East Coast Snocross is moving 4.3 miles from Bangor to Hermon in January.
Series owner Kurt Gagne, who said in January that the event wouldn’t return to Bass Park in Bangor next season because of poor attendance and a $5,000 fee charged for the use of the facility, announced Friday that Hermon stock car racetrack Speedway 95 would be the site of next year’s races Jan. 27-28.
The snowmobile racing event had been held at Bass Park for the last three seasons.
“We gave it an honest try at Bass Park, but attendance never quite met our expectations for that market area,” Gagne said in a statement. “We felt a change was needed and Speedway 95 has a long tradition of hosting great races of all kinds.
“I hope Maine race fans will come out to enjoy the thrills of snocross,” he added.
Terms of the lease agreement were not disclosed in the statement.
Speedway 95 promoter Nick Huff, a former snocross rider, and office manager and head scorer Kim Baker Allen were pleased with the news.
“We have been looking for new activities,” Baker Allen said. “We pay taxes and property insurance year-round. I’m excited about this. I can’t wait.”
In addition to stock car racing, Speedway 95 hosts other activities such as the Monster Trucks.
Baker Allen pointed out that there used to be snowmobile racing at Speedway 95 in the 1970s.
“Ever since we saw the decline in attendance and the higher lease rate at Bass Park, we wanted to move in on the deal,” Huff said. “We have plenty of room and plenty of seating and parking. Hopefully, people will come out, and we’ll be able to do it the following year, too.”
The races will be held on a course established in the infield, not on the actual Speedway 95 racetrack.
Huff served as a starter at the races last year and intends to be back as one in January.
“They’re always looking for local help,” said Huff, who noted that East Coast Snocross doesn’t have enough employees to fully staff the races.
He said the fact Speedway 95 is easily accessible and not in town should enable racers and fans to avoid traffic congestion.
He added that it will give the track some good exposure.
“I love East Coast Snocross,” said Huff, whose racing career was interrupted a few years ago by a broken arm suffered during an event. “People like seeing the wrecks although they don’t want anybody to get hurt. That’s what brings in the customers.”
Speedway 95 owner Del Merritt’s one concern was the damage the snowmobile haulers might do to the track, but Huff said the ground should be frozen enough to prevent the track from sustaining any damage.
Snocross involves snowmobile racers negotiating a course with tight turns, banks and steep jumps that launch them as high as 30 feet.
It also was announced that the series would eliminate highly-modified sleds so the Pro Open class will be contested among lower-cost stock sleds.
“That will allow lower-budget racers to move up and the sleds won’t be as loud,” said Huff, who was in favor of the move. “It will be more affordable.”