LINCOLN, Maine — With the best snowmobile riding that he has seen in 20 years, Alan Smith expects packed trails and stands at the Lincoln Snowhounds Snowmobile Club’s 10th annual Sno-Cross races this weekend, he said Tuesday.
Everything is in place, the club’s president said, to draw record numbers of sledders and spectators. The area’s 100 miles of trails, which already had a base of some three feet, sport up to 16 inches of fresh snow from Sunday night’s storm. Most of the half-mile, heavily moguled oval race track — a snowbank 9 feet high, 9 feet wide and about 1,400 feet long — is built.
Temperatures are expected to be in the 20s to low 30s and the nearest sledding event this weekend is in western New York.
“We already have people from Connecticut coming up to this race because they don’t want to travel the other way,” Smith said Tuesday.
“This will be the first year we don’t have to truck snow in for the track,” he added. “About three weeks ago we actually built a base up for the track, and with all this new snow we should have plenty of snow to make the track.”
As many as 70 racers and 800 spectators have participated in the races daily during previous years, Smith said.
The event is the club’s largest annual fundraiser and a boon to local businesses, of which 36 sponsor the event and help pay the $10,000 the race costs to run. Smith declined to say how much the event typically makes.
As of Tuesday, 18 of the 24 rooms available at the Briarwood Motor Inn of Lincoln had been booked for the weekend races, said Sue Troulis, the inn’s manager.
“We usually are ‘No vacancy’ for the races every year,” Troulis said. “I don’t think I will have a room left in either building.”
Racers come from as far away as Colorado to participate, but most come from Maine, the other New England states and New York, she said.
“It’s just one weekend a year. It doesn’t hurt but it doesn’t make or break the business,” she said.
Many race fans come to the races on their snowmobiles after riding town trails, Smith said. In previous years, about 200 sleds have been parked on the club’s front field on Town Farm Road.
“The trails are excellent,” Smith said. “I haven’t seen it this good in 20 years. They’re nice and firm and there’s a lot of snow out there. They’re very well-groomed.”
Only the depressed economy has kept this from being a record year for snowmobiling, Troulis said.
“I haven’t seen them [the trails] really crowded,” Smith said. “I think people are riding closer to home.”
The event’s sponsors, a dozen club volunteers and area landowners that allow trails to be run through portions of their properties all make the races possible, he said.
“If it weren’t for them, there would be no place to ride,” Smith said.