First family of sno-cross

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2001

From staff reports

Snowmobile racing continues to be a family affair for Jolene and Pat Bute of rural Alden.

Thursday, May 03, 2001

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Snowmobile racing continues to be a family affair for Jolene and Pat Bute of rural Alden.

Jolene has two brothers, Jon and Jeff Ignaszewski, who compete in the men’s division of the same circuit she does. The Butes’ 5-year-old son, Jordan, helps his dad keep the snowmobiles in top condition.

Bute belongs to the World Snowmobile Association National Circuit and the Minnesota Regional Circuit. Competitions are held at Deadwood, S.D., Lake Geneva, Wis., New Richmond, Wis., and other Midwest locations.

The First American North Star Racing Association is the official name of the cross country circuit. Bute prefers cross country racing but also participates in sno-cross events, which are similar to motorcycle moto-cross races in that a course is laid out on a track with a series of jumps.

The snowmobile racing season begins Thanksgiving weekend and continues until mid-March.

&uot;With events most every weekend, a person must be in top condition,&uot; said Bute, who runs and lifts weights during the offseason to stay in shape. She also plans to again participate in the bike-a-thon to benefit cancer research.

&uot;The bike-a-thon is a real challenge with weather conditions and the 100-mile distance,&uot; said Bute.

During the racing season Bute averages between 50 and 75 miles per day on her snowmobile prior to the Warroad I-500, the premier cross country race of the year.

Bute has finished every race she has entered, a remarkable feat that speaks well of both her driving ability and her husband’s mechanical expertise.

Bute’s biggest win this past season was the Warroad I-500, which she also won two years ago and placed second in last year. With a time of 2 hours, 48 minutes and 30 seconds on the first day, she had a lead of 3:08. She increased her lead to 6:49 on the second day and wound up winning by an impressive 24:07 margin.

On the third day, Bute’s brother Jon was in the same flight and her brother Jeff was one flight behind. She defeated Jon by one minute.

Bute also won the Iron Man 250 at Thief River Falls one week before the Warroad I-500, giving her the racer of the week award.

Bute wound up fourth in the WSA national circuit and third in regional circuit points. If she had participated in more races she probably would have been higher.

The 1999-2000 regional sno-cross points championship was also won by Bute.

&uot;Sno-cross is getting bigger all the time as spectators can watch the entire race,&uot; said Bute. &uot;Last year’s two-day sno-cross competition at Canterbury Park drew 20,000 spectators per day.&uot;

Prize money is paid from entry fees in cross country races. The entry fee for the Warroad I-500 is $500, with first-place prize money of $4,000.

Participating in races almost every weekend is expensive, and racers have sponsors to share costs. The Butes’ sponsors include Artic Cat, Royal Sports of Clarks Grove, Stud Boy Traction Parts, Black Magic, C & A Pro Skis, and Jeff’s Electric.