The 55th Annual World Championship Snowmobile Derby hits the track this weekend at the Derby Track in Eagle River, WI. Owned and operated by the Decker family, the racing history is prevalent at every turn. Chuck Decker focused on snowmobiling racing and claimed a World Championship of his own in 1987. His daughter Natalie briefly dabbled in the snowmobile world, but chose to focus on her asphalt career and has a full-time ARCA Series ride this year.
However, there are a few drivers who make the jump back and forth between the snow and the blacktop. Among those drivers is a pair of Wisconsin racer who will look to make their mark this weekend in Eagle River.
Cardell Potter looks to win a second World Championship, while Jeff Storm hopes to make the field in his first snowmobile start at the Derby Track.
“At Eagle River, I am looking forward to having a sled that can be competitive, and building on what we have had the last three years there,” Potter told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “Hopefully we have normal weather conditions again since the last two years have been less than ideal; one year being below zero, and then last year in the upper 40’s. There’s always a great fan turnout and I’m looking forward to seeing many of the fans who come out and watch and help cheer us all on.”
“I have always wanted to race snowmobiles,” Storm stated. “When I was a kid, my dad did it and it has been a passion ever since.”
Potter has been snowmobile racing for 22 years and has a lengthy snowmobile resume that includes a 2015 World Championship as well as a 2015 TRL Cup Championship. The veteran racer knows what it takes to get it done on Sunday at the Derby track and nothing would be more special than to bring home another title. He will be competing in Friday Night Thunder, the TLR Cup races, and the World Championship on Sunday.
“Winning the championship was an incredible moment, one that I will never forget and always cherish,” Potter said. “It still amazes me after being knocked down again and again that weekend, having the sled catch on fire, wreaking and then starting from the back row not knowing if I would even make the race to finding myself competing for the title. To win it you must have consistency. Winning such a big race like the WC, it drives you to push yourself past your limits, with the hope of being able to win another.”
Meanwhile, Storm will hop on his No. 25 sled for the F500 classes. In his competitive racing debut, Storm finished third in his heat race at Tomahawk Speedway (WI) before the features were canceled due to weather conditions. This will be the first trip, as a driver, to the World Championships for the Waterford, WI racer.
“For Eagle River, my goal is to just be in the final events that I have entered,” Storm said. “We are just looking forward to competing at such a historic event. I just hope to stay safe and have some fun, winning would be a huge bonus.”
Potter and Storm were both regulars in the ARCA Midwest Tour and have found success in their asphalt careers. While not much can transfer from a Super Late Model to a snowmobile, both say there are a few things they can take away.
“Snowmobile racing has some comparisons as far as the best lines to run,” Storm explained. “Other than that, not very much. It’s very physical, you have to be in good shape and the jury is still out as far as if I’m in good enough shape.”
“There are a lot of differences between the two and little that is the same,” Potter claimed. “Ice oval racing is much more intense and busy than Late Model racing. Snowmobile racing brings more stress for the entire crew and myself than Late Model racing. I really have to focus on the track with sled racing, and watch what grooves work best, and how the ice conditions may be changing. General racing concepts such as handling and setting up passes are about the only thing that carries over between the two.”
Fans can watch both Potter and Storm compete at the Eagle River Derby Track this weekend live via a FREE broadcast on Speed51.com.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: Tom Loos