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      I-500 off to the races with Governor Snyder's green flag start

      In a race of speed and endurance, snowmobiles revved up and ripped through Sault Ste. Marie Saturday for the 44th annual I-500 race.

      Some of the best snowmobile racers took to the track to reach speeds of up to 140 miles per hour.

      The Governor dropped the green flag to kick it off.

      For the first time since 2005, the I-500 had a full field. 38 teams testing their endurance, seeing who can finish 500 miles on this one mile track the fastest.

      "This is â??Pure Michigan,â?? it's awesome, it's really great. Itâ??s a volunteer effort to do something like this, and the way these guys are riding these sleds is just incredible," says Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.

      Sporting his new, red, I-500 snowmobile jacket, Governor Rick Snyder gave the green flag "go" to rev up the 44th Annual I-500. The Governor was fulfilling the only promise he made on the campaign trail two years ago while in the Eastern Upper Peninsula, and it was if he won, he'd be back.

      â??You know they're going fast!" says Snyder.

      "Itâ??s great to have him here. Heâ??s loving it, and the big thing is what can we do to make this thing better? Thatâ??s what we're striving for in the future," says I-500 co-chairman Ric Federau.

      Thousands of people lined up along the track to watch these snowmobile drivers thumb the throttle and reach speeds of 140 miles an hour. The snowmobile skis would go airborne on the turns. The excitement and high-octane of this race is a tradition in the Soo.

      "Just meeting all the guys, see some of the new sleighs that are out," says spectator Ted Potoczak.

      80 laps in, the track started to kick up a little dirt, results of a poor week of weather to build up ice.

      â??At least they're getting it in, we're happy about that," says one spectator.

      And race organizers agree. More than $3.5 million dollars are expected to be pumped into the Soo area with this weekend's race.

      â??We're the only show in town. Weâ??re the biggest, fastest, oldest, longest endurance race in the world, and obviously, the best place to be," says Federau.

      And we know the Governor can give the green flag, but could he race it? He says hit the brakes on that thought.

      â??I'm really glad it's them and not me, because I would end up sprawled all over the track, so they're great athletes, if you really think what they're doing for 500 laps, you have to be in great shape and have great concentration," laughs Governor Snyder.

      To see the latest results of the I-500, CLICK HERE.