TURIN Is there anything more exciting than watching a snowmobile trudge 660 feet up a ski slope?
Spectators will be able to judge for themselves when the Snowmobile Hill Climb races return to Snow Ridge Ski Resort for their ninth year Saturday, Feb. 15.
Racer wise, we could have 250 to 300 racers, said Scott Simmons, race director. We draw racers from all over the Northeast, a lot from Pennsylvania, Western New York, some as far away as Ohio.
The event has been known to draw crowds of as many as 2,000 to 3,000 spectators, and theres no question why. The idea is simple. Snowmobilers register in classes as small as 500 stock up to unlimited modified sleds. Then, they race each other up South Slope.
The race is one of several organized throughout the state by Power Sled Racing Organization, in affiliation with International Snowmobile Racing Inc. Another race is set for Feb. 22 in Brockville.
For spectators, there will be a bonfire on the hill, as well as an open-door policy.
They can come through and talk to racers, crews, Mr. Simmons said. It gives a hands-on approach, so they can be a part of it, not just watch it.
Entrywise, the race may be the biggest in the Northeast, Mr. Simmons speculated. Some big teams have even spent about $5,000 to modify their sleds.
Organizers had hoped to run the event twice this season, as they did last year. But the race set for Jan. 11 was canceled because of rain. Mr. Simmons said the group hopes to make the event up later this year, but ultimately it comes down to weather and availability within the snowmobile racing circuit.
All help is pretty much volunteered, he said.
Participation in the hill climb is open to all. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with racing starting at 5 p.m. The fee to compete is $25 per class. The spectator fee is $10.
Its a good, safe place for people to come and compete, Mr. Simmons said. Safe track, multiple classes, you can run multiple times and you get to race up a ski slope.
Previously, the races have been held in conjunction with the Boonville Snow Festival, set this year for next Friday to Sunday. But sometimes races would run past midnight; the switch aims to create a more manageable event. Organizers are partnering with the Copenhagen Fire Departments snowmobile drag races to be held that Sunday. The drag races benefit the departments firematic drill team.