Bio is to nominate Dana Wiltse for induction to the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame. To sum up his career in snowmobile racing is no easy task. It isn’t often that someone’s accomplishments and involvement in snowmobile racing almost 50 years ago are still felt and talked about today.
He began racing at Ice Carnivals and non-sanctioned races at age of 12. He raced on the Michigan International Snowmobile Association (MISA) circuit at age 14. He was the YOUNGEST DRIVER CERTIFIED to race a factory supplied Polaris snowmobile.
In the 1971-72 season at age 16yrs Dana was a MISA STATE CHAMPION in the 650 Stock class and was also named the HIGH POINT DRIVER OF THE YEAR by MISA. A feat that was recognized in the SPORTS ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE APRIL 24th 1972 issue.
Also during that time he was heavily involved in the conception and testing of the WOODY’S CARBIDE RUNNERS. Woody Koslow and Jim Musselman of Resorter Tool in Standish Michigan built the runners and Dana was the FIRST TO USE THEM at the race track and also the FIRST OFFICIAL SALESMAN to sell Woody’s Products. Today, thousands of trail riders and racers around the world use Woody’s runners.
Then in 1972-73 Dana was hired by Mickey Rupp of Rupp Industries to race their machines. That lasted only one season before Dana went back to Polaris.
The 1973-74 season brought more honors from MISA as he finished near the top of the State standings with big wins at the WHISKEY CREEK 100 and HOUGHTON LAKE GRAND PRIX which were also highly prized wins.
In December of 1974 at 19yrs old, while attending college, he won the GOVENORS CUP in IRONWOOD MICHIGAN, a race dominated by professional Factory Teams of this very highly competitive era of snowmobile racing. He was one of only a couple of privateers to ever win this award.
In 1975 Dana was hired by Kawasaki to race the SOO I-500 with GILLES and JACQUES VILLENEUVE. The machine went out of the race early and out of the money but was still a great part of his racing career.
January 24th 1976 brought Dana the WIN IN THE TRAVERSE CITY 250. One of his favorite accomplishments.
In 1979 Dana was a driver with the Adamowski Bro’s and Team Budweiser. That very successful team won numerous races and took home the MIRA PRO ENDURO RACING CIRCUIT CHAMPIONSHIP and the coveted TRIPLE CROWN AWARD for that year.
After witnessing several good friends get injured and even die on the racetrack Dana decided to quit driving and focus on making the sport safer. He was already VP of the Michigan International Racing Association (MIRA) for several years and worked diligently to make the races safer. He spent many hours and many, many miles on the road as the ON THE TRACK SAFTEY OFFICIAL to help make snowmobile racing a safer sport.
In 1992 he was approached by Rep. Tom Alley to put together a team to run the SOO I-500 for one year. He did so with drivers Jeff Hunt and Paul Buckler and finished an impressive 5th place.
While doing all of this Dana served on the Board of Directors of MIRA and MISA, was VP and a Race Official for MISA and MIRA for several years. He was also a member of the MICHIGAN SNOWMOBILE ADVIORY COMMITTEE, appointed by the Governor of Michigan, for approx. 20 yrs.
As I hope you would agree -- a person that has done all of this, and a lot more, deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.