Less than 24 hours before the inaugural Maine 100 Pro-Am Cross Country Snowmobile Race scheduled for March 20, things were looking very grim, or more specifically, very brown. A week of temperatures in the 50s in Greenville had melted the snow off all of Bullwinkle’s raceway, leaving only dirt.

“When we took the USCC (United States Cross Country Snowmobile Racing Association) people around the course on Friday afternoon, with all that warm weather during week, the last mile and a half of the course was all dirt, although there was 4 feet of snow on the 10 miles of the course that went through the woods. For a few hours, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., it looked as though the race was canceled,” said Tom McCormick, president of the Moosehead Riders Snowmobile Club and an organizer of the race. “I called John Simko, the Greenville town manager, and told him the race was canceled unless we could put it on the lake.”

Coincidentally, Simko was on his way to the Maine wardens’ banquet, where he asked Maj. Gregg Sanborn for permission to hold the race on the lake. Again, by sheer coincidence or maybe through divine intervention, the owner of the race track, Doug Whitney, already had a permit for ice racing on the lake.

“The warden service had safety concerns, and rightly so, because races of this magnitude in the past had problems. When I met with Maj. Gregg Sanborn, he knew we had a lot of volunteers and emergency personnel in place to ensure safety during the race,” said Simko. “At the eleventh hour when the major discovered we had a permit for ice racing, we were able to use that if we followed the course.”

10:30 a.m. the next day, the race was in full swing. More than 500 spectators attended the event and more than 50 racers took part in the numerous races throughout the day in several categories for professionals and amateurs. Racers and spectators came from all over the Northeast, as well as Minnesota and Maryland. The plan is to hold the race again next year, although it may be held earlier in March when there is a greater chance of a better snowpack.

“It was a great building block for us and we will have it next year. The USCC is setting up an Eastern race circuit and they were really impressed with what they saw here in Greenville,” said McCormick. “They are looking at having races in two other Maine spots, as well.”

STORING YOUR SLED

Now that spring and warm weather are upon us, there are things you should do when storing your sled to protect it during the warmer months. Eric Newcomb, service manager at Reynolds Motorsports in Buxton, recommends removing the battery from your sled, but if you are unable to do that, the battery should be charged once a month.

“If you don’t do those things, the battery will die and will sulfate, which means a white chalky substance builds up on the plates of the battery. The battery may or may not come back to life. If you don’t do this, it shortens the life of the battery,” said Newcomb.

“We also recommend that all carburetors, usually on older models, be emptied of fuel. Also, gas tanks should be full and treated with a high quality stabilizer.”

That is because the main enemy of the stored sled is moisture. The goal is to keep moisture out of the gas tank. The engine should be sprayed with a lubricant called fogging oil that coats moving parts. The oil needs to be changed in four-stroke engines before the sled is put into storage.

Once the preparation work is done, the sled should be stored in a cool, dry place, such as a garage or a basement, and not in a snowmobile trailer, which many people do — unfortunately.

“Trailers get so hot inside. Store your sled with its track off the ground,” said Newcomb.

“The biggest mistake people make is doing nothing — just parking the sled and forgetting about it. That leads to repair bills in the fall.

“The sled should also be thoroughly cleaned and washed to keep the sleds from rusting out.”

SEASON WRAP-UP

If you ask someone who has been around for awhile, it has been one of the weirdest and warmest winters in memory. Still, there was some great snowmobiling.

“Some years it’s chicken and some years it’s feathers. It was a little shorter than we would like, but there is always next year,” said Bob Meyers, executive director of the Maine Snowmobile Association. “We went to the snowmobile show previewing 2011 sleds on March 15 at the Augusta Civic Center and it was packed. People were very happy and enthusiastic.”

It was also one of the safest snowmobiling seasons on record, with only one fatality the entire season.

 

Cathy Genthner is a Registered Maine Guide and licensed by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife to guide snowmobile trips. She can be reached at:

[email protected]