Get ready for Snocross


BENNINGTON>> Nykea Williams is no stranger to speed.

The Concord resident grew up racing motocross, ski raced through high school and picked up quad racing a few years ago.

And for two years in a row, Williams, 25, has held the Pro Women's point title for East Coast Snocross, a regional snowmobile racing circuit.

Williams will join over 100 more riders — and upwards of 2,000 spectators — at Willow Park this weekend for what will be the fifth of eight stops during the multi-state racing tour.

Spectator gates will open at 10 a.m. each day. Adult admission is $12 per day. Children age 7 and under will be admitted free with a paying adult. Pro qualifying will begin at about 11:30 a.m. Finals for pro lite and pro open set for 3 p.m. each day.

"I get a rush from it," Williams, one of 13 members of Team Southside of North Adams, Mass., told the Banner Thursday. "I love hitting a 50 foot jump and catching some air."

A well-tuned snowmobile can rocket you to 80 miles per hour on a straightaway, she said.

"You have some sort of respect for it and know what you're doing."

Snocross features highpower snowmobiles that race through a course of tight turns, steep jumps and high banked corners. Racers travel upwards of 60 miles per hour and hit 30-foot-high jumps, which propels them over 80 feet through the air.

The Snocross season kicked off in January at the Clinton County Fairgrounds in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Recent stops have included Bangor, Maine, Salamanca, N.Y., and Valcourt, Quebec in Canada.

The Range on Curran Highway in North Adams, Mass. hosted the event in 2014 and 2015. Series owner Kurt Gagne, a Clarksburg, Mass. resident, said it was hard for organizers to use the track when it rained because the area flooded.

The winter's mild weather and little snowfall meant organizers had to give Mother Nature a helping hand. Two snow cannons first began churning out snow at Willow Park about two weeks ago. By Friday morning, 140 hours went into making enough snow for the track. The 45 horsepower cannons, which are able to draw 500 gallons of water a minute, were switched on again early Friday morning and were expected to run to Saturday morning.

"There's not a stitch of natural snow here except for the little we had last night," Gagne said.

Bruce Gaspardi, Jr, 27, has been snowmobiling since he was four years old. He'll be racing with Williams and others on Team Southside for Southside Sales of North Adams, Mass. in the sport class.

While some people think it's a three-month-long seasonal sport, Gaspardi said it's more like a year-long commitment. During the warmer months, racers go from snowmobiles to dirt bikes, quads or another motorsport.

"Just because you aren't competing, you're constantly refining your skill, keeping yourself in shape," he said.

While racers like Williams get a "rush," Gaspardi described having a zen-like experience.

"It's a realization that you're out there doing what you love, what you enjoy," Gaspardi said.

Spectators are more than welcome to cheer on racers over the two-day event.

Gagne and other organizers were optimistic the weather would be good for racing and spectators — temperatures on Saturday will be nearly 40 degrees and could rise into the 50s on Sunday.

"We got a lot of stuff going on," Gagne said. "We'll have vendors, food and beverages. I'm looking forward to people coming out and having a good time. That's what it's all about."

Contact Edward Damon at 413-770-6979


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