo.
David Sarna, executive director, presented Dan Plach with a plaque for 2023 Sponsor of the Year and a plague to the Besaw family as 2023 Volunteer of the Year during a meeting at Cedar Springs Golf Course.
“Plach Automotive has been a sponsor since it started 16 years ago. Each year it just gets bigger and bigger. We put banners up at the dealership to promote it. Everybody talks about the Snodeo. It’s hard to describe the experience of the Snodeo unless you are there. There is so much action going on. There are people from all over. And the array of people. There are young people and there are people that are 80 to 95 years old. That’s why I keep sponsoring it. Everybody is having a good time,” said Dan Plach.
“This is the only event like this around with four different tracks on one lake at the same time. I’ve talked to several people from Minnesota—they don’t have anything like this,” said Roger Besaw.
The Snodeo has four tracks: the Oval, the Lake Cross, the Radar Run and the Kitty Kat track for children. The Oval track should have about 400 racers this year and its part of the U.S. Snowmobile Association Pro Star Cup Series. It’s the NASCAR circuit of snowmobile racing. More Canadian racers are expected this year now that COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
For years the Besaw family has overseen the operation of the Radar Run track, a straightaway drag strip that stretches out for a 1,000 feet. The fastest time clocked for a snowmobile was 147 miles per hour. Racers wear a helmet and a safety vest and are connected to a tether switch. If they fall off, it kills the engine.
The Besaw clan of volunteers is composed of brothers Roger and Glen Besaw; Ryan Besaw (Roger’s son), Sara Besaw (Roger’s daughter), Stephanie Besaw (Glen’s daughter) and Tiffany Schuh, a family friend.
“We mostly pray for ice and plow the track off. We have an ice shaver and take off the roughness. Through the day we broom them off,” said Glen. They also set up hay bales to define the track and create a buffer for spectators.
“You just do like a police officer would do: you have a radar gun at one end and you get their top speed,” said Ryan. He jots down the times in a notebook and holds it out so the driver can see it when he swings back around to the staging area.
“He’s the police officer. He sits in the truck with the radar gun,” said Roger.
The Radar Run is a one-day event for snowmobiles. The next day vehicles from the Merrill Ice Drags use the track.
Visitors come by car but also through the county-wide network of snowmobile trails.
“At any given time you can see over a 150 snowmobiles parked. The field across from Bear Lake is loaded with cars. It’s like going to the mall,” said Roger. “You look down at Bear Lake and it’s just packed with people.”