LINCOLN, Maine — Several tons of trucked-in snow — besides the generous helping Mother Nature already has provided — two tractors, several bales of hay, a lot of orange plastic fencing and a snowmobiler’s eye for engineering will transform an open field into a snowmobile racetrack this weekend.
Volunteers were working day and night shifts this week to build the twisting, mogul-filled track, which usually runs about 1,400 feet long and 9 feet high and wide, for the Lincoln Snowhounds Snowmobile Club’s 11th annual Sno-Cross Races set for this weekend.
One volunteer, former club president Alan Smith, said he expected that track conditions will be just about perfect when the races start on Saturday at the club’s Town Farm Road location.
“The wet snow that fell [last weekend and Monday night] will do us a lot of good,” Smith said as he plowed mounds of snow on Tuesday. “The snow we had a few weeks ago was so fine there was nothing to it. Now it will all pack together nicely.”
The club’s largest annual fundraiser, more than 900 people attended the first day of the two-day race event at the Snowhounds clubhouse in 2009, with several hundred more the following day.
The 2010 races were canceled due to a lack of snow, a problem club President Rob Thornton is grateful to have avoided this year.
“This one will be very, very big. You have a couple things coming together,” Thornton said. “There’s more snow here than in Northern Maine so you have better conditions for people riding in on their snowmobiles.”
And conditions on Lincoln’s more than 100 miles of trails — not counting Interconnected Trail System 82, a major 25-mile east-west trail corridor that links to the north-south-running ITS 83 near Seboeis Lake, and ITS 81 near Burlington — are great, Thornton said.
The club brokered a compromise with several landowners, Buckley Avenue residents and the Town Council late last month that reopened ITS 82, much to the pleasure of several Route 6 businesses, after two landowners denied the club access to the old trail route.
Thornton and Smith said they hoped several thousand people would come to the races this year, as their proceeds help pay costs associated with the grooming of Lincoln’s snowmobile trails, which are an economic engine for the Lincoln Lakes region. Club members volunteer to groom the trails, but need funds for equipment, fuel and insurance, among other things.
“This is what keeps the club going all year,” Smith said.
The cancellation of last year’s event makes predicting racer and spectator attendance this year difficult, Smith said.
“We are hearing that we are going to get a good sled turnout,” he said.
Thirty-seven Lincoln Lakes and Katahdin region businesses are the event’s major sponsors. They helped provide a $4,000 purse that will be split among the winners of some classes.
Admission is $10 for people age 13 and older, $5 for ages 5-12, and free for children younger than 5.