Snocross races expected to draw 300

Craig residents can expect to hear the rumble of snowmobile engines as 300 people descend on the city for the Warrior Snocross and Freestyle races in Loudy-Simpson Park on Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m.

Bobby Hankins, of Action Motorsports, said the races should be some wild entertainment, with speeding sleds and plenty of crashes.

"They say soccer and motocross are the most physically intense sports," Hankins said. "But snocross must be a close third."

Much like motocross, snocross races take place on a closed circuit track with rough terrain and jumps. Hankins described it as an endurance race. Qualifier rounds are usually six to 10 laps, and finals are 10 to 20 laps.

The half-mile race track at Loudy-Simpson Park is wide open, so spectators shouldn't be left standing around waiting for the snowmobiles to come by again.

At the event, there will be six racing classes, juniors, sport, semi-pro, pro, women, and masters, for racers age 40 and over.

"Some of the best drivers from all around come out for the pros. That's where everyone shines," Hankins said. Some racers will come from as far as South Dakota.

WSF will also host a mountain class for local snowmobile enthusiasts. Hankins has challenged locals "to come out and see what they got."

Anyone interested in taking Hankins up on his challenge can call 826-0060 for more information. Registration for mountain class races will take place at Action Motorsports, at 390 Yampa Ave, between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. Friday. Some safety equipment is required, but Hankins said the store could lend the equipment to interested "Sledheads."

At a race last weekend in Steamboat Springs, the Polaris team, sponsored by Action Motorsports, performed well, placing in seven of the 12 race classes.

Indeed, Austin Corson, 13, placed first in his age group, despite the fact that it was his first time on a racetrack. He performed well enough that his coach and sponsor, Phil Vallem, decided to bump him up to the next age group, juniors ages 14-15. Despite being on a snowmobile only half the size of his competitors' machines, Corson placed third in the class.

The WSF racing circuit also races in Crested Butte, Encampment, Wyo., Silverthorne and Winter Park.

This weekend's races were orignally scheduled to take place in Hayden. Some last minute technicalities led to it being moved to Craig.

Along with Phil Vallem, Hankins has been rushing to get Craig ready for this weekend's race. On Tuesday, the Moffat County Board of Commissioners offered WSF the use of the park for no charge.

"This is a neat deal to bring to the community this time of year," Commissioner Darryl Steele said. "Anything we can do to circulate money in the community."

Since Tuesday, Vallem has been grooming snow that Jim Bower of Bower Construction has been hauling in from the park parking lot and the Craig Airport. It takes 60 to 80 hours to build a snocross track, Vallem said.

Before the track is ready for racing, jumps need to be built and hay bales need added to the curves. And when it's all over, Hankins said they'll clean the park up so well no one will ever know anyone was there.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at rgebhart@craigdailypress.com.

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