Riders from all over the South Slave and Northern Alberta took to the tracks last weekend in the first snowmobile, quad, and bike races of the Hay River season.
“We’ve got people here from all over,” said Kurtis King, a member of Race Hay River, the organization that put on this first of three racing events.
“Not as many as we would have hoped, but we hope to get more next time.”
About 194 participated in various events, spanning quading, bike races, and both drag-racing snowmobiles as well as racing over a course. While there have been races hosted in previous years, this was the first for Race Hay River and an important learning experience for the new group.
The society formed last fall to take over from previous organizers who were burned out and took on a mission to revive motorsports in the area, hopefully creating a scene for the whole South Slave.
To that end, the races were open to basically anyone with a sled. While near-professionals waited for their turn, they watched kids as young as nine years old race miniature snowmobiles across the frozen lake at the 2 Seasons Campground.
“It goes from five to 60,” said King. “It’s a sport for all ages and the kids being around is the best part.”
Rodney Beck, father of three children, said at the event it was only natural that his kids be interested in motorsports.
“This is our third year bringing them out for this,” he told The Hub. “They like speed and they like engines. They’ve always grown up with Ski-Doos I guess.”
For some, the races presented a new opportunity to participate.
Vyrle Herbert said in past years, she hadn’t felt particularly welcome as a female rider. But this year, she said, the feeling was different.
“Some ladies, you know, they don’t feel like they belong, but we all want to just get out and race and have a good time, too,” Herbert said. “I’m just really excited to be here.”
The Beck clan – Rylie, Kale, and Kaden – said they liked passing people, winning, and the high speeds best, respectively.
Hosted on the shore of Great Slave Lake, racers and spectators dealt with the wind blowing in off the ice, jumping back into idling vehicles when it got too cold.
While there were no doubt plenty of friendly rivalries and a hightened level of competition in some classes, overall, both participants and the ones who came out to watch them were there to have fun.
“It’s just a chance to get outside, enjoy the weather and the outdoors, and have a great time,” said Rodney Beck.