LINCOLN, Maine — Cameron Butler knew almost immediately that he wouldn’t win it all.
The 7-year-old snowmobile racer easily had won the first heat of the 120 cc stock class of the Lincoln Snowhounds Snowmobile Club’s 10th annual Sno-Cross races Saturday, but the finals heat was lost to him from the beginning, he said.
“The guy that was ahead of me I knew was going to win because right when I started he had the lead,” Butler said. “I think the other sled went faster. In the first lap we almost got in a crash. Then he took it over and got a big lead. I knew then there was no way I could pass him.”
Butler started the day with what his mother laughingly admitted was a piece of distinctly unmotherly advice:
“I told him, ‘Don’t run anybody over, but don’t let off the throttle,’” said Kim Pinkham, 34, of Lincoln.
More than 900 people attended the first of the two-day race event at the Snowhounds clubhouse on Town Farm Road on Saturday, organizers said. Championship rounds commenced at 11 a.m. Sunday after racer registration from 8 to 10 a.m. Race results were not available Sunday night.
Depending on the size of their snowmobiles, the racers who competed ranged from Butler’s age to adult professionals traveling in excess of 60 mph on the mogul-filled track. A team of paramedics stood by in case of crashes, of which there were three or four. No serious injuries were reported.
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. Organizers declined to say how much the event typically makes.
For club president Alan Smith, Saturday was a good day after a week of hard work and, with the overnight heavy rains, high winds and unseasonably warm weather, a harrowing night.
“We have been up here all week until 1 or 2 [a.m.] preparing the track and then it just started to pour,” said Smith, who was worried that when he awoke in the morning, the track would be washed away. “I got into bed last night and cried.”
But while it softened the track considerably, ruining what had been a spell of several weeks of almost ideal snowmobiling weather, the rain didn’t do anything like the damage Smith expected.
“It’s OK,” he said. “It’s soft, and the guys [racers] are tearing it up, but it works fine.”
So did the snow around the clubhouse. More than 100 snowmobiles were parked in the clubhouse field as sledders used the races as an excuse to come by snowmobile from hundreds of miles around and travel the Lincoln Lakes region’s extensive trail system.
Others, like Heather Watson of Glenburn, came to the event for the family fun it represents.
“It’s a nice way to get out and enjoy the winter weather,” said Watson, whose husband, Brent, is a flight nurse who was serving as a race paramedic, one of as many as 30 volunteers who helped make the event possible.
Watson also reconnected with Kim Pinkham, with whom she went to high school and hadn’t seen in years, she said.
Pinkham came to see her son race.
“This is the only place he races. It’s nice to see him on a different track besides the one around our house,” she said. “That one is getting worn out.”
His second-place trophy was the seventh trophy he has won at the Lincoln Sno-Cross, Cameron said proudly.
Pinkham didn’t worry that her son would get hurt racing or that she, in encouraging him, would become a nightmarish “Little League mom,” urging her son to win at all costs.
“He’s a really good racer and he loves doing it,” she said, “and as for me being a Little League mom, well, we haven’t gotten there yet. God knows if we will.
“It could happen,” she joked. “I’m sure he will be doing that too.”