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It's perfect weather for snowmobile races

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Chuck Root, of Otisco, standing, poses with his three kids, who all race snowmobiles

Sunday's forecast calls for perfect snowmobile weather — 65 degrees and not a trace of snow.

At least that's the view of the 4,000 to 5,000 snowmobile enthusiasts such as Chuck Root and his family, who descend on Douglas each year for the Great Southern Grass Drags .

So what's the draw of racing snowmobiles on grass rather than snow?

"It's warmer," said Root with a laugh.

"It's a little bit rougher out racing on the grass," he added, "but people are a lot more social, it's a different atmosphere. It's not 20 below."

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Other than the weather, Root, who lives near Otisco, which is about five miles south of Waseca, is a traditionalist when it comes to sleds.

"Getting on a snowmobile today is like getting on a Cadillac," he said.

He and his family are known for riding vintage sleds, which are at least 25 years old.

"I grew up on vintage sleds, but they were new when I was a kid," Root said.

Root's father, Leland Root, worked for Herters, an outdoors store based in Waseca, when snowmobiles first came out in the 1960s, Root said.

"My dad was the closest thing they had to research and development," Root said. "He worked there, fixed them and rode them. He put all kinds of snowmobiles together."

His father raced the sleds in the 1960s and '70s. Root raced in the 1980s. Now Root's three children — Charlie, 30, Casey, 29, and Katie Wenthold, 25, who's better known as "Kawasaki Kate" — also are in on the action. All three have won national drag races.

"We really make it a family thing," Wenthold said. "Everyone has a part."

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And almost every sled has a family history.

"I race the sled my dad raced 25 years ago," Wenthold said. "We also race sleds that grandfather raced."

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