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Voyageur's Best Features of 2001

Roth family

Roth Family Racing
McGregor family enjoys season of snowmobile racing
by John Grones  |  February 13, 2001

Weekend trips all over the state of Minnesota have been a part of the Roth family for quite some time. Their destination – snowmobile races. This past weekend the family destination was Hill City for the six-mile Central Minnesota Cross Country race on Hill Lake.

For Bob Roth and his children, racing is a time for the family to get together and enjoy some competition. Bob started racing with his brother Gary while he was in high school. Later on, he encouraged his cousin Russell Zimpel to get involved. Now Bob just races with his children Brian (20), Annie (17) and Stephanie (12).

Arctic Cat is the snowmobile of choice for the Roth family. Bob says Arctic Cats are usually the top finishers at the races. "It's been a long time since Polaris dominated the racing scene," he said.

This week the family traveled to Hill City. Along for the ride was a friend of Bob's, Mel Christianson. This was the first time Mel had attended such an event and he appeared to be having a great time. Gina Haugse, a friend of Brian's, was also along to watch with Bob's wife Debora. Debora does not have quite the interest Bob has, but she enjoys coming along on occasion.

This is the first year Bob didn't race with his children. "I basically decided to wrench for Annie and Brian this year," said Bob. A good thing, because Brian's sled needed some pre-race adjustments just 15 minutes before his race. Normally, the wrench crew would include Matt Wayrynen and Darwin Hietalati, but this week, Bob was on his own.

Bob has become quite popular at the races. Part of the fun for him is the fellowship with fellow Arctic Cat racers. He enjoys providing his competitors with parts and helpful tips prior to the race. This weekend, just before the Pro 440 race, Jeff Dick, an Arctic Cat competitor, stopped in at the Roth trailer to borrow a compression tester. On the way out he managed to squeeze out a few tips regarding race conditions.

The family races in as many as 12 races a year. They attend two circuits, the First American North Star Series (FANS) and Central Minnesota Cross Country Racing (CMCCR). This week it was a CMCCR race and the first event of the day featured the women's and the legends' divisions.

Annie Roth took the lead from the start and never trailed the women in her class. Her first place finish earned her $150. Annie has had a few highlights over the years, but one really stands out. "I'm pretty proud of finishing the I-500 in Warroad my very first year of racing." The I-500 includes three days of racing for a total of 500 miles. Each night, participants are only allowed one hour to make repairs on their snowmobiles, so in many cases, racers aren't able to finish the course.

The oldest of Bob's children is Brian. He may be the most reckless, also. He has already accumulated quite a history as a young racer. Four years ago, Brian was in a severe crash while racing at the Detroit Lakes 200. Brian lay in the hospital for eight days. His injuries included a ruptured spleen, punctured biceps muscle, lacerations on both knees, a bruised kidney and broken ribs. He followed that up last year with a broken leg and ankle. Brian says he has two titanium screws in his ankle.

"I think they're titanium," said Brian.

"They'd better be titanium for what they cost," replied Bob.

When asked about his highlight of racing, Brian had the same reply as Annie. "Finishing that I-500 is tough. Three days of 180 miles. I didn't do it until my second year."

The youngest racer in the family is Stephanie. This is her first year racing. She tried it out for the first time two weeks ago, but she didn't think it went too well. Only because Annie reminded her that she lapped her in the short race. Nevertheless, Stephanie plans on getting back on and trying it again.

As for Bob, he says he plans on racing again next year. For now he will finish out the year wrenching for his children.