RUMFORD – Preparations for this weekend’s two-day Rock Maple Racing Series SnoX snowmobile race continued Thursday at Black Mountain of Maine.

About 700 bales of hay had been placed along both sides of the event’s less-than-half-mile track, which was being fine-tuned by Chris Wilk in a Piston Bully 260 ski-mountain groomer. Wilk, of Rutland, Vt., is Rock Maple Racing’s track builder.

By late Thursday afternoon, with snow-making help from Black Mountain workers and volunteers, Wilk said he’d worked 30 to 40 hours to get the track ready.

“Other tracks, where there’s no snow-making and you have to truck in snow, it takes 60 hours to build,” Wilk said. “These guys here have really done a great job. And for the first time in a long time, Mother Nature’s acting like she’s supposed to act.”

The ski area’s snow-making ace, Bob Chase, said during Thursday’s snowstorm that he and his crew made 220 hours worth of snow for the weekend’s race, and the ski area’s opening day on Saturday, Dec. 22.

“We’re making snow. It’s snowing. Life is good,” Black Mountain trustee Brad Adley said as he watched Wilk move snow into place on the main spectator straight-away in front of the lodge. “I never thought I’d say that.”

The Saturday-Sunday event is Black Mountain’s debut offering of snowmobile racing. Adley said they have no idea how much of a crowd they’ll get both days, but are expecting anywhere between 1,200 and 8,000 spectators.

“It’s a shot in the dark. If you build it, they will come. Right? We marketed the heck out of it. The word’s out. It’s all over the state and New England. We’re going to do anything we can to make money, but this is kind of out-of-the-box for us,” Adley said.

Besides crowds, another unknown until after today is parking. About 350 racers and pit crews are expected to arrive today. Many will be bringing large tractor-trailers hauling racing sleds and equipment. Ten to 15 full-size rigs will be joined by 120 30-foot-long tractor-trailer trucks.

“Parking is to be announced. By tomorrow night, we will know where the pits will be. With any luck, we’ll park them all in the pits. We are also opening two secondary lots,” Adley said.

Organizers also are using three SAD 43 school buses to shuttle people from three large parking areas. One is in front of the Marden’s complex, another is in the Premium Hardwoods lot, both on Route 2, and the third is in the Rumford Water District lot on Spruce Street. School buses will be running every 15 minutes.

Rock Maple Racing will also host a children’s 120cc snowmobile racing course, designed by Wilk, in the cross-country stadium, and a special Trail Class event for any snowmobiler who wants to give snocross racing a shot. Each rider will have to rent and wear special safety equipment like the pros and pay about $35 to enter.

Both that and the children’s event are popular, Wilk said.


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