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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Snowmobile Racing Dream Becomes Reality For Peshtigo's Ryan Kniskern

The last time we here at the Times checked in with Ryan Kniskern, he was a freshman at Peshtigo High School putting in his time as an up and coming snowmobile racer in the Sno-X world with dreams of making it to the big leagues with a ride for a United States Snowmobile Association (USSA) team.

Now 23, it didn’t take Kniskern very long at all to turn his childhood aspirations into reality.

Ryan is living his dream. Currently enjoying some down time following his second season in USSA competition, Kniskern is not only thrilled to be competing at the top level of his sport, he’s focused on getting better when he takes to the track on top of his sled clad with 300 Woody’s studs for the start of the 2014 schedule.

After a great year in 2012 racing for Jim Gokey’s RiteWay Racing team based in Marinette, the 2013 USSA season saw Kniskern take control of the number 616 Ski-Doo for Tommy Lipar Racing, one of the sport’s most well known names, and bring home a sixth place finish in the standings.

It was no doubt a successful run on the new machine with his new team. Highlights for the number 616 sled included a great showing at this past season’s Grand Prix Ski-Doo at Valcourt Speedway in Quebec. It’s Canada’s biggest race of the season with drivers from all over the world competing over the various classes running on the oval, and as the end of his race neared, Ryan found himself in the lead with just a pair of laps remaining.

Kniskern was looking at an unprecedented win his first time out on the very challenging Valcourt oval but victory was snatched away from him late in the race as the leaders came upon traffic and were slowed down, allowing Nick Van Strydonk to get around him before the finish line.

The last-second pass that put the silver trophy in his hands instead of the gold didn’t sit well with the young racer and Ryan has circled Valcourt Speedway already on his 2014 calendar as a race he plans on winning. Same thing for the Eagle River event, where Kniskern turned a 10th place qualifying spot into a great drive that had him in third position as he crossed the finish line under the checkered flag.

“I want to win Eagle River, our biggest race of the year here in the US,” says Kniskern. “I also really want a win at Valcourt. We took second there this year after leading for 13 of 15 laps. Taking second was all right but I can win it and I’m planning on winning it next time.”

For Kniskern, the dream that started at age 11 when he stood in line for three hours to get an autograph from legendary Winter-X snowmobiler Blair Morgan has come full circle.

Today, Morgan’s former mechanic is Ryan’s crew chief on the TLR team, working alongside his stepfather Len Wiedemeier and mother Denise, who, in addition to being an active part of her son’s success on the track as a member of the crew, is also an accomplished snowmobile racer herself.

“(Tommy) Lipar has given Ryan a wonderful opportunity,” Denise said. “Ryan has great equipment and the most talented mechanics a driver could ask for. To younger kids that have a dream and a goal, don’t ever give up. Ryan now races for one of the top teams in the world. He gets flown to events, all expenses taken care of. And he gets paid to drive. Dreams do come true!”


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