RUMFORD – If Mother Nature cooperates, the weekend’s second annual Rock Maple Racing Snocross series tour at Black Mountain ski area should be a hit with business owners, snowmobile racing fans and the ski hill.

Snocross tests snowmobile competitors’ skills and abilities as they race side-by-side around a course of uphill climbs, downhill drops, hairpin turns and jumps.

A lack of snow at Whaleback Mountain in Enfield, N.H., Saturday’s first scheduled series race was canceled.

That makes the Rumford venue on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 13 and 14, the first of the season.

Spectator gates open at 8 a.m. each day. Admission is $12 per day for adults or $20 for weekend passes. Children age 10 and under are admitted free with a paying adult. Pit passes are available for an extra $10. Racing begins at 9 a.m.

“With (Whaleback) canceling, there’s more emphasis on our race, so, we’re excited,” Black Mountain Director Brad Adley said Friday afternoon.

Also excited was River Valley Chamber of Commerce administrator Cherri Crockett.

She and her staff of volunteers have been putting together informational packets about area amenities and shopping.

“We’ve been definitely pushing to get ready, because we’re their first stop, so that’s going to be great publicity for us,” Crockett said Friday.

Lodging for the event began booking up three weeks ago, she said. As of Friday, Rumford’s biggest, the Linnell Motel with about 30 rooms, was quickly filling up. The Blue Iris Inn had one room left and there was room for a few more at The Bearly Inn in Dixfield.

“Everyone within a 10- to 12-mile radius has been booking rooms. It’s exciting and it’s good stuff,” Crockett said.

Sparse lodging infrastructure, however, isn’t helping when the Rumford ski hill lands events like Rock Maple Racing that packs the area with hundreds of race teams and fans from around the Northeast.

Last year’s racers and spectators settled for lodging 30 minutes away in Bethel and at Sunday River Ski Resort motels in Newry, and farther away in the Norway-Paris area, Farmington and Lewiston-Auburn.

“That’s the one thing we need to bring here – lodging. We heard from people last year who said it wasn’t bad to travel from Bethel and Newry, but they said they’d rather stay here.

“If we’re ever going to make Black Mountain something, we need to get lodging here,” Crockett said.

Snowmaking resumed this weekend at Black Mountain, which opens for the season on Friday, Dec. 26. Crews also made plenty of snow during 90 hours prior to Thanksgiving, according to operations manager Peter Chase.

“We have enough snow out there to go now, but it’s not yet in the right place,” Chase said Friday afternoon.

“We made some pretty sizeable piles that are 8 feet high, 40 to 50 feet long, and 12 feet wide. We’re making snow when Mother Nature allows us to. From looking at the weather reports, we’re hoping to make snow through the weekend,” he said.

Chase said the coming week’s forecast of light snow and seasonable temperatures should be good for racers and fans alike. Unlike last year, when bone-numbing temperatures greeted everyone on the first day, then that wished-for snow came the second day, packing with it subzero temperatures and more than 16 inches of snow.

“I think we will have a great weekend. All we’ve got to do is hope the people will come and, I think they will,” Adley said.


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