BANGOR, Maine — They spent 14 hours making snow on Saturday before receiving a much-needed, 5-inch snowfall.
The organizers of the East Coast Snocross Paul Bunyan Invitational, which will be held Saturday and Sunday at Bass Park in Bangor, are thankful for the snow, the cooperation from the local community and the winter weather.
The event, which kicks off East Coast Snocross’s nine-race schedule, is being hosted by the Eastern Maine Community College Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise funds that benefit EMCC in Bangor.
Hollywood Casino, Dysart’s and Lane Construction Corp. are the other primary sponsors.
“That snowfall did make life a lot easier. We’re building the track right now, and it’s shaping up pretty good,” East Coast Snocross general manager Shawn Achilles said Thursday. “They brought in another 120 truckloads of snow on Wednesday.”
He said a predicted 1-3 inches of snow on Friday morning will help “bind up the track.”
Snow groomers, the vehicles used to spread the snow to create the course, arrived on Wednesday, so Achilles said there will be a practice session 1 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Friday.
Lane Construction, which has an office in Bangor, has spent the past two weeks helping the organizers prepare for the event by trucking in snow. Snow has been brought in from parking lots around Bangor, Bangor International Airport and the roof of the Hollywood Casino.
“And the city [of Bangor] hauled in quite a bit one day. They had six or eight trucks hauling snow,” said Ed Nason of Lane Construction.
Achilles said Lane Construction has done a lot of work but noted that there have been plenty of other people and organizations who have been contributing.
Jennifer Khavari, the project coordinator, concurred that there has been an outpouring of support from multiple sources.
“Two weeks ago, around Christmas time, we started to get really nervous that there wouldn’t be any snow,” said Khavari on Wednesday.
“We told everyone to relax because we would make snow. Sunday River loaned us a bunch of snow-[making] guns, and the Bangor Fire Department has been extremely generous with their materials so we knew we had the capacity to make snow. That was the least of our concerns.”
Khavari said the primary concern was generating interest in the snocross event in order to make it financially feasible.
”Everything is coming together impeccably,” stated Khavari. “It’s a perfect storm of goodness and generosity for the [EMCC] Foundation at this moment. The race course is being built. The sponsors have been incredibly generous with not only their time [but their contributions].”
Hermon Mountain and Bangor Motorsports also have chipped in.
Khavari said another positive has been the quality of the snow being trucked in.
“It has been all good, clean snow,” said Khavari. “We were worried about the integrity of the track and the race. We wanted to make sure there wasn’t any oil in the snow.”
“Every event has challenges. You expect that. But we’ve worked through them this week,” said CarolAnne Dube, the executive director of the EMCC Foundation.
She called the community support “amazing.”
Achilles said the course itself will be four-tenths of a mile, which makes it one of the longer tracks on the schedule. The course is a series of bumps, jumps and banked curves including the table top, which is the highest jump.
“That will be roughly 12 feet high and 80 feet long,” said Achilles.
There will be heat races in each class, and those who don’t qualify for the final will be able to do so in the last-chance qualifying races. There will be heats, last-chance qualifiers and finals in several classes on both days.
Phil Whipple, the media relations director for East Coast Snocross, said he expects 300-350 entries.
Whipple said the heat races can range from three to six laps and the finals can be anywhere from 14-20 laps. There can be as many as 15 sleds in the final.
The Pro Open class headlines the list and will feature defending series champ Danny Poirier and his teammate, Mathieu Morin, who are both from Quebec and have both participated in the Winter X Games.
Poirier has won four championships, and Morin claimed the crown in 2011.
Two of the favorites in the Pro Lite class will be Wade Acker or Bristol, Vermont, and Chris Coleman from Albany, New York.
Pro Open snowsleds have 160 horsepower, while the Pro Lite sleds have 120 horsepower.
This also will mark the first of three qualifying events for the Triple Crown Series in the Pro Open, Pro Lite and Sport classes. They will be contested on Saturday.
Round Two will be held in on Jan. 24 Louiseville, Quebec, and the finals will be held on Feb. 24 during the Grand Prix de Valcourt in Quebec.
Khavari said they are expecting “6,000-10,000 spectators” for the event.
Gates open at 9 a.m. each day, and racing begins shortly afterward.
The finals conclude by 3:30.
The admission is $20 per day for adults or $30 for a weekend pass. Children 7 and under will be admitted free with a paying adult. Pit passes are an extra $10.
For advance tickets, visit www.emccfoundation.org/snox.