MEDWAY, Maine — Anyone who wants to snowmobile without waiting for the snow can find several hot races to participate in starting Friday.
The Katahdin Area Snowmobile Racing Affiliates will offer “Snow Sled Racing on the Grass” at the East Branch Sno-Rovers Club headquarters on Aug. 24-26.
The three-day event features amateur races that start at 5 p.m. on Friday, said Jim Stanley, one of the race organizers. The gates will open at 10 a.m. Friday, with practice sessions from noon to 4 p.m.
“We have made the rules very simple. You can take your sled out and we got a class for it,” Stanley said Thursday. “I am hoping that the amateur races go over better than everything else because that brings new blood to the sport.”
“I hope everybody that wants to race brings a sled,” Stanley added.
Club members formed Katahdin Area Snowmobile Racing Affiliates to celebrate snowmobiling, carve a unique niche in the Maine outdoors sports scene with snowmobile drag racing, and develop a new revenue stream for the Katahdin region economy, which already has world-renowned snowmobile trails.
Located at the clubhouse on Hathaway Road, about a mile from the East Millinocket line, the snowmobile drag racing track is the only one in Maine not built on a waterway, club members have said. Club members have run races at the track two or three times a winter over the last two years, drawing several thousand spectators to the area.
Maine hasn’t had a racing-organization-sanctioned snowmobile grass racing event in more than a decade, Stanley said. Club members hope to create an event that rivals in size events such as New Hampshire’s Race into Winter event on Oct. 5-7 in Fremont, which draws several thousand spectators.
But they do not expect to see several thousand people this weekend, Stanley said.
“If we can get 1,000 people through the gate this weekend, that would not be an unrealistic figure,” Stanley said. “Being the first time, we’re not really sure what the numbers are going to be. I am hoping that it’s a decent turnout. We are not setting ourselves up for failure, put it that way.”
The term grass races is a misnomer, at least in this instance. The track is 150 feet of hard-packed clay followed by several hundred feet of grass, Stanley said. Club volunteers have done more than 80 hours of work on the track.
Gates will open at 10 a.m. Saturday, with registration ISR Class racing on Sunday from 7:30-9:30 a.m. Qualifying or testing rounds will start at 11 a.m. Saturday. Three rounds of races and race registrations will run before the professional shootout race begins at 6 p.m., according to the event schedule.
Race fees vary from $15 to $50 per racing class and tickets cost $5 per person Friday and $10 per person Saturday and Sunday. Anyone age 12 and under gets in for free.