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      Snowmobilers worldwide race to International 500

      Snowmobilers from all over the world are flocking to Sault Ste. Marie for the International 500 Snowmobile Race.

      T housands are expected to visit the region and that means good news for area businesses.

      " The I-500 is one of the premier events in the State of Michigan proclaimed by the Governor as Michigan's premier winter sporting event. It allows Sault Ste. Marie to be a destination for winter sport activity," Race Chairman Ric Federau said.

      O ver the last decade this event has done nothing but grow in popularity and people from all over the country and the world flock to the Eastern Upper Peninsula for the week's festivities.

      " A whole week you have people here filling your rooms , eating in your restaurants , doing shopping for any essentials. It's probably the one thing we look forward to in the winter ," Sault Ste. Marie Visitor's Bureau Executive Director Linda Hoath said.

      E ach year , the race generates more than three million dollars in hotel and restaurant revenue. T he Antlers family restaurant is one of many in the area that sees a huge boost in traffic. Their business triples during this busy week.

      " Snowmobilers come up and they do a lot of different things . T hey ' ll come watch the race but the n travel around snowmobil ing for a good week prior to and after , s o it carries on for more than just a couple of days . I t ' s more like about a week and a half snow m obile traffic ," The Antlers owner Chris Szabo said.

      Qualifying rounds will be going on all day today, so if you head down to the track you are likely to see snowmobilers practicing.

      Today's events include.

      11:00-12:00 noon - Pro-Am Practice

      12:00-5:00 pm - Soo I-500 Practice

      5:00-6:00 pm - Woody's Challenge Qualifying

      7:00-10:00 pm - Pole Position Runs for Soo I-500