Snowmobile Racing with Midwest International Racing Association

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    Cliff Duvernois: [00:00:00]  Hello everyone. Cliff DuVernois here. And welcome to the show. You know, when I was a kid, which was just a few days ago, one of the wintertime memories that I have is watching my dad take off every single year to this mythical land called up North to watch the snowmobile races in those ridiculously frigid.

    Temperatures while today, the Midwest International Racing Association holds events throughout Michigan and Wisconsin man versus machine versus a very cold nature. Ladies and gentlemen, please. Welcome to the show. The president of MIRA, Karl Schwartz. Karl, how are ya?

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:01:04] Well, Cliff, I really appreciate you guys giving us an opportunity to kind of talk about what we do here at, at MIRA.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:10] Excellent. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. So tell us a little bit about where you’re from. Where did you grow up?

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:01:14] Well, you know, I’m an actual native of the upper peninsula. It’s funny, you mentioned that I grew up in a little town called red yard, just 20 miles South of Sioux st. Marie and I, I came to the snowmobiling thing quite naturally. Cause back when I was a we’d lad, we actually had more snowmobiles in the community of Roger art of 800 people, I think, than we did automobiles. So as a, as a young kid, I might, my parents got the first a Ski-Doo snowmobile when I was eight years old. So I’ve been on a snowmobile and I’m now in my early sixties. So I’ve been snowmobiling my entire life as far back as I can remember.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:50] well, don’t hate me, but growing up, we had a Yamaha’s. So.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:01:54] That’s okay. We won’t hold it against you.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:01:56] Nice. And I don’t think it is. And I ran across this a lot when I was in Southern California. It always cracked me up, but I always thought that it was interesting that, you know, especially up at like in the UPC. And I know you see this sometimes in Wisconsin as well, but there are some days where the snow is just so bad.

    You just cannot get out and drive. I mean, the only way you get around is via snow machine.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:02:15] Yeah, that’s correct. That’s the way it was when I was growing up in the upper peninsula.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:02:19] Excellent. So how did you wind up now getting involved with the racing association?

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:02:25] I started off, as a racer, as a, as a young guy. Again, I mentioned we didn’t aspire to be football players or basketball players. We aspired to be Stoneville racers. We grew up in a small community that had per capita, quite a, quite a few, very, very good songs, erasers. So that was my childhood heroes. So I started racing when I was 18 or 19 years old and I actually professionally, for 38 years, I traveled the circuits and Canada all through, the U S the Northern States in the U S and participated in all of the professional classes.

    Back in the origins of it in the early eighties in stock racing, went into Enduro racing early in 1981. I did a stint in twin track racing, which at the time was called formula one, which was the premier, indie car version of a snowmobile. If you will. I erased that tour then on to formula three, then on to champ four 40, which these are all the top classes of the era and then back and forth in and out of Enduro racing.

    So I had a racing career that spanned 38 years and it did real well. I’d had a lot of fun and along the racing part of it, I, Got involved in the administrative part of the, of Myra organization and helped. And then also at one point even own day, large automobile dealership, some folks might remember my name from owning Saginaw power sports center in Saginaw.

    So I have been up to my eyeballs in snowmobiling, particularly racing, my, my, almost my entire life.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:04:02] Awesome. And so let me, so I, I’m just curious about this. How does one just become a professional snowmobile racer? I mean, do you do just one day, do you just say, Hey, you know what? I got a snowmobile, I’m now a racer. How does that work?

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:04:17] Well, that’s a great question because we get asked that actually, quite a bit and racing now has advanced so much in the vehicles, the caliber of vehicles, the costs, the speed.  it’s, it’s hard to imagine. what we race is a snowmobile. They, they look like that from the outward skin. But they’re highly customized, highly modified in high, in highly specialized.

    So if a person wanted to get into racing today, usually it’s because they know somebody who’s already in it and they have had some exposure to the sport, but let’s say they didn’t, they would come to a group like ours and we have, several different. Categories or classes of stolen meals that folks can race.

    And we would start them out on a, on a kitty cat. If you know what those are with the little kids starting off from two, three years old, going up to eight, nine years old, we actually can start them on a kitty cat and then move them on up to junior class, racing in the semi-pro racing. And then ultimately like I did end up hopefully is in a pro racing category.

