Triple threat at Sands: Northern Michigan Triple Crown series brings together racers from 3 Upper Peninsula tracks

Cars line up for one of the races during the Kinross Showdown held at Sands Speedway in August. This year the challenge also includes the Norway Speedway in the inaugural Northern Michigan Triple Crown series that will race a leg Friday in Norway and Saturday at Sands. (Photo courtesy Sands track promoter Kim LeTourneau)

“This will be the largest number of race cars we’ll see at our track this season.”

— Kim LeTourneau, track promoter, Sands Speedway

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SANDS — A three-track duel with auto racers coming from Michigan, several other states and even Canada descends upon Sands Speedway this weekend.

As part of the inaugural Northern Michigan Triple Crown series, racers from Norway Speedway and Kinross Speedpark will compete against Sands drivers in a series that will also visit these other two Upper Peninsula venues.

The series kicks off Friday night in Norway before coming north to Sands Township on Saturday afternoon. Because of scheduling and the long distance to Kinross, the final leg of this series won’t be held until Saturday, Sept. 9, at Kinross.

Competitors in an open-wheel race come around a turn during the Kinross Showdown held at Sands Speedway in August 2016. This year the challenge also includes the Norway Speedway in the inaugural Northern Michigan Triple Crown series that will race a leg Friday in Norway and Saturday at Sands. The final race in the series will be held on Sept. 9 at Kinross. (Photo courtesy Sands track promoter Kim LeTourneau)

Sands will host a larger-than-normal set of races — possibly seven divisions in five classifications of autos — during its usual 5 to 8 p.m. racing schedule.

“Creating a relationship between these three tracks is something we’ve dreamed about for a long time,” Sands track promoter Kim LeTourneau said. “We think it’s a sign of great things to come.”

She said it’s also an expansion of a two-track showdown between Sands and Kinross that’s been held the past two summers.

All three tracks are asphalt-paved and about a quarter-mile or a third of a mile long. But LeTourneau said it should be interesting seeing drivers not familiar with the Sands track take on its elevation changes — the up-and-down hills — and a somewhat different shape of the track itself.

“You could say Sands has the more technical layout,” LeTourneau said.

Two racers nearly collide as they come out of a turn in the vintage modifieds division at Sands Speedway during the Kinross Showdown held in August 2016. This year the challenge also includes the Norway Speedway in the inaugural Northern Michigan Triple Crown series that will race a leg Friday in Norway and Saturday at Sands. The final race in the series will be held on Sept. 9 at Kinross. (Photo courtesy Sands track promoter Kim LeTourneau)

Trophies will be awarded at the end of the series to top racers in all of the racing divisions, which at Sands includes two types of four-cylinder racers, super stock and late model.

A few classifications that race at the other tracks are also planned to run at least exhibitions on Saturday, if not out-and-out competitions, including late-model modified and vintage modified racers.

“This will be the largest number of race cars we’ll see at our track this season,” LeTourneau said, adding she also expects spectator numbers to swell with the influx of people from Norway and Kinross.

Kinross racers come not only from Chippewa County, where the track is near I-75 about 20 miles south of Sault Ste. Marie, but also the northern Lower Peninsula and areas of Ontario just over the border from the Soo.

And Norway, with the track located on U.S. 8 just south of town, includes northern Wisconsin racers among its regulars and others from adjoining states who are affiliated with them.

A racer competes in the vintage modifieds division at Sands Speedway during the Kinross Showdown held in August 2016. This year the challenge also includes the Norway Speedway in the inaugural Northern Michigan Triple Crown series that will race a leg Friday in Norway and Saturday at Sands. The final race in the series will be held on Sept. 9 at Kinross. (Photo courtesy Sands track promoter Kim LeTourneau)

The Sands track is located near M-553, with access off the highway about a mile south of the Marquette County Fairgrounds entrance and three miles south of the “Crossroads” intersection with County Road 480.

To make things simplest, racers will follow the rules of their own track even while competing at these other tracks.

LeTourneau also pointed out that Saturday’s event is sponsored by Fox Motors U.P. and a charity drawing will benefit the Northern Michigan University-based organization Marquette Ending Hunger.

More information can also be found on the Sands Speedway website, sandsspeedway.com.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.