RUMFORD – Local winter motorsports excitement will rev up next month when Black Mountain of Maine hosts snowmobile competitions featuring more than 200 racers.

Additionally, the population is expected to swell by more than 2,500 spectators. Many of them, and racers and their crews, will be looking for lodging from Bethel to Farmington for Round 2 of the 10-race 2007-08 Rock Maple Racing Central series snocross tour on Dec. 15 and 16.

The series starts this weekend at Whaleback Mountain ski area in Enfield, N.H.

“It’s enormous,” Black Mountain spokesman Craig Zurhorst said of the economic potential and interest in a telephone interview from Auburn on Tuesday afternoon. “It is a Winter X Games qualifying event. If someone does well at Whaleback and does well with us, they’re going on to the X Games in California, so this has importance beyond just this region.”

According to Rock Maple Racing’s Web site, snocross is a form of snowmobile racing akin to dirtbike motocross, except it’s on snow.

“Over 40 percent of the time, they’ll probably be in the air. Snocross is an exciting sport and we feel our facility will provide an ideal venue to showcase that excitement in Western Maine,” Zurhorst said.

There are three series within the Rock Maple Racing umbrella:

• A 10-race Central series that competes at sites in Maine, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

• A five-race East series that runs in combination with Central events in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

• A seven-race West series that competes in New York and Pennsylvania.

Rock Maple Racing is the eastern affiliate of the World Powersports Association, the national sanctioning body for snocross racing.

Black Mountain is no stranger to hosting large sports events.

“Hosting a serious snowmobile competition is something we’ve talked about doing for a while now,” Zurhorst said in a recent report. “We couldn’t be happier that RMR is bringing its premiere race series to our facility. Rumford is deep in the heart of snowmobiling country, so there is no shortage of enthusiasts in this area.”

With seasonal temperatures last week, Black Mountain began making snow. As of Tuesday, it reached 60 hours of the 150 that snowmaker Bob Chase says are needed to pull off the races.

“The weather is cooperating to allow us to be about three weeks ahead of schedule at this point in time,” Chase said.

The race will be on Black Mountain’s Nordic ski course and loop onto the alpine hill for distance.

Arrangements, including those for overflow parking and shuttle buses, are nearly complete, but about 150 volunteers are needed.

According to Chase, anyone donating six hours of time to help will get a weekend pass to the event. People interested in volunteering can contact Black Mountain’s lodge at 364-8977. Volunteer orientation is from 4 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 9 at the lodge.

“It’s going to add a new pre-season flavor to Black Mountain of Maine, one we hope both avid snocross fans and first-time spectators in Western and Southern Maine will come here to enjoy. I think that if we can pull this off the way we want to, it will show the area that we’re capable of pulling events of this magnitude off,” Zurhorst said.


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