Six Sleds Complete Clean Snowmobile Challenge Endurance Run

By Marcia Goodrich | Published

Six snowmobiles made it to the finish line Tuesday in the Endurance Run, a 100-mile test of reliability that launched the 2013 SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge at Michigan Technological University.

Ten snowmobiles began the trek, which starts with a series of laps around a track at the Keweenaw Research Center. Machines that survive that initial test head north to Copper Harbor.

The victors this year were Clarkson University (Potsdam, N.Y.), Kettering University (Flint), Michigan Tech, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of Idaho and the École de Technologie Supérieure (Montreal).

The Clean Snowmobile Challenge is a collegiate design competition of the Society of Automotive Engineers. Engineering students from participating schools reengineer a stock snowmobile to reduce emissions and noise and increase fuel efficiency—all while preserving the riding excitement demanded by snowmobile enthusiasts.

The École de Technologie Supérieure group was especially jubilant: this is the first time the French-speaking team’s sled had made it through the Endurance Run in 10 years of competition. “C’était merveilleux,” said driver Mathieu Proulx. “It was marvelous, and the scenery was beautiful.”

Conditions for the run were nearly ideal, with plenty of packed snow on the trails. “It was really smooth,” said Michigan Tech’s Chad Kromrey.

Several machines had to pull out of the event. The University of Buffalo’s diesel-powered sled returned to the shop after bearings unseated on its belt drive, and the University of Waterloo’s snowmobile lost oil pressure. North Dakota State University and the University of Wisconsin-Platteville also had to withdraw.

It’s not uncommon for sleds to break down during the Endurance Run, according to Challenge organizer Jay Meldrum. “Having six out of 10 finish is actually very good,” he said.

In the Challenge’s zero emissions category, two sleds competed in the range test. McGill University (Montreal) won the event, with the University of Alaska Fairbanks placing second.

The Challenge continues through the week. The teams will have their sleds on display from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at the Copper Country Mall. Everyone is invited to view the entries and talk with the participants about their design strategies.

On Saturday, March 9, the Polaris Acceleration Event begins at 10 a.m., followed by the Polaris Handling Event at 11 a.m. In addition, the zero-emissions entries will undergo their Acceleration and Load Test at 11 a.m. All three events are open to the public and are held at the Keweenaw Research Center Test Course.

The Awards Banquet is held at 6:30 p.m., Saturday, March 9, in the Memorial Union Ballroom on the Michigan Tech campus. Tickets are $25 and may be purchased by contacting the Keweenaw Research Center, 906-487-2750.

Michigan Technological University is a public research university, home to more than 7,000 students from 54 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.