POWNAL — Ben Humphrey kept asking – begging he says – for the same thing. He wanted a snowmobile.

“I begged and pleaded and eventually got a very old sled to start on,” Humphrey said.

One wish granted begat another.

“Then my neighbor asked me if wanted to try racing,” Humphrey said. “So then for every birthday and Christmas I would always ask, ‘Can I race them?’ ”

Eventually, Humphrey wore down his parents, Bob and Jane Humphrey, again.

Ben Humphrey of Pownal usually goes about 60 mph across various terrain while competing in races.

Ben Humphrey of Pownal usually goes about 60 mph across various terrain while competing in races. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

“I guess I had to get convinced that this was something that he was going to take seriously,” said Bob Humphrey, a registered Maine guide who writes a hunting column for the Maine Sunday Telegram.

Now 18, the 2016 graduate of Freeport High is very serious about cross country snowmobile racing. Last winter he also began to try his hand at the alternative snocross, an arena-style event that highlights jumps.

Humphrey has raced snowmobiles for five seasons. Like most sports, the first year included a steep learning curve.

“I wasn’t good at all and I was exhausted. I wasn’t prepared at all,” he said. “I fell off and I crashed, and I did this and that for the first couple of races, and then kind of slowed myself down and controlled the sled, and I eventually learned how to keep on the sled, how to corner better, how to control it better. I practiced a lot around the yard as much as I could.”

He won junior championships in the now-defunct United States Cross Country Snowmobiling East tour in 2013 and 2014, and was runner-up in 2015 when he began racing in open classes against adults. This past winter, Humphrey competed on the Rock Maple Racing circuit, winning the Sport Factory Stock and finishing second in the Sport Open.

“I want to do it as long as I can and as much as I can,” Humphrey said.

Humphrey’s Yamaha snowmobile with a stock 4-stroke, 1,000 cc engine (and a price tag of $7,500-$9,500) can top out at 100 mph. He’s usually not going that fast over the varying cross-country terrain but an average speed of 60 mph is common. To increase traction, the machines have sharp inch-and-a-half studs affixed to the treads.

“Sometimes it definitely gets a little scary,” Humphrey said. “It can definitely be dangerous between hitting a tree or hitting someone else, or just hitting a bump wrong and getting bucked off.”