Sleds Across the Portage: Clean Snowmobile Challenge Kicks Off Tuesday with Ride to Baraga

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

The 10th annual SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge kicks off Tuesday, March 17, with a trail ride to Baraga via the Portage Lake Lift Bridge.

"Everyone is invited to come and cheer on the participants," said organizer Jay Meldrum. "These young engineers have put in many months building these sleds, and this is a chance to find out first-hand how clean and quiet their snowmobiles really are."

Sleds designed and built by university students from across North America will head out from Michigan Technological University's Keweenaw Research Center following the 11 a.m. grand opening ceremonies. The 100-mile Endurance Run tests the overall reliability of the entries, which will be running on flex-fuel for the first time this year.

Set for March 16-21, the Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Engineering students from participating schools take a stock snowmobile and reengineer it. Their aim: to reduce emissions and noise while maintaining or boosting performance.
The 11 snowmobiles in the Challenge's internal combustion division will set out for the Portage Lift Bridge via Mason, crossing on the lower level sometime between 12:30 and 1 p.m. and then taking the trail along Lakeshore Drive toward Houghton's Ray Kestner Waterfront Park.

They will then take Trail 3 to Twin Lakes and Mass City, travel southeast on Trail 109, and arrive in Baraga on Trail 8/15.

All of the team members will be hosted for lunch at the Press Box Restaurant at the Ojibwa Casino.

The public is also welcome at several other events during the Clean Snowmobile Challenge. On Wednesday, March 18, between 6 and 8 p.m., all the teams will have their snowmobiles on exhibit at the Copper Country Mall. Everyone is invited to stop by and chat with the students about their strategies and innovations.

On Saturday, March 21, the public is welcome at the Polaris Acceleration and Handling event, set for 10 and 11 a.m. at the Keweenaw Research Center test course, near the Houghton County Memorial Airport. Dress warmly; no seating is provided, and visitors must walk in to the course from the road.

This is a great opportunity to see the ultra-quiet, zero-emissions entries in action. These battery-powered snowmobiles are specially designed for use by researchers studying pollution in remote arctic terrain. The teams receive support from the National Science Foundation.

The Challenge concludes with the awards banquet at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, March 21, in Michigan Tech's Memorial Union Ballroom. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased by contacting Sue Kerttu at 487-2750.

The SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge is sponsored at Michigan Tech by the Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics and the Keweenaw Research Center.

For more information on the Challenge, visit .

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 60 countries. Founded in 1885, the University offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, and social sciences. Our campus in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula overlooks the Keweenaw Waterway and is just a few miles from Lake Superior.