The extended Englund family of Bradford Township was stunned Dec. 21 when notified of the death of Andy Englund in an auto accident as he was returning home for Christmas from his job in North Dakota.
In honor of Andy, the family drove on hard to organize this Sunday’s “Fast Fifty – 50 Miler” vintage snowmobile race on Long Lake in western Isanti County.
The Jan. 20 event begins with registration from 8 to 10 a.m. at Captain’s on Long Lake in Isanti. Racing starts at 11 a.m. on what will be a 2.5-mile loop where racers in three classes — HR (1973/older small carb), HD (1973/older big carb) and Relic (1970/older) will make 20 laps. The winners will be awarded 76-inch-tall trophies in memory of Andy’s No. 76 sled he drove since the advent of Long Lake Vintage Races 10 years ago.
“All we need is good ice to have the ‘Fast Fifty.’ It looks like the weather will cooperate for us,” said his father, Jimmy Englund, during an interview with Andy’s family Saturday morning, Jan. 12. “We’ll prepare the track so we can have a little powder on it for the sleds.”
“Andy always wanted us to host a 50-miler down here. That’s why we’re doing it this year,” said aunt Carrie Englund-Borchardt, who along with several family members organize the annual race events on Long Lake. “We’ll have 18 people out there helping as lap counters.”
Andy would have turned 25 on Jan. 22, added his mother, Wendy. Last year, he was a vintage racing champ in two local classes.
“He was always working on his sleds for next year’s races,” said Wendy. “He liked his vintage Arctic Cats, but he had a Yamaha before, too.”
Added Jimmy, “And then there was that Scorpion he had. He ran the “Wild Bill 100” cross country race in Brainerd on that Scorpion and took fifth. He built the sled that won the race that year.”
Andy and his brother, Jay, reconfigured a Zamboni blade to make an ice shaver to help the family groom the courses for vintage racing. Those two were also an untouchable team in vintage tandem racing.
“There was nobody that could catch ’em,” said Wendy. “Sometimes we would try to mess them up by holding on to the back of their sled when they switched drivers. So they got wary of that trick and quit coming too close to us in future races.”
Andy’s love of racing also spilled over into summer when he would compete on the Princeton Speedway. He won his share of championships in his stock car, too.
Love of nature deep in Andy’s soul
After the payback to the racers this Sunday, additional proceeds from the $50 entry fees and accompanying silent auction will be donated as a memorial to Andy to three outdoor organizations in which he was involved: Pheasants Forever, MN Deer Hunters Association, and Quality Deer Management Association.
In the Englund’s shop pole shed, mixed with racing trophies, sleds and cycles, are projects Andy completed in his life after taking Carl Beaupre’s taxidermy class at Isanti Middle School. Carl came out to the shed to work with Andy on a tanning bear skin rug, said Wendy. On the top shelf is a wild turkey tail mount from Andy’s first turkey hunt back when he was 13.
“Andy created food plots all over the place in our area,” Wendy said. “He would put trail cameras on them. He shot some beautiful deer in his lifetime — here in Minnesota, along with Wisconsin and North Dakota. That one he shot in Wisconsin had huge, long tines on him.”
“He was all about going after the big guys,” added Jimmy. “And pheasants. He loved raising hundreds of pheasants out here. Then he’d release them in different areas near wild pheasants and water so they could acclimate better. But he never shot them.”
“And, oh my lord, then there were the bobtail quails he raised, too. That was something else!” quickly chimed back Wendy.
Added Jay, “Along with the food plots, Andy planted 300-some fruit and nut trees to help out the deer and other animals.”
In his 24 years, Andy Englund definitely lived a creative and full life. The Englunds plan to make the Fast Fifty an annual event to honor that memory. For more on the local club and its 2013 schedule, log on to www.vintagesnowmobileracing.com.