Last year, we ran a story about that time in 1970 when Don Brown, 26 at the time, drove his Chaparral snowmobile to a successful first place finish at the International 500 (I-500) snowmobile race at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Read that story and check out the photos here.
Don and his family are well known to longtime Old Mission Peninsula residents. His dad, Ed Brown, was a schoolbus driver for Old Mission Peninsula School, and his mom, Jo, was a cook at the school. My husband Tim and I bought the property we now live on from the Browns in the 1990s.
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Well, we have an update to the I-500 story! While Don’s original snowmobile was stolen years ago (Got any leads? Email me, firstname.lastname@example.org), his nephew Steve DuCheney (his mom is Don’s sister, Pat DuCheney) has been working on a replica of the machine. (He even drove out to check on an old snowmobile engine we had here – not quite what he needed, though).
Steve’s replica project is now complete, with help from Mel Winnie (M&M Sports Center), Dan Walker (D. Walker Studio), Paul and Todd Berret (Barret’s Auto & Marine Interiors), Paul Buckler, OMP’s Rocko Fouch, and Brad Wheat (Craig’s Body Shop on the OMP).
The I-500 story actually originated when we ran a story about Brad Wheat’s historic paint board at Craig’s Body Shop (decades of paint!), and we learned that he was doing the paint on the snowmobile.
That snowmobile replica is now on display at the Soo. It can be seen at the Kewadin Casino all of race week and at the track on race day – which is this Saturday.
But that’s not all! Before the big race on Saturday, Don Brown will be riding the snowmobile around the I-500 track. Bundle up if you’re planning on going – even though my weather app says it’ll be a balmy 15 degrees at the Soo on race day.
Great job, Steve! This is super exciting for the Old Mission Peninsula, especially for those of us who were around when Don won the race in 1970.