King of the Hill: Chopp wins Hillclimb in South Range Saturday

Racers from four states competed at the The Mid America Snow and Terrain Expert Racers (MASTERS)-Ojibwa Casino Motorcycle Hillclimb in South Range this past Saturday. Atlantic Mine’s Mike Chopp won the Triest Forest Products-Vollwerth’s King of the Hill, along with the Eagle Radio-Daily Mining Gazette Terra-X.

“Mike’s dad, Ron, won the King of the Hill back in 1985 by turning in a 10.9 second run,” said Jolene Jenkins of Toucan’s Auto Repair. “Mike ran a 10.866 to win the Matt’s Auto Glass 600 class. So he beat his dad.”

Chopp turned in the fastest run of the day in the 10-racer King of the Hill Shoot-out when he had a 10.049 second run. This was more than two seconds faster than the second place finisher, Stephen Norman of Shakopee, Minnesota. He won $250 for winning the King of the Hill.

The Chopp’s were not the only second generation to return to the Hillclimb.

“Prior to Saturday, the last hillclimb took place in 1986,” said Leif Forcia. “Saturday I not only raced, but so did my son Chaz. I made it over the top, that’s all that mattered.”

Another father-son combo was Nissula’s Kaurala family. Karson Kaurala won the Micro Mini, Kaiden won the Mini-Sr. Their father, Travis, competed in the 600 class, where he went 180 feet up the hill.

“Not everyone made the hill,” said Jeremy Schmidt, a MASTERS Racing Circuit official. “It started off with a sand base and by the second run, the challenge was in the ruts.”

The MASTERS sanctioned the race. The MASTERS has run five Snowmobile Hillclimbs since 1991. Travis Kaurala is one of the MASTERS’ top Snowmobile Hillclimbers.

While racers came from as far away as Byron, Illinois and Shakopee, it was western U.P. racers that won every class but the 240. That was won by Norman from Minnesota.

It was the first time that two motorcycles raced side by side at Whealkate. In the single elimination race it came down to an exciting race between Chopp and Norman, Chopp held off Norman for the win and an extra $100.

Local racers who took home a first place honor included a double win for Crystal Falls’ Shane Bandola. Bandola impressed the hundreds of fans by winning both the Stock 400 and Open Stock classes. Ontonagon County winners included Craig Tousignant in the 440 class and Anthony Ernest in the Open Class.

Triest Forest Products, Ojibwa Casino, and the MASTERS will be meeting to discuss the future of Motorcycle Hillclimbs at Whealkate Bluff. The MASTERS-Ojibwa Casino WINTERNATIONALS Snowmobile Hillclimb will be on Feb. 23, 2019. That hillclimb will be a qualifier for the World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb in Jackson, Wyoming.

MASTERS-Ojibwa Casino Motorcycle Hillclimb

Presented by Triest Forest Products

Whealkate Bluff, South Range, MI. July 7, 2018 Results

Toucan’s Auto Repair Micro Mini: 1) Karson Kaurala, Nissula, MI., KTM, 52 feet; 2) Tristen Gerazetich, Painesdale, MI., Yamaha, 45 feet.

Katalina Restaurant Mini Sr: 1) Kaiden Kaurala, Nissula, MI., Suzuki, 247 feet.

Vollwerth’s 100-240: 1) Stephen Norman, Shakopee, MN., KTM, 22.375; 2) Kaiden Kaurala, Nissula, MI., Suzuki, 175 feet; 3) Mike Kirtland, Mass City, MI., Yamaha, 125 feet.

Pat’s Motorsports 240-440: 1) Craig Tousignant, Ontonagon, MI., Yamaha, 11.819; 2) Stephen Norman, Shakopee, MN., KTM, 12.889; 3) Dusty Rafaelli, South Range, MI., Yamaha, 13.162.

Matt’s Auto Glass and Body Repair 441-600: 1) Mike Chopp, Atlantic Mine, MI., KTM, 10.866; 2) Craig Tousignant, Ontonagon, MI., Yamaha, 12.607; 3) Anthony Ernest, Mass City, MI., Honda, 13.303.

Diamond House International-Meyer Yamaha Open: 1) Anthony Ernest, Mass City, MI., Honda, 14.620; 2) Mike Kirtland, Mass City, MI., Yamaha, 15.870.

Bald Eagle Harley/Zambon’s KTM-Kawasaki Stock 400: 1) Shane Bandola, Crystal Falls, MI., KTM, 11.487; 2) Stephen Norman, Shakopee, MN., Yamaha, 235 feet.

Triest Forest Products Open Stock: 1) Shane Bandola, Crystal Falls, MI., KTM, 11.702; 2) Randy Antilla, Greenland, MI., Kawasaki, 13.396; 3) Mike Kirtland, Mass City, MI., Yamaha, 13.699.

Eagle Radio/WUPM-WHRY/Daily Mining Gazette Terra X: 1) Mike Chopp, Atlantic Mine, MI., KTM; 2) Stephen Norman, Shakopee, MN., KTM; 3) Mark Kirking, Byron, Ill., Kawasaki; 3) Mike Kirtland, Mass City, MI., Yamaha.

Ojibwa Casino/Vollwerth’s King of the Hill: 1) Mike Chopp, Atlantic Mine, MI., KTM, 10.049; 2) Mark Kirking, Byron, Ill., Kawasaki, 12.335; 3) Shane Bandola, Crystal Falls, MI., KTM, 12.695; 4) Roger Trudgeon, South Range, MI., 12.798; 5) Craig Tousignant, Ontonagon, MI., Yamaha, 13.399; 6) Mike Kirtland, Mass City, MI., Yamaha, 14.272; 7) Randy Laurilla, Ishpeming, MI., Honda, 13.789; 8) Anthony Ernest, Mass City, MI., Honda, 15.209; 9) Randy Antilla, Greenland, MI., Kawasaki, 15.288; 10) Dusty Raffaelli, South Range, MI., Yamaha, 16.540.

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