Corey Prachar and Joel Burns of Willow River won the World Vintage Snowmobile Championship at the vintage snowmobile races in Eagle River, Wisconsin, on Saturday, January 17.
Both competed with their 1973 Yamaha SR 292 sleds that they had modified, and they were able to take home the trophies as world champions.
The two racers went to Eagle River last year for the first time, and did well.
"Last year I ended up getting first in the Pro Mod 300 and second in the Super Mod 300," said Corey in a telephone interview. "Joel actually won the Pro Mod 300 and had a second in the Super Mod 300 but he was disqualified."
Corey explained that one of the shims on the carbide runners on the skis on Joel's snowmobile had worked loose and was out too far. It hadn't been noticed or they would have fixed it.
"When I thought that I had won, it was great," said Joel, in a separate telephone interview. "But then I got disqualified. I almost expected to win it this year. I came back for redemption. I set out to beat one guy; that was my driving force."
This year Corey won the Super Mod 300, and Joel took second.
Joel won the Pro Mod 300 and Corey took second.
Both were in the class of snowmobiles, determined by the size of the engine, that the two owned.
They took home cash prizes, as well a trophies and jackets.
Corey and Joel have been friends for around 10 years, and they spend many hours each night working on their snowmobiles to win races.
"They are basically built from junk," said Joel. "We are up many nights until midnight, and that's an early night."
Joel is single, but Corey has a family.
Corey said that he comes in to spend time with his wife, Tara, and 2-year-old daughter, Paige, in the evenings.
"As soon as Paige goes to bed, I go back out to the shop and work on the snowmobiles," he said. "It was nice that our efforts paid off."
Corey's day job is as a cabinet maker, and Joel works in his irrigation business during the season.
"We make money in the summer and spend it in the winter," he said.
The two work as a team.
"It's a team effort," said Corey. "Each of us has different ideas. We drive each other to get better."
Although their sleds aren't the big ones, both Corey and Joel entered the 440 races at Eagle River this year, and they did well.
"That's the main event, that's the most prestigious race," said Corey. "Our machines are smaller. We knew that we wouldn't do real good. But we qualified during the time trails. I took 10th and Joel took 13th. We needed to be in the top 36 to get to the next level.
"We both made it to the next round but after that, my pipe broke. Joel made it to the next one and passed Brady Mlaskoch. But then Brady passed him and by four inches made it to the final."
Corey said that he used to race in the snow cross from 1997 to 2004. But then he got hurt.
"I dislocated my shoulder," he said. "And then I started to work with the vintage snowmobiles in 2005. We raced on Long Lake by Isanti in 2009 and had fun. We learned a lot.
"At the end of the 2012 season, Joel came to me and said, 'Let's build two sleds and take it seriously.' That's when we built the modified sleds and went to Eagle River last year."
The racers have fierce competition between the drivers in the big races.
"Everybody wants to win," said Corey. "People can take some of the big races too seriously. The races around here are more for fun.
"But the guy who won the world championship last year was real nice. He came and congratulated us."
Both Corey and Joel are out racing many weekends during the winter, although they don't race every weekend.
Corey won a 25-mile race in the Wild Bill Run at the Embassy by Sturgeon Lake on January 25 with his 1972 Arctic Cat Lynx 292.
"There were 12 sleds but only four of us finished," he said.
And the race on Long Lake by Isanti remains a favorite. Corey and Joel are looking forward to another race on the Wild Bill racing circuit coming up at Ray and Marge's on Sturgeon Lake.
Joel took his sled down to Waconia to a race on a lake on Sunday, January 26, and won the one race that he competed in. But the race was cancelled when high winds made visibility impossible.
Joel said that he wants to race one more year and then retire. Corey said that he is thinking about selling his sled after this season.
"I know that everyone will come back with sleds that are faster," he said. "We have to make ours faster too if we want to compete."
Safety is the number one concern of both racers.
"As long as nobody gets hurt by the end of the day, it's a good day," said Joel.