KC Pro West Snowmobile Racing is a blast
February 26, 2022
by Jeff Olsen
The winter racing season is the highlight of the year, especially for the little kids who are still riding tricycles at around three miles per hour in the off-season. In the racing circuit, the four to seven year olds travel at 15 to 20 mph.
And they're naturals, according to Donnie Wensloff, a member of KC Pro West Youth Snowmobile Racing, who held a two-day event on Saturday and Sunday, February 12-13, at the Roseau County Fairgrounds.
"We had about 45 kids racing in multiple classes from ages 4-years-old to 17-years-old," said Donnie, a parent of two of the racers and helped out during the competition.
Mr. Wensloff explained that it was a sanctioned event, and KC Pro West is a nonprofit organization that was started back in the 1980s.
"This year, we've raced in Fertile, Oslo, East Grand Forks and now in Roseau," he said, adding that in the upcoming weeks they will be competing in Thief River Falls, Naytahwaush (near Mahnomen), and Warroad.
During the racing season, the contestants earn points.
"In the spring, we have a year-end banquet, and there are awards on how they did. It's a fun event for kids who aren't in other winter sports and want to enjoy snowmobiling."
There are specific age groups and they compete in multiple classes.
"Based on their points, the first place person in a certain class gets a larger trophy than the rest," he said, noting that there are other special awards for sportsmanship at the season-ending banquet.
"When they're four, five or six-years-old, that's a big deal when their names are called and they get to come up and get their trophy in front of everybody," he said, mentioning that this year's banquet will be held in Detroit Lakes.
Donnie, a 1992 Roseau High School graduate, was asked if he did any snowmobiling as a kid.
"I did a fair amount. I didn't play any hockey, so I could snowmobile," he said and laughed. "And then I played hockey at the skating rink in Wannaska."
There are no paid positions with KC Pro West Club, and the president is Matt Prusak.
"We have a group of parents who have kids racing, and we get together and put the race on," he said, noting that the group of parents has gotten smaller.
"We used to have more Roseau people doing it. We now have a handful of Warroad people who have started helping, and they will be doing a Warroad race, which they haven't done for a few years."
There is a membership fee per family, which covers the year-end banquet and awards.
"You don't have to be a member to race. You can just show up, pay the entry fee and race, but you're not involved in the points."
They compete next in Thief River Falls.
"All of our races this year are two-day events. They race Saturday and Sunday, but they are separate races. It's not like Saturday's races count for Sunday's races."
Two reasons for consecutive days of racing is to free up a few weekends and also with the time and effort to make the track, they may as well race on it for a couple of days.
Donnie was asked if he's pretty handy at fixing sleds?
"I like to think I am," he said, adding that their daughter, Claire, finished in fifth place while Eric got a third and a fourth at the races in Roseau.
"The good thing is, everybody kind of knows everybody. We have a handful of families from North Dakota, Thief River and Warren that race with us."
Apparently, no two tracks are the same.
"It's fun to race in Thief River and see how the Polaris sleds do," he said, chuckling that the track designers there might try to make it advantageous for the Arctic Cat sleds.
"I think we might do that in Roseau to make it advantageous for us."
He Misses It
Tony Wensloff was the president of KC Pro West for four of the six years his kids competed.
What's the attraction?
"Absolutely, it turns into a family, and all the kids become really good friends, and it's very good competition," he said on Sunday.
"This is our first year out of this club, and there are a lot of things I miss about it."
The biggest thing, he noted, was getting together with the group and all the unique things for the competitors.
"We had banquets and trophy presentations for the young kids, and we were very involved."
Their daughter, Ana, started racing when she was seven, and their son, Grant, was just four.
Presently, Ana, 13, is racing in regional and national Snocross competition.
"It's a neat little club," he said, tipping his hat to KC Pro West.
Mary Jo Wensloff, Donnie's wife, provided a list of the local kids who compete for KC Pro West.
Meet the local talent: Draycen Byfuglien (#427), Bryden Diesen (#224), Kynsie Diesen (#212), Ivy Huot (#481), Knox Olafson (#12K), Cole Prusak (#706), Levi Prusak (#607), Noah Quamme (#91), Anna Quamme (#20A), Eli Quamme (#3E), Eric Wensloff (#123), and Claire Wensloff (#46).