By DAN HEATH
---- — CHAMPLAIN — Speed will be the key Saturday on King’s Bay.
The Northern Tier Sno-Runners club will host its annual snowmobile ice drag races on Lake Champlain, starting at noon.
The sleds will travel as fast as 150 miles per hour, Club President Cory Wells said, and the races are very entertaining.
“It’s a combination of torque and speed,” he said. “It’s definitely a rush.”
There are numerous classes, from Stock 440 sleds up to Unlimited Modified snowmobiles.
Last year, a race cancellation allowed the owner of one of the fastest snowmobiles in the world to attend. Wells said the person had about $100,000 invested in that machine.
The event is a fundraiser for the club, which has between 300 and 400 members, to support its focus on trail grooming and maintenance.
Races have been held since the club was formed in the early ‘90s, with about 100 racers at some events.
“We are now getting more people from a larger geographical area,” Wells said, adding that most come from within about a 100-mile radius that includes New York, Vermont and Quebec.
The single-elimination races are held on a 660-foot, dual-track course on the ice at King’s Bay. The club readies the course with its trail-grooming equipment and an ice leveler.
The snowmobiles feature studded tracks to grip the ice, up to 2-inch needle-like pieces for increased traction.
The International Snowmobile Racing organization provides guidelines on track setup and performance classes.
Solid ice, of course, is the key to a successful event, Wells said.
Wells said the club used to hold similar races on the Great Chazy River near Lord’s Marina in the 1970s and 1980s.
“There is a lot of local interest in it,” he said. “We usually get a lot of people to show up.”
Registration for racers starts at 9 a.m. The races are held in a single-elimination format that concludes when there is a winner in each class.
There is a $25 entry fee for each class. Club officials will check each sled at registration to make sure it meets class and safety specifications.
Snowmobiles must be equipped with a tether switch to ensure the engine stops if a rider falls off.
Spectators can attend for a $5 admission fee. The entrance is via King’s Bay Road, off Route 9B near the Lakeview Pavilion.
There will also be a concession stand, with beverages, hamburgers, hot dogs and french fries.
The club is seeking volunteers to help out on Saturday.
“That’s a good way to have a front-row seat to the event,” Wells said.
For more information, visit www.northerntiersno-runners.webs.com. Or reach Wells at 846-3014 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Dan Heath