2023 International 500

International 500: The Most Grueling Snowmobile Race In The World

International 500: The Most Grueling Snowmobile Race In The World

The International 500 snowmobile race is a grueling 500-lap, 500-mile snowmobile race held in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan.

Feb 1, 2023 by Brandon Paul
International 500: The Most Grueling Snowmobile Race In The World

The International 500 is a race that was created after a simple question was asked during the winter of 1968: "Could a snowmobile run 500 miles?" The answer turned out to be yes, and the rest is history. 

Fast forward to 2023 and the race is now widely recognized as one of the most prestigious, and certainly the most grueling, snowmobile races in the world. 

This year, the International 500 will be contested for the 54th time. The event will get underway on Wednesday, February 1 with practice and qualifying rounds. Additional qualifying rounds and the Meijer Pro Shootout will be held on Thursday, February 2 before an off-day for track prep on Friday, February 3. The green flag for the 54th running of the International 500 is set for Saturday, February 4 at 10 a.m. ET. 

Contested on a one-mile ice oval in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, the race serves as the ultimate test for both man and machine. Historically, the event has taken seven to 10 hours to complete, with each team featuring multiple riders throughout the duration of the race. 


VIDEO: Watch highlights from last year's International 500.

Now, let's go back to how this race came to be. We previously mentioned the one simple question, but there's more to the story than just that. 

The I-500 Snowmobile Race was dreamed up from a 1968 Chevrolet Camaro that was sitting in a car dealer’s window. That Camaro happened to be the official pace car for the upcoming Indianapolis 500, one of the most legendary motorsports events in the world. 

As a group of local businessmen admired the car, one of the men asked the question: "Could a snowmobile run 500 miles?"

In the weeks and months following that discussion, the group of businessmen made the decision to create a snowmobile race based on the Indianapolis 500. 

The I-500 committee was formed, land was acquired and crews began building North America's first and only one-mile oval ice track. 

A year after that initial conversation, the first official race day for the International 500 arrived on February 8, 1969. 

That year, 26 machines crossed the finish line after 500 laps after completing a combined 13,891 miles. From there, there was no turning back. The most grueling snowmobile race in the world had been born.