RUMFORD – Sitting astride a flashy red Polaris snowmobile and sporting a blaze-orange mohawk atop a black helmet, Kolton Gillilan had the look of a rough-and-tumble snocross racer.

That fierce look, however, contrasted greatly with the whimpers from within the helmet of the 4½-year-old from Fletcher, Vt. His booted feet were cold, he told his parents, Matt and Samantha, both kneeling beside him, providing comfort and encouragement.

Saturday morning dawned its sunny, blue-sky day at only 6 degrees on the first of two days of Rock Maple Racing Central series snocross races at Black Mountain of Maine ski area in Rumford. Racers ranged from small children to professional and semipro teenagers and adults.

While older youths from throughout over New England competed on the big track in below-zero wind chills, Kolton and about 20 other youngsters patiently waited for the popular 120cc children’s race to start.

Kolton’s tears soon vanished when RMR’s Shawn Longbook of Salem, N.H., gathered all the kids for an exuberant driver’s safety meeting. Then, it was time to race.

While waiting in line, 7-year-old Kenrick J. Thibodeau of Rumford got last-minute tips from pit crew chief Kassie Thibodeau, his 9-year-old sister. Assisting, were, snowmobile drag-racing dad Kenrick A. Thibodeau, and his father Jim Thibodeau, both of Rumford.

“Did you put gas in? Want me to go through the flags with him again?” Kassie grilled dad with a series of rapid questions, then turned back to her brother.

“They’re into it, I tell you. She makes all the calls,” Kenrick A. Thibodeau said. “This is his first time racing ever. We’re hoping he’s going to race a lot more. We’re trying to make this a family thing to do on weekends.”

The family watched RMR snocross racing at Skowhegan and in New Hampshire to better understand the sport.

“We’re going to try to help and turn him into a racer and support him any way we can. We’ve taken the kids to watch Mike Treadwell race. He’s a local kid who did well, and they like him a lot,” Kenrick A. Thibodeau said.

“This is a blast, but I’m nervous,” Sonia Thibodeau, the boy’s mom, said. “My maternal instincts are kicking in. This morning he got up and got into his tech vest and helmet and said, ‘Come on, mom. Let’s go. You don’t need any makeup on.’ He’s psyched.”

Nearby, Canton 6-year-old Tucker Olsen was hurriedly getting prepped in Maine fashion. Snowmobile-racing mom Bobbie Olsen of Canton was duct-taping his bib number 20 to the back of his chest protector.

“How do you make a 2?” she asked family members.

“Budget racing,” granddad Rick Allen of Peru quipped.

Tucker’s 10-year-old sister, Katelyn Olsen, was on the adult track. She was the only girl competing in the age 10-13 Freestyle 300cc class. A few weeks ago, she competed in RMR’s season opener at Whaleback Mountain ski area in Enfield, N.H.

“He practices with his sister on the big sleds and wants to jump,” said Bobbie Olsen, who was there with Auburn-based Wallingford Racing, a division of Wallingford Equipment.

“The pro drivers also give them tips. Wallingford’s Ryan Scripture takes the kids out and helps them,” she said.

By 11:30 a.m., professional and semipro teens and adults had yet to race.

“These are them in 10 years, or 15 or 20 years,” Sonia Thibodeau said, before watching her son finish second in his first race and fourth in the novice final.



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