Snowmobiles took to the air Sunday during the East Coast Snocross Series competition at Fonda Speedway.
Fans cheered as snowmobile riders raced around the snow-covered track, sailing off 10- to 15-foot-high jumps at speeds up to 60 mph.
The two-day event, the first of its kind at the speedway, drew between 800 and 900 people Saturday, despite pouring rain, according to speedway promoter Matt DeLorenzo. Between 1,200 and 1,500 fans flocked there Sunday, which was colder but mostly dry.
Workers made snow around the clock for five days in preparation for the event, despite the generous snow cover that was on the ground at the time. It turned out to be a smart decision, since the combination of rain and temperatures in the 50s on Saturday melted about half of what was put down on the track, DeLorenzo said.
The Snocross course, which included banked corners and a series of jumps, had a minimum snow base of 3 feet at the start of the competition. By Sunday afternoon, that base was getting pretty thin. Stockpiled snow was being trucked in to build it back up, DeLorenzo said.
“The weather is rough on the crew and the racers, but regardless of weather, we’re going to race,” said Fred Mang, race director and general manager for East Coast Snocross.
At least 150 competitors, some from as far away as Sweden and Quebec, participated in the event. Riders ranged in age from about 6 to 60.
Despite the high speeds, dizzying jumps and less-than-ideal snow conditions, the only injury as of early Sunday afternoon was one broken wrist, according to Mang.
“They take a beating out there, especially with the snow being real wet. It gets real rough quick,” said DeLorenzo.
A snowmobile driven by Joe Lemieux of St. Johnsbury, Vt., looked like it was going to run off the track and into a building Saturday, said track announcer Jim King.
“He got the lead coming out of the start and crashed on the first turn,” he recounted. “The sled went off the track, hit the wall, flipped over, landed back on its skis again. He got back on it and rode from the back to the front to win the race against a lot younger guys.”
The weekend competition was the second stop in the 10-stop East Coast Snocross 2013-2014 series.
Mang said Fonda Speedway is an excellent venue and he would definitely consider coming back.
DeLorenzo said he hopes to make Snocross an annual event.