BANGOR — Bangor’s Nelson Savage remembers when he and other members of the Bangor Jaycees would spend weeks preparing Bass Park in Bangor for the annual snowmobile races around the harness track oval in the 1960s and ‘70s.

“Every winter, people would look forward to it. When they stopped, it left a void,” said Savage.

Competitive snowmobiling returned to Bass Park this weekend for the time in more than 30 years in a different form as the East Coast Snocross tour opened its nine-race schedule at the Paul Bunyan Invitational with racers maneuvering and soaring around a four-tenths of a mile course laden with bumps and jumps, including the highest jump, the table top jump at the finish line.

“This is a great idea. This is a little different but it’s just as exciting if not more exciting (than the oval racing),” Savage said.

An estimated crowd of 500 turned out for the races Sunday.

“I had seen (snocross) on TV but getting a chance to see it live is quite a thrill,” said Bucksport’s Stephen Bowden. “It’s incredible.”


Bowden particularly enjoyed seeing the snowsleds go airborne off the jumps.

Donny Elston of Bangor said it is “nice to see them use the facility” for a winter activity rather than having it sit idle.

He also noted it was good to “see a lot of young kids” attending the races.

“If they keep having it after after year, you’ll be able to build a pretty good following,” noted Elston.

Fans were able to warm up underneath the grandstand in the off-track-betting area where several vendors were selling their wares.

Deb Whitman of Hermon brought sons T.J. and Zacory and said it is the kind of activity “that keeps the kids entertained.


“It’s fast-paced,” she said. “It’s a good family activity and it’s not that expensive.”

It cost $20 per day for adults or $30 for a weekend pass. Children 7 and under were admitted free.

Avid snowmobiler and former four-time K and N Pro Series East auto race champ Andy Santerre and wife Sue, who now live in North Yarmouth, were among those in attendance on Sunday.

“It gets people out of the house,” said Santerre. “And one of the things I liked the best was watching the groomer.”

Santerre was referring to the vehicle that primes the course.

“I love watching the little kids race,” Sue Santerre said.


Chris King of Bradley pointed out that it is “good for the economy” as the racers and their families and friends spend money on hotels, food, fuel and other necessities.

Jim and Kathy Bouchard traveled from Fort Kent to watch their son, Sam, race and Pam Wiggin from Levant had the opportunity to see her 6-year-old grandson Carter compete. Her daughter, Shannon from Seal Cove, Carter’s aunt, noted that the event attracted people “from all over.”

“This has exceeded my expectations,” said Shannon Wiggin.

Lucas Sewell and girlfriend Megan Norton drove down from Houlton to watch.

“I grew up sledding but I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Sewell.

Brothers Jarrod and Jason Duran of Corinth, longtime snowmobilers, felt it was well worth the money and hope it becomes an annual event.


Shawn Achilles, general manager of East Coast Snocross, said it was “highly possible” it will return next year.

“Things have gone great. You can hear the fans screaming. It’s awesome. Bangor seems to fit us quite well. Everybody has been so nice. It’s refreshing,” said Achilles.

Achilles said the only minor issue was they couldn’t get in all of Saturday’s race card “because we had to spend extra time grooming. The snow wasn’t holding. There wasn’t much moisture in the snow.”

The racers were also impressed by the venue and the city and hope it is on next year’s schedule.

They felt the course itself was good although the lack of snow did impact it.

“It was a little narrow but, for the most part, it was good,” said Jake daSilva from Moultonboro, N.H. “They just need to maintain it a little more. It got a little rough. I would love to come back. The facility is awesome and the fans are great.”


Racers Chris Coleman of Albany, N.Y., Spencer deLaBrutere of Newport, Vt., Wade Acker of Bristol, Vt. and Dominic Babineau of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec thoroughly enjoyed the fact Bangor has lots of hotels and restaurants and Hollywood Casino nearby.

“It’s nice to be 10 minutes from your hotel. At some of the races, you have to drive an hour to get to your hotel,” Acker said.

“Some places, the spectators don’t have any place to sit. And there’s not a lot (of hotels and restaurants) around it. Here the spectators have a nice view. It’s a nice new venue for us,” said Coleman. “It’s definitely one of our best first-race tracks.”

The event was hosted by the Eastern Maine Community College Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise funds for the Bangor-based college.

Project coordinator Jennifer Khavari said she was pleased with the weekend.

“We kept everybody safe; we raised a lot of money for the foundation; it produced revenue for the city that it never would have received and it was a lot of fun,” she said.

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