More than 30 people turned out for the first meeting of the newly-formed Race Hay River Society on Nov. 7 – most of them self-described gearheads and motorsport enthusiasts.
“There’s a strong background of professional racers coming out of Hay River,” said Tanner Froelich, the president of the new society. “But the guys who have been organizing motorsport stuff for the last 20 years are getting tired, and it’s time for a new group to come in.”
Froelich and his fellow engine enthusiasts created the society to raise the profile of motorsports in Hay River and to promote organized racing to a younger generation. The society covers jet boat, stockcar, mud bogging and snowmobile racing – with room for expansion built into the name.
“There are probably 10,000 Ski-Doos in this town and a whole lot of gearheads,” Froelich said. “We’re trying to make it so that everyone can give it a try.”
For instance, instead of one event per winter season, he is hoping to organize a circuit of three separate events, one a month, from January through March, explaining some racers might not think it’s worth the time and effort to get their machines ready for only one event.
A points system would also allow a competitor to have one bad day without scrapping a whole season.
Froelich also said he knows people from Fort Providence, Fort Resolution and the Alberta communities of Fort Chipewyan and High Level who have all committed to coming out for races.
“We want to bring the community together and put on a show for them,” he said.
Derek Mundy, the society’s vice president, agreed. He said what the snowmobile races focus on has to reflect what people are interested in, and, as such, the society will be moving away from snow-cross to some extent.
“In the past, we made snow-cross racing the main focus and other events were kind of throw-ins,” he said. “But in the last couple of years, not so many guys have been coming out for snow-cross, so we’re going to change it up a bit. Hopefully, that will draw some more guys out.”
Mundy said that, while the society wants to attract all kinds of people to motorsports, youth between the ages of 14 and 18 are the ones he wants to see coming out to races.
“They’re young, they’re out there already, but maybe a little bit intimidated by the triple jumps in the course or whatever,” he said. “Maybe by toning it down a little bit for some events we can attract them at different levels.”
For now, there isn’t quite enough snow on the ground to haul out the snowmobiles and start building courses, but Froelich is undeterred. He said the society will focus on raising awareness in the community about its plan to bring motorsport racing back to the forefront, as well as funds to do so. He suggested dances and poker tournaments might be in the works, but said nothing is definitive.
“It was really encouraging to see all those people come out to the meeting,” he said. “There is a community here of interested people, and we want to grow that and bring racing sports back to Hay River.”
— Sarah Ladik