Prodigious Powder Performer
The entrance gate sign reads “Through these gates the bravest drivers in the world compete”. Tens of thousands of fans have gathered to watch the 50th Anniversary of the Eagle River, Wisconsin Derby. Considered the Daytona 500 for SnoCross racers, hundreds of competitors have come to qualify and compete. At stake is $60,000, a World Championship Title and Trophy, plus the honor of attending an invite-only ‘meet and greet’ with nearly all of the past world champions.
#33 Malcolm Chartier lead the pack on the final lap of thirty for the Woody’s sponsored Chartier Motors team. It’s below freezing, he’s tired and as he zooms around turn three, Malcolm thinks “Breathe, don’t cramp up”. This historic race is the biggest challenge of his racing career. Malcolm grew up ditch banging in Saint Clair County, Michigan. “Snowmobiles were always fun. I grew up on a Kitty Cat. It was a fun, family thing. I didn’t plan on making a living at it. My dad raced and I wanted to be like my dad” says Malcolm.
Amidst the bitter cold, octane emissions and whining motors, Corbin Laparl of Wowzer Productions stands inside the track at turn three. Corbin stands within fifty feet of the track and the racers that exceed 100 MPH. He and his brother/partner at Wowzer, Spencer, drove from SE Michigan to film the championship race. Both are recreational snowmobile riders and friends with Malcolm.
Two days earlier, Corbin and Spencer filmed Malcolm winning the “Sweet 16” which netted him the pole for the main event. Malcolm has lead 28 of the 29 laps in the final race. Now it’s down to the final turn heading into the finish and Malcolm has a slight lead on competitor # 747 Jordan Wahl. Corbin’s heart races as Wahl attempts to pass Malcolm on the inside.
Wahl ‘nudges’ Malcolm for the inside position and #33 starts to slide sideways. By now, Malcolm hands are cramping up but he knows that he must hold the inside line. Remaining calm and with a champions focus, Malcolm is able to counter steer and straighten out. Nearly exhausted, Malcolm presses his knee on the throttle to keep it “wicked” and the two men battle to the finish.
Seconds later, Malcolm Chartier crosses the finish line first – by less than a snowmobile length – to become the 2013 Eagle River World Champion. The Woody’s Team and mentor/crew chief Mike House (a former two-time Eagle River Champion) were all smiles as Malcolm basked in the epic victory. “Going into the season, the Eagle River World Championship was our number one goal” says Chartier. When asked about the dangerous contact with Wahl, he smiles and says “Rubbing is racing”.
A few weeks later, Malcolm completed the TLR Cup as point’s leader. The TLR Cup is a six race series for Ice Oval Racing. His winnings are now in the six figure mark and his story in SnoCross is just beginning. When asked about the secret to his success, Malcolm is humble.
“My crew is great, dedicated. They custom build my sled. The sponsors treat me like family and Mike (crew chief) let’s me focus on driving” says Chartier. As for insights into a Snocross racers mind he adds “When I’m racing, I just stay focused and keep calm”. Great advice for racing and for life.
Mike White (AKA MD) is a freelancer writer and filmmaker from Detroit. His two short scripts, Malus Domestica and All Alone, won the coveted 2011 Audience Choice award at the Detroit Windsor International Film Festival and at the 2011 48 Hour International Film Festival. Mike is currently developing his first feature length film, The Big Play.