“In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony.” —Friedrich Nietzsche

It’s been famously said that the family that prays together stays together. It’s also been said by some that the family that plays together stays together.

The Siler family of Spring Lake, Mich., three generations of avid snowmobile racers, are covered on both counts, playing and praying together last week while competing at the World Championship Derby Complex’s iconic ice oval.

Family patriarch Patrick, 63, son Chad, 36, and granddaughter Khloe, 13, skimmed the Derby Track ice last weekend racing a total of eight classes on five vintage snowmobiles — three family-favorite Polaris sleds, a Yamaha and a Rupp. Together, the Silers brought nearly a century of sledding experience to the Vintage World Championship Snowmobile Derby.

Said Patrick of the family’s enduring multi-generational fondness for Minnesota-made Polaris sleds, “If it isn’t Polaris, it isn’t right.”

Khloe was running a 1978 Polaris TX250 at the 2022 Vintage Derby, while her dad Chad was running three sleds over Vintage Weekend — a 1979 Polaris TXC440 Fan, a 1992 Polaris 440 IFS, and a tunnel-mount super mod 1972 Rupp 440 Magnum that famously won three classes for Jay Sperry Jr. at the 2006 Vintage Derby.

A high end appliance technician by trade, fourth-year Vintage Derby competitor Chad is a 2021 Derby Track Super Stock 440 liquid champion.

“It’s a lot of work, personally, to have three generations here, but all the work is worth it because I get here to be with my dad and my oldest daughter,” he said. “We love it. We race every weekend all winter long. We enjoy the competition, going fast and winning.”

Middle schooler Khloe, a second-year Vintage Derby racer, proved her mettle last year on the ice oval as a runner-up in Ages 10-12 competition.

“It’s fun, it’s challenging,” she said. “If you overthink things, it won’t come out well, but if you have confidence in yourself as you go out you’ll do good.”

Flooring salesman Patrick, after taking a support role in the family’s racing endeavors at the Derby Track the past two years, took to the ice oval himself this year, racing an award-winning and “great running” 1979 Yamaha ET250-C Enticer.

“As a Polaris fan it socks me that I’ll be sitting on a Yamaha, but it’s okay, because if it brings me to victory, I don’t care,” he laughs. “We’ll see how I do. This is my first year racing here. I have not raced this track. I am humbly anticipating to win.”

The Vintage World Championship Derby is near and dear to their hearts.

“It’s the big daddy of them all — this is the championship,” Patrick said of the Derby Complex’s draw for the family. “This track is like no other track in North America. The camaraderie here amongst racers is the best. We all celebrate each other. You walk away with the championship, it’s a big deal. We live for this.”

Despite the decades spanning the three Siler generations, there’s a mutual love of vintage sleds.

“Of course, I was born and raised in the era,” said Patrick, who normally races a 1978 Polaris 340TX. “As my son puts it, ‘You guys were in the coolest era. What are we gonna be known for? A cell phone? You guys had the best cars, the best snowmobiles, the best motorcycles. You had the greatest stuff.’ It (vintage sleds) is what we were raised up with, and so it brings us back to our youth, and now I get to see it through racing with my son and my granddaughter. It’s just in our blood.”

Chad said part of the family’s love for vintage sled racing is its wide circle of popularity and the close-knit nature of the vintage racing community.

“Vintage has waaaaay more participants,” he noted. “There’s over 900 entries today. Next weekend, with the new oval sleds, there might be 200. The competition. The camaraderie. We’re all good friends. You can walk to any trailer and everyone will bend over backwards to help you out and make sure you’re on track. Even though we’re fierce competitors when we’re on the track, we’re all here to help each other, too.”

Admittedly, the Siler family ties can be put to the test during the myriad challenges of races like Vintage Weekend, but those ties are still bound strong at the end of the racing day.

“Being together is amazing, but it can also be stressful,” Patrick explained. “When it’s race time it’s race time and emotions can get in the way. Different personality styles can be challenging because we all are competitive — and we’re all Type A personalities. So there has to be a lot of grace, a lot of patience and understanding. But at the end of the day we all hug each other and we love each other. We celebrate with each other. We weep with each other. Family is important. We have been blessed. As the patriarch and spiritual leader of the family, there’s a lot of people praying — and we pray together.”

Patrick, who started riding on a snowmobile at age three as the youngest of six boys under the watchful guidance of his late father, mid-Michigan sled racer and small car dealer John H. Siler, said the family feels blessed to be supported by a whole host of “prayer warrior” family and friends, either on-site at the Derby Track or watching livestream back home, including daughter and son-in-law Brandi and Rory Brower, daughter-in-law Kaylee Siler, and grandkids Skylnn Siler and Sam and Ben Brower.

“We look to the Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and we depend on Him for everything we do,” said Patrick. “Without Him we’d be nothing.”

In addition to the prayer support, there’s also gratitude and thanksgiving among the Silers for the financial support of their two underwriting team owners — Wolfe Motor Sports owner Ron Wolfe on the Sprints side and Brownlee Boys Racing owner Rob Brownlee on the Enduro side.

“The team owners are generous, they’re very, very generous,” said Patrick. “If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Without that support we wouldn’t be here, because we don’t have the finances but they do. Without the owners, we don’t have a team. They do it out of love because they’ve been racing all their lives.”

The Silers are also grateful for the cadre of nearly a dozen family, friends and other snowmobile racing enthusiasts that provide behind-the-scenes support for them, Wolfe Motor Sports and Brownlee Brothers Racing.

“It takes a whole team,” said Patrick. “We have cooks that keep us all going. We have mechanics. It takes an entire team to make it work.”