Thursday, February 19, 2009

Big weekend for Snocross Feb. 21-22!


As I look out my office window this fine Thursday morning, the snow is falling at a pretty good clip. It's right on cue, because this coming weekend is without question a BIG one for snocross racing here in the Northeast.
For starters, Rock Maple Racing (RMR) is headed for the old Mount Whittier ski area in West Ossipee, NH. This is a points-paying event for Central & East series teams, PLUS, fans who attend on Saturday are in for an extra treat. Warm weather and deteriorating track conditions two weeks ago in Stamford, NY, forced RMR officials to postpone the Pro & Semi-Pro finals. These final rounds will be completed in Ossipee on Saturday! That's right, a Pro Stock FINAL at 9:30 a.m. this Saturday. Plus, there will be a raffle for two new Yamaha sleds and a trailer (a $20,000 pkg) with ticket quantity limited to just 2,000. Plus, the good folks from the Greater Ossipee Area Chamber of Commerce are bringing in the popular Rave-X Aerial stunt/display team in from Maine. These cats do some CRAZY tricks on sleds; they've become the "Slednecks" of the East if you will. It's a natural fit with snocross and I applaud the Chamber for this move. So TONS of great racing all weekend, a killer raffle, lots of delicious food (I've had pulled pork down there from a local vendor that's to die for) and some of the nicest hosts I've ever met.
Next up: The Grand Prix de Valcourt, just outside the tiny town of Valcourt, Quebec. This is the 27th edition, and it's the most impressive gathering of snowmobile race teams (both Pro sno-x and ice oval) held annually anywhere on the planet. ISOC put on a FANtastic show last weekend in Farmington, NY, with the Arctic Cat Eastern Nationals, now it's time to bring the BIG show to Valcourt. This is Ski-doo's 50th Anniversary celebration, and it's going to be huge! A big presentation before Sunday's finals, the great Yvon DuHamel will be there - a NOT TO MISS gathering if you're a fan of snowmobile racing. I hope you'll have a chance to attend one of these two events - both will offer excellent winter-time motor sports entertainment. It's great to watch those NASCAR races on TV, but once in a while we must rise up off the couch, put on some warm clothes and actually get a life. I'll see you at the track!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Finally! It's time to go racing at Daytona


After a long off-season and rather cold and snowy first half of winter, the time has finally arrived to wave the green flag at Daytona International Speedway. We've dispensed with the formalities of the Bud Shootout (Kevin Harvick, winner), the Gatorade Twin 150s (Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch) and have established the starting lineups for Friday night's NextEra Energy Resources 250 Camping World Truck Series race and the 51st annual Daytona 500.
The truck race promises to be a real barn-burner, and it's hard to believe they've been competing at the World Center of Racing for a decade now. Qualifying for the Camping World 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race (Saturday, 1 p.m. on ESPN2) is set for 3 p.m. Friday. Daytona is always full of drama and excitement; human interest stories and jubilation. Grab your favorite snacks and fluids (preferably non-alcoholic) and gather 'round the TV this weekend. It's gonna be BIG....
And how 'bout that ol' Bill Elliott? Great to see the veterans like Bil and Mark Martin (starts outside the front row for the 500) running so well in 2009. Go get 'em on Sunday guys! Mark is as stoked as I've ever seen him going into Daytona. Talk about a guy who has paid his dues...

On the snocross side of things, Rock Maple Racing has no official points race this weekend, but several RMR teams are headed for the Finger Lake Gaming Center & Resort in Farmington, NY, to participate in the ISOC Eastern Nationals. Good luck to all of our northeastern riders as they battle the best from the Great Lakes region and points beyond! For more information, go to www.fingerlakessnocross.com.

Last weekend was another mellow, relaxed one spent away from a race track. Instead, it was time to finish removing snow and ice from the roof before the big thaw (and rains) hit this past week. Luckily, the task was completed without serious bodily injury. Wednesday (Feb. 11) I was actually up on the roof in my short with big winter boots removing the last of the ice ridge. But alas, as this post is being written, the temp is dropping and we'll be returning to more winter-like conditions for the foreseeable future. Oh well, with a trip to Vermont scheduled for next Friday through Sunday (Feb. 20-22) to snowmobile, I welcome this change! I can't wait to get back out on those Fabulous VAST trails in the beautiful Northeast Kingdom. There is NOTHING better than riding a nice sled on a groomed trail through the Vermont countryside. Try it once and you'll see why I could elaborate on this subject for days...

Final note for tonight: on Sunday, Feb. 22, I'll be spending the day at one of, if not THE biggest snowmobile racing event in North America. It's the annual Grand Prix de Valcourt, in Valcourt, Quebec. Valcourt is the birthplace and home to Ski-doo, the brand that started it all back in 1959. Ski-doo is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a special display at the Museum J. Armand Bombardier (the bus is topping there!) and special activities at the Circuit Yvon Duhamel. I covered this prestigious event for three straight years (2001 through 2003) for George Campbell's www.neracing.com, and loved every minute of it. I had always heard about the Gran Prix and wanted to catch the excitement for myself. It is EVEN bigger and more action-packed than you can imagine. Just a FANtastic weekend filled with the TOP snocross and ice oval racers on the planet battling for BIG trophies, good purse and of course bragging rights for a whole year. If you EVER have a chance to attend the Grand Prix de Valcourt, do it! You'll be blown away.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Great off-weekend close to home


After a great day down in Epping, NH, last Sunday, this past weekend was spent close to home. Saturday brought a trip over to Lost Valley to view the ice sculptures being prepared as part of the annual Auburn Winter Festival. The Boston-based artist who creates these beautifully-crafted pieces absolutely outdid himself for 2009 - several excellent pieces including a sea serpent and a unicorn. The afternoon was spent removing snow and ice from the roof - oh, boy, what fun! Sunday was certainly a fun day, with a ride in the Pisten Bully at Lost Valley, followed by a trip to Sabattus Lake for the radar runs (local sled club) and automobile racing (New Meadows Ice Racing Assn). Took a ride in the "Centaur," a twin-tracked grooming machine built in Ontario and powered by a 38-hp four-cyl. Isuzu diesel. A short while later, Debra took me for a nice ride up the lake in an "Argo" amphibious ATV (with tracks), one of the most unique and FUN vehicles I've ever seen. Of course, the fun had to end and we came home to do a few household chores, start the fire, etc. Overall, a great weekend - but I'm THRILLED that NASCAR is back on track this coming Friday for Bud Shootout (Sat. night on FOX) practice at Daytona. PLUS, Rock Maple gets back in action in Stamford, NY (Feb. 7-8), and ISOC is running at the famed Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota. RMR, ISOC and NASCAR all in action on the same weekend. Is life about to get Revved up, or what? Bring it on!