A snowmobile race in Long Lake elicits winter memories of the 100 miler. The humming noise as the engine revs and the track spins, the smoky haze and familiar smell of snowmobile exhaust all tell a story of adrenaline, competition and passion for speed, the snowmobile race always revered as a Long Lake tradition. The ball field was crowded with trailers hailing from all over New York State. A roster of folks who have been traveling the winter circuit since the middle of January.
Phyllis and Bill Ryan were set up on the Town of Long Lake Roach Coach, grilling food, selling hot dogs and sodas for the Cybercreek Café. Pat Benton, Dick Farr, Ali Hamdan and Michelle Helms gathered at the base of the muddy road leading from the the Long Lake Central School parking lot onto the field collecting ten dollar entry fees.
Pat Benton exclaiming “everyone pays, even if they are racing. It’s a fund raiser for the Lions Club. Everyone has been polite and kind and really pulled together for this event. We are all pleased to see such a great turn out.” Lew Plumley popped down on the field hauling hay bales and orange cones pleased to see a good turnout, exclaiming they had twenty five more racers than the previous race in January. Whispers around the sledding circles spoke of a racer in Warrensburgh who had been injured and one of the races was designated a fundraiser for him, but details were elusive.
Sleds were transported from the field to the ice with ATV’s driven by Devin Freeman and Gregg Wallace with flat plywood trailers to help keep the path from the field to the ice passable. Bleachers were set up overlooking the pond, but the action was on the ice. Over 225 people gathered, pit crews, racers, time keepers, and spectators all gathered to watch the slushiest race of the season.
Catching up with Ryan Kitchen of Delmar, NY was a breath of fresh air. A junior in High School he exuded calmness and enthusiasm for his new sport. This is Ryan’s first season racing. His first season out of the gate was pretty successful. He hit the circuit in Booneville, Winthrop, Orangeburg as well as Long Lake. He took Home a 1st in Winthrop, a 2nd in Booneville and a 3rd in Long Lake. He rides on number 29 a Merc Trail Twister sled. Today’s race in the 340 Fan stock.
Ryan sported protective gear , covering his chest, knees, shoulders and his helmet. Ryan spoke of his race in Winthrop. “It was a very slushy track and I like to pass on the inside, but the track spins on the slush making it tough to pass on the outside” but he did it, taking home a 1st place win.
Brian Farr, Johnny Walker, Marty LaPlant are all ready acting as advisors, pit crew, and coaches. Gabe Farr, experienced rider, clues Ryan in about the track when he has time, gives hints to Ryan “Gabe tells me where to go, what to do, who not to be next to.“ At the starting line Ryan admits his thoughts go to “not getting cut off, not crashing and trying to pass on the outside” The fastest he’s been clocked this season was 60 mph in Booneville, but he anticipated hitting greater speeds on the Long Lake track this day as the crew changed gearing, making the sled go faster.
Spectators truly get their money’s worth watching the racers avoid crashing into each other and stretching their ham strings maximizing the G-forces as they round curve one. This final race demonstrated the confidence build as the season wore on. The race in January was plagued with a very slick and cold track and the racers were looser, sliding over the track, trying to get a handle on their sleds. This race exuded an air of confidence, racers hitting their stride as they round the corners, the weekends of racing providing lessons and experience that only gels with time.
It’s sad to say goodbye to winter, but we are also very pleased we had one and a great one at that. Our snowmobile trails are no longer being groomed and the ice is going out over outlets and running water and the channels are breaking up. Spring thaw came quickly.
A huge thank you to the Long Lake Lions Club for hosting a great day and to Mike Ross and the organizers of the New York State Vintage Snosled Races. Come out next year, make it a weekend, it is a great fun way to spend the day in Long Lake.
Congrats to Ryan Kitchen and Gabe Farr for an excellent season.