    So there’s stepping stone classes. You grow as you go, you learn and as your skill level expands and hopefully as your budget expands, the goal would be to bring you in at the beginning and ultimately become a pro and dural race driver.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:05:38] And then from this, of course, cause now I’m, I’m thinking of the fact that if you’re out there racing all the time, you, you need to be at least good enough anyways, to make sure that you’re getting, getting those sponsorships winning cash prizes, to make sure that you’re able to pay your bills.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:05:53] Yeah. You know, most the folks that we know don’t go into this, to make any money. You mean, you hope that you can get a little bit back to help, help cover some of your expenses, but this is really a sport of passion. A sport of people do it for the love of the sport. I know you hear that a lot in sports, and there’s an old saying and many things, but particularly in racing, if you want to have a million dollars in racing, start with two And that kind of applies. So we typically, you know, this is not a big dollar sport. Although we spend big dollars, we don’t, Sue is low, lower purses, and we’re really a niche organization to do what we do, but we certainly have a lot of fun at it. And, my, I own a race team now and very, very serious about this.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:06:37] So when, when we talk about being very niche, what, like, if you’re holding an event like a race or whatever it is typically, how many people show up to hotel actually, why.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:06:48] We all have anywhere between on a low day, we could have, you know, on a bad weather day, weather really impacts whether people come out to want to stay on and watch the snowball race. The racers are racing unless there’s zero visibility from blowing in blinding snow. But assuming that we can see on the racetrack.

    If it’s cold and blustery, you might have a hundred people on a good day. We could have 4,000 people in the stands and any events as large as we’ll get into that. I’m sure a minute as the PSI 500 and Sue Saint Marie, the granddaddy of Enduro racing, there could be as many as 15,000 people.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:07:24] So, and actually let’s, let’s do talk about that. Cause I want to talk about the different types of racing that, that you guys cover. I mean, there’s, there’s the one type, whereas, you know, you’re just basically going around a track. And then I imagine that there’s probably other types of racing where you’re going out there for, you know, miles on a track.

    Talk to us a little bit about the different types of events that you have.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:07:46] Well, we are, we only raise what we call ice oval events in the world of snowmobile competition. There are several, I mean, they start in the summer with water crosses, believe it or not snowmobiles going across lakes and ponds, which I don’t quite understand. you’ll have brass dregs you’ll in the winter.

    You’ll have ice drag races, cross country races. Where they would go through lakes and side roads and trails. You have, snow cross racing, which I’m sure a lot of people have heard about. They have a national circuit for that. And then you have ice oval and Myra only produces, promotes and holds ice oval racing within the category of ice oval racing.

    We have, split into two different days. We’re on Saturday. We have what we call sprint races. And sprint races are where you have a variety of different snowmobiles that are, you can race in different classes, from, you know, slower, calmer, not as expensive to, you know, wild, full, modern machines. All racing in their individual categories from a standing start, the whole shot into the first corner from three laps to five laps and very fast, very intense days of racing.

    And that’s our Saturday format. And then, then Sunday, we have our Enduro racing, we call it, which is exactly what NASCAR does. With automobiles, but we do the same basic game was snowmobiles and it’s very similar format to NASCAR.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:09:19] So when you talk about being a similar format to NASCAR, are you talking, you know, a hundred laps, 200 laps, 300 laps.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:09:27] What we do, cliff is on Saturday morning. We qualified once again, much like NASCAR would do for starting position. And we, we set our grid from, the pole position on back to the final qualifier. And then on Sundays we have our pro dural that starts at one o’clock on a Sunday afternoon after we do, you know, our, our, pre-race ceremony on the front straightaway.

    And we raised 250 laps. On a half mile track. And we’ve actually now gone the, the three years ago to stage racing much like NASCAR does. So we’ll run that race and 60, 60, 60, and 70 lap segments. And that at the end of each segment, we throw a, what we call a competition, yellow, and then we groomed the track.

    And while the teams have, pitstops just like NASCAR. We have a pole position. We have a pit sled instead of I’m sorry, a pay sled instead of a pace car like NASCAR and it’s, it’s just, it’s this really fun, fun to watch.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:10:30] It sounds absolutely impressive. And when you talk about grooming the track, that’s because probably after, after 60 laps, the, the sleds have really torn up what snow is already there in place.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:10:42] Another good point. People think because we raised snowmobiles, we raised them on snow. We actually don’t. We raised these vehicles on, on ice tracks that start off that looked like a hockey rink, but

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:10:55] Oh, wow.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:10:56] typically like a horse track. If you’ve been to a fairgrounds, you would kind of know what a typical track looks like.

    We, before the race, of course, assuming that the weather cooperates. We put hundreds of thousands of gallons of water with big tanker trucks down, make lap after lap to flood these racetracks. So we can start anywhere between six and 18 inches of ice, depending on weather. And as we’re a very unique sport.

    And we’re one of the few sports, and maybe the only sport that I know of that actually consumes its racing surface with every lap that we go around the track. So, if you can imagine, what a snow cone as a kid, you had a snow cone or, shopped the ice, crushed ice. As those stolen wheels go around with the traction products under the skis and under the tracks to make them stick to the ice.

    They are shredding that layer of ice as they go. And the next thing you know, you’ve got piles of shredded ice, which looks like snow built up, and we have to plow that off to keep the racing fast and safe.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:12:00] exactly. Plow it off. Do you guys go back out there again and then just re ice the track way for it to freeze and then start the next set of laps.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:12:08] Nope. We start off with whatever we have at the beginning of the race at Sunday at one o’clock. And most certainly by the time we’re a two thirds or three quarters of the way through the race, you will see dirt showing that we’ll have actually wore out the ice and gone all the way down into the dirt and these sleds, we keep on going there in dural races for a reason.

    And it’s a, it is a test of man and machine and we fight the track and the changing con every lap that check track is changing. The bouncer, changing the CR the racing Gruver, the line is changing, and it’s a lot of strategy involved on the driver’s behalf.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:12:44] so let’s actually take a step back here. How did. How did Myra even get formed in the purse first place? What is, what is the history behind that?

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:12:53] Well, Myra was started in 1979 back kind of one. So Annville snowmobiling and Soma racing. Certainly it was really at a, at a heyday. It was a big deal back then. And of course, like anything you can get barstools and if you have two of them, somebody’s going to want to race them wanted to get involved in this thing, but there was no organization behind it.

    So a group of folks started Myra, what makes Myra unique? There are many things, but one of the things is that we are membership owned board of directors run, not for profit. So when this thing was set up 41 years ago, the idea was not to make any money, but to have a place to go that someone actually thought about what they were doing before everybody showed up and there was a real, a real need for it.

    And then the distances grew up. Actually back then we raised 500,  500 labs. We went 500, 250 miles on these tracks. 500 laps.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:13:55] Wow.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:13:55] Now we’re down to 250 laps. It’s really evolved over the years, but our group has been what we call club racing, but membership own. Your membership is a, you have a vote. If we have any issues, we need to vote on just like any other club organization.

    And the goal is not to make any money, but not to go broke and promote good, clean, safe, fun, affordable racing.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:14:20] And I can also imagine too, that one of the benefits of making some kind of an Aw, an organization that’s that’s, that’s like what? Myra is safety. Is also a concern, like, you know, let’s do something that helps to keep the drivers safe. Cause I could imagine probably until there’s some kind of an organization form,  you know, any kind of recent events that they had or probably just ad hoc show up and, you know, I guess whoever was still surviving at the end of the race actually wound up winning

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:14:46] Well, that’s right in the machines, you know, we’re, we’re not sophisticated back then nor was the safety protocols. And now, you know, safety is paramount on what, on what we do. And for example, now we require the drivers to wear a certain specification of helmet. We require that the drivers or riders were upper body torso protection, elbow protection, shin pad need protection, a good boot for foot and ankle protection, a good glove for hand protection, eye protection.

    These are all requirements. These snowmobiles now are fast and we have a tethered cords hope to the driver. If the driver comes off, it shuts the engine off.  so we’re, we’re very safe in how we let them race. Of course. you know, that is just very important than the racetracks. We. Any place we identify a potential hazard on the racetrack.

    We work to remove it, or we work to barricaded or protected. Should a driver ever make contact with it? There is certain risks, absolutely. In a sport like this, but believe it or not. And unfortunately in Michigan, I think Wisconsin numbers are about the same. we have 30 to 35 deaths a year on our Michigan snowmobile trails.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:01] Wow.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:16:02] And, and, and we have that numbers have been consistent for years and years and years, and we rarely, rarely have a catastrophic injury in Snellville racing. So I would argue to people that have asked me over the years, why would I do this? Especially for 38 years as a driver, I said, I feel a lot safer on a racetrack than I ever did on his full wheel trail.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:16:24] yeah. That’s I could definitely see why that would happen if you’re out on the snowmobile trail, you know, especially if you’re by yourself or whatever it is. If, if you got an accident, man, you’re, you’re out there and good luck getting cell phone service, you know, and especially, you know, if you take a trip back in time, 20 or 30 years, I could imagine it was even worse.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:16:40] Absolutely. You know, and then we’d go to some events and we do drug screening. We do alcohol screening, you know, we, we take this very seriously and, and I say on the trails, I’ve never seen a tree lose a battle with a snowmobile. And, you know, we are on a racetrack, we’re all going the same direction.

    We’re all organized. And we’re all in the class of a snowmobile that is competitive with the, with the same snowmobile and the, and the fellows that ride these things are just real professional. They’re very good at this.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:17:09] Oh, I bet. Absolutely bet it. Speaking of which, cause I know you said you’ve been racing for a long time and you know, this is kind of curious. I mean, I’ve, I’ve been on a snow machine quite a bit when I was a kid I haven’t done so lately as an adult, but why don’t you, why don’t you talk to us about what it’s like.

    To, to be a racer, to have these machines that have all that power, you know, literally at your fingertips. And there’s, you know, there’s literally nothing separating you from the air around you. I mean, you’re just, you’re just basically on a sled holding on for dear life. So talk to us a little bit about what that’s like.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:17:42] Well, I’m on top of that in order for a snow bill to go around a corner at the speeds that you carry, you use your body as you’re balanced as your counterbalance. So the sawmill of course stays flat to the ground. So you take your, your way. Your whole body is hum over the left side of the snowmobile. So you’re, you’re hanging onto the handlebars with your knee and in your hip, almost rubbing the ground, rubbing the ice to keep that Somo.

    So you can go around a left-hand turn.  we’re an automobile you’re strapped in the seat, in a snowmobile. You know, the driver input is, is incredible. What you can do just by changing your body position. But what a lot of folks will struggle with. And I think one of the hardest things to understand is, is the visibility.  when you have a helmet on and you close your visor for eye protection, in a way you go, the soul goes, you know, kick up a dust or we call it ice. Dustin. And if you’re behind that, one of the biggest challenges is a lot of times you’re kind of in a fog and you really have to have a sense of place.  set, feel it’s uncanny for a snowmobile racer that they can sense what’s around them, where they are on the track.

    Even if their visibility isn’t always that good. And of course, until they can break out of that, what we call dirty air and get up and get a better look. So it’s a, it’s a little nerve wracking. There’s a lot of faith in your fellow driver. The speeds are high and, but you know, when everybody’s going the same speed, you really don’t.

    That doesn’t really what gets ya. It’s, it’s the placement in the visibility to see well of what you’re going and what’s around you and the, and then the speed on the straightaways is fun. You can carry that kind of speed into the corner and we have really good brakes now, hydraulic some or even liquid cool brakes

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:19:29] Nice.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:19:30] and you just hang on and in a way you go.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:19:32] You know? Yeah. That brings up a good point. I mean, you guys don’t have any kind of like windshield wipers installed on the helmets or anything to keep them clean.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:19:39] What you do on the straightaway. You use your left hand, the index finger on your left hand. So as soon as you clear the corner where you can take a hand off the handlebar safely, you’ll see the drivers actually wiping their goggles or wiping their visors. If they were a visor system and try to wipe that bit of snow dust or moisture from the corner that they got maybe got sprayed with before they get down to the next corner. So yeah, they’re always trying to use their hand is there is actually their windshield wiper, their left left-hand.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:20:10] So for anybody in our audience, listening to the show, there’s your shark tank idea. Try to come up with some kind of windshield wipers with advisors.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:20:16] great.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:20:17] So let’s talk about, cause you know, we’re, we’re, we’re approaching the end of 2020 we’re we’re, you know, we’re going to be hitting your heyday here. And I know, I know you’ve got some events planned cause I’ve been on your website. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what’s what we can expect going into 20, you know, either the end of 20, 20 or 2021.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:20:35] Well, our race season will actually start on new year’s weekend of 2021. And so our seasons are always 20. This would be considered the 20, 21 season. Cause we go, you know, we lap into that into the new year. But we’re going to have our first event at the Kinross fairgrounds, Chippewa County fairgrounds in, in Ken Ross.

    Now Ken Ross is just South Sioux st. Marie, right near the little town of Rudyard where I’m from and North of the Mackinaw bridge, about 40 minutes and South of Sioux st. Marie, maybe 20 minutes. It’s a beautiful fairground facility there. Nice big wide half mile track. And we’ll be there on December 2nd for the sprint race program.

    And I’m sorry, just January 2nd. And then January 3rd for the pro Enduro little start at one o’clock and that race is going to be sponsored. We are, as I mentioned a not-for-profit so we do. Everything with, with donations of time, energy and of treasury. And in this case, this race is sponsored by the, a bunch of Eastern upper prints and merchants got together in this.

    This race will be called the, EUP merchants two 50 and there’s 10 different business people that got together to help raise some money to bring us back to Ken Ross. So we’re excited about that. Then, then we have a really big announcement of the first time ever. We are going to be going to Eagle river, Wisconsin.

    Now Eagle river, Wisconsin is known in the Midwest is one of the meccas of Stonewall racing. And then Eagle river is what’s called the world championship Derby facility. They call it the world championship Derby track. And for the first time, Myra is going to be racing for eight, the first ever pro Inderal world championship. And it’s kind of our R series is Daytona 500 here where we’re racing for a world championship. The second race in it’s a big deal. We’ve been invited to come over there by the owners of the racetrack. And that will be, January 16th and 17th. And the, our event, the final, the, the main event will be the 17th at 3:00 PM on a Sunday.

    In Eagle river, Wisconsin in our group. Let me tell you, there’s really, really pumped up about this,

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:22:49] Sweet.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:22:50] that then we come home back to back, back to Michigan. We’re in Gaillard for the second time. This year we went last year. The first time to the fairgrounds in Gaylor, it was well received, even though we really struggled with the weather.

    We had such a soft winter. We’ll be there on the 23rd and 24th of. January, we do not have a title sponsor for that ratio. We struggle a little bit with that one and that race is actually going to be held, right along I 75, which is exciting right across the street from the old Jay’s sporting goods on that first Gaillard exit.

    And, we’re excited about that race. To show everybody in the middle of Michigan at our lower print insula. That’s our you hotspot.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:23:36] Sure.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:23:36] It’s a great spot for Myra Myra to be involved in. Then we take the next week off for the PSI 500 race. Now the SU I 500 is been around a long time. I think 50 years now they’ve been running the sewer more.

     I actually participated in 28 of them as a driver. And we’d take that weekend off. That is not a Myra event, but the vast majority of the field up there will be Myra racers. And that is February the sixth. On Saturday. That’s a 500 mile race on a one mile iced oval track. That’ll take eight and a half hours. You want to talk about a grueling grueling event? that’s the one

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:24:17] Yeah.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:24:18] come back from the PSU with whatever’s left and most of us.  Enduro race teams have dedicated vehicles just for that race. So we race a different style or a different configuration of snowmobile on a half mile track. Then we do a one mile track kind of like what NASCAR does with shorter tracks, intermediate tracks.

    So super speedways. Most teams have a, what we call short tracks or half mile track race LED’s in the one mile track. So we’ll pull out our half mile sleds again, and we go to Carroll, Michigan. On the 13th and 14th of February, which is of course we consider that our home track. If you live down here in Southeast Michigan, that’s as close to homeless, we get, and then we finish up our season and then back in Kara we’re right in, right in town, in the, in the fairgrounds, right in the middle of the, of the community there.

    So a lot of fun. And then we finish our season in Lincoln, Michigan. On the 20th and 21st of February. And that Lincoln is the elk Kona County fairgrounds, just South of Alpina. It’s a little community called Lincoln and man is at a great place to race. It’s a natural train stadium type of a setup there.

    It’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen, where the, the Hills on the sides, slope down to the racetrack below. So the vantage point, there’s not a bad seat in the house. We get thousands of people show up for that event. It’s a five, eight smile track. It’s a big fat, fast, flat racetrack. And any driver you ask, what’s their favorite track to race on?

    They will tell you it’s Lincoln, Michigan.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:25:53] Sweet. That’s awesome.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:25:55] Gosh, this’ll be the most intense race schedule we’ve had in and probably 20 years for us to run five races. Plus an I 500 is, really, really intense for a pro Enduro racing team.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:26:08] Yeah, no doubt, because I can imagine most of the time throughout the year, they’re not too much thinking about racing on a sled until the snow hits.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:26:17] Well, actually, that’s not quite exactly how it works at, for example, my team, we, we’re a Applebee’s sponsored Polaris sponsor, swollen wheel team. We actually run our operation 11 months a year. So one February when March 1st comes around, we’ll take, usually we’ll take the months of March off and then we start rebuilding and building new snowmobiles.

    April 1st.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:26:41] I get it now. Okay. For some reason, I thought you guys were racing throughout the summertime. I’m like, where are you guys going to North pole? I get it now. So you’re building.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:26:49] in the shops. A lot of weekends in the summer, tearing things apart, planning our new season, working on what we’re going to do different than what we did, celebrating our successes and, and, you know, focusing on what we didn’t like. And I mean, like say my team, we come together 11, 11 months a year.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:27:05] So, let me ask you a question here, because I know that, you know, and you kind of mentioned before you were talking about different kinds of configurations for the snowmobiles that you guys use. I mean, as it just, I mean, as, as something that you just walk into your, you know, your Polaris dealership and be like, yeah, give me, give me that snow machine there.

    And then you go out and run. And if you, if you are modifying them, where do you get the parts? Is there like a snowmobile racing store that you go to or do you build them yourself?

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:27:30] Well, that’s another great question, cliff. There’s a whole combination of that. So again, I’m speaking specifically about the pro Inderal meaning event that Myra puts on those snowmobiles have to be based as a production based snowmobile. And what’s interesting. Each one of the manufacturers produces what they call their super sport snowmobile.

    And it’s a designated race sled, primarily used for snow cross racing. So we take those snowmobiles. They have to be a production-based vehicle, and then we highly modify them from what they originated as a snow cross snowmobile into an ice oval snowmobile. So that’s our, that’s our starting platform. And then from there we changed the front suspensions.

    We change the sway bars. We changed rear suspensions. We do a different style of track, rubber track than the snow cross guys do. We run different gas tanks, different skis. we do different things to our hoods. Our windshields, our handlebars are drastically different. We run quick fill gas tanks like NASCAR does.

    So your gas man plugs the bottle in and fills you out a gallon a second, just like they do.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:28:42] That’s awesome.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:28:43] So the shock packages are drastically, dramatically different. So when we’re done with these things, they would look. Like a Polaris or a ski or already cat, but under the hood and, and, and the components are, are highly, must slash modified in money of them expensive.

    And where are we get these parts? There is a, there are several aftermarket manufacturers of racing parts that we would go to. Plus the new manufacturers. Oftentimes we’ll produce, parts of, for each racing discipline to modify these vehicles to however you’re using them. So it’s a combination. And then other things we make ourselves, depending on, if it’s, you know, within our set of rules,

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:29:24] Sure man. It’s print ads. That’s actually pretty awesome that the manufacturers they themselves are getting involved.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:29:30] Yeah. And we’d like to see them involve more, but, but they, they do give us contingency money. If you do, you know, certain placements on a, let’s say you write a players and your first, second, third, you know, they’ll sweeten the purse a little bit and they will provide components. They’ll provide some directions based on their testing.

    A lot of this we’re on our own. I mean in my team, for example, we have full machine shop services that support us. And, yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re always scheming and thinking and inventing and trying, and that’s kind of the fun of it. I think it really allows your people on your team to be creative. And our rules are liberal enough that we let you do things, but yet we reign in on, on certain other things.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:30:12] now when you’re going out there and you’re, especially when you talk about like, sometimes you guys are even like creating. Custom parts. you know, obviously if you’re modifying these machines, you’re getting off spec you’re, you know, you go out there and you race them or you try them out. What is it that, what is it that makes you come back and say, you know what?

    We modified that part. And you know, none of the machine is worse or the machine is down better, whatever it is. How, what does that iterative process do you guys go through?

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:30:37] well, a lot of the times it will be whether or not we had a part that will fail. I mean, it could be as something as simple, great example. Last year we were in a race and we were in needle rivers. Matter of fact, before it became a world championship race, and we were running at the front of the pack and we had a silly thing, like a fuel vent.

    Just a little toggle switch. You turn to vent your fuel. When you’re filling your race. Tech come out of the gas tank. I mean, this is a $6 part, and that that came out of the fuel tank and dose. The driver was with fuel during the race caused us to come in for an unscheduled pit stop. Of course not to mention the safety concern we had in now this year, we looked at that and we said that was a fail.

    So we, redesigned how we invent our fuel tank. I mean, that’s just one example and there are hundreds of those examples, but the other way we can tell is of course, how well did you do if you weren’t fast enough, do you need to look at your motor? If you did not handle and turn well enough, maybe you’re gonna put your energy and your focus on your chassis.

    You’re handling your shock package, your chest, the package more than you are your, your engines. If you’re happy with your engines. But it’s just, again, I go back to the NASCAR comparison where they have engine shops and chassis shops. We, we aren’t that sophisticated, but we have those programs within our SolGold program.

    Believe me, in my case, I send engines to Minnesota to have them modified, and we do our own, our own chassis work in my shop.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:32:03] man. That’s totally awesome. I think I could sit here and pick your brain for the rest of your day. This is, this is really cool. If anybody’s listening to this episode and they want to follow what Myra is doing, they want to learn more about the events coming up. Maybe they want to, you know, come on out either to Lincoln or to kero, what would be the best way for them to connect with you online?

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:32:23] Oh, that’s great. we, we have Myra, M I R a racing.com is our, is our webpage. And matter of fact, it’s going to get a bunch of updates,  very shortly, but our, our 21 schedules on that,  another way to do that is on our phone. Public Facebook page, which is my racing, Facebook. And if they wanted, for an example to follow most of the major race teams in the pro Enduro have their own public Facebook pages like mine is Karl Schwartz racing, Karl with a K.

    They can follow our team along in the journey that we take from start to finish and weekly updates and, and what we’d love to see anybody who has an interest. I think we’re one of the best kept secrets in winter, motor sports. But our, our, we’re getting a lot of attention placed on us the last couple of years, since we’ve gone to stage racing and some of these other venues haven’t done as well, but one of our biggest challenges is just, it’s just been climate change.

    we need cold weather. We don’t need snow, but we need cold weather to make ice. And our single biggest challenge anymore is climate change. And we just don’t get the winter weather that we used to get to make these racetracks. And it’s, it’s been a real challenge for us.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:33:34] Well, basically everything that’s happened with, you know, these stay at home orders and COVID-19 and stuff. I hope you get what you want this year because people just need to get out, you know, I need to get out. So.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:33:46] And we’re looking forward to a great year. We hope COVID, isn’t gonna, you know, spoil our fun and we’re planning on race and full steam ahead. Everybody’s in full racing mode right now. Believe me. And, yeah, we’re, we’re, we’re hoping to get this 20 behind us. Everybody is and move on to a much, much better look in 2021.

    And our, our group is no exception to that.

    Cliff Duvernois: [00:34:06] Amen, brother. I appreciate that, Karl. Thank you so much for being on the show today. I do appreciate it.

    Karl Schwartz, MIRA: [00:34:12] Enjoy the cliff. Thanks to all the people listening. 

    About The Host

    About The Host

    Cliff Duvernois

    Cliff is the host of “The Call of Leadership” podcast.  He has published over 500 short stories over Facebook, Medium and LinkedIn.  He is a passionate lifelong learner, marketer and philanthropist.  He currently lives in Reese, Michigan with his fiancé Sherry and her two children.

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