The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 3 - 9/16/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
"Hey, Scott, Dad said they had a drivers meeting and they are going to let you bump up to the older kids class, so you get to race after all." I held back a grin as Scott jumped up to start getting his race gear together. He would need his helmet, tech vest, and of course his "colors."
The races were scheduled for Sunday morning at 10 a.m. The Pinedale Snow Explorers had gotten permission from Eddie Steele to use his field. The morning dawned clear and cold. The smell of race fuel waifed through the air while engines revved up.
Scott was nervous with excitement and made a quick lap through the pits to check out the competition. Because he was bumping up a class he would have to compete against 600's. He would definitely be out motored. He reported back that his main competition would be Katie Neely on her dad's Polaris 600. Scott knew he didn't have much of a chance against the 600's on his Summit 500, but this was racing, anything could happen.
To me, races in Sublette County are always the best. Maybe because it's on home turf. You can count on Gary and Ruth Neely at registration to get everyone in the right classes. The brackets are safe with Mary Lankford. Her husband, Dave, is sure to be behind the starting line keeping things running smooth. Tiger Jaskolski has been in charge of crowd control for as long as I can remember.
A quick check in the cook tent guarantees a good lunch with LaDonna McGuire and Bud Davison heating things up. Bud's burger flipping is without rival. When you throw in Kelly Winters and Jon Walker on the PA system, and Jim McClellan running the lights, you've got a race!
Scott was one of the first racers to get to the drivers' meeting. Snow Explorers' race director, Robert Jaskolski, explained how the lights would be run. Once the staging lights were on and the drivers acknowledged they were ready to run, the lights would start down the tree. Two ambers, then the green. If you jump before the green came on, the red light would come on. You only got one red light, if you did it again it would be a loss. No problem, we were ready!
The classes ran little to big. Stock classes ran first. As each racer comes to the line, it is obvious from their attire what brand they ride for. "Colors" play an important role in racing (blue for Polaris, green for Arctic Cat, yellow for Skidoo). There is pride in brand loyalty. Brightly colored shirts with brand logos are as much a part of racing as the snowmachines are.
As the first stockers came to the line, it was obvious the competition would be fierce. All the brands had racers entered. Some teams had been tuning for several days. A couple of teams had thrown sleds together just days before and others were still dialing sleds in. To complicate things even more, half of the racers had spent the day before at a wedding, partying until the early morning hours! (Not the best preparation for quick reaction times!)
As the stockers ran through their classes, I could tell Scott was getting more nervous by the minute. The race officials called a time out for lunch break. After everyone had their fill of Bud's Burgers it was time for the juniors' classes. I watched Scott as he strapped his helmet on. I knew just what he was thinking - he had to hit the light. Brent helped him stage.The motor revved as he held the brake and got the tach up to 5,000 rpm. The amber lights started down the tree; one..two.. green light!!
Pop the brake, grabbed the throttle, and throw the dust. Scott sucked himself down on the seat and pushed hard for the finish line. I could almost feel the adrenaline rush and the little tickle as your stomach hits your backbone and the wind roars through your helmet. I knew he would be hooked just like the rest of us. I waited impatiently for the finish line light to come on and show us who had won. Scott did.
As the juniors bracket ran through, it was becoming painfully obvious Scott would be running against Katie Neely for first place. Katie hadn't lost a race; Scott was down one. As Katie and Scott came to the line, I noticed each of their dads were acting as pit man. Everything was coming full circle. After years of racing each other, now their kid's were facing off, and they both looked like they liked it!
The lights on the tree started down. The green light flashed and Scott had the jump on Katie. But Katie was no slouch either. She sucked down on the seat to streamline her body and passed him half way down. The finish line flashed her lane and Bucky's Bunch took the juniors class. Scott gave a thumbs up to Katie. Brent and Gary met behind the lights for a smile and handshake. Today Bucky's won, but next time, who knows? That's what racing is all about . . . . speed, competition, and good sportsmanship.
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