For Kelsey McGinley, one of a select group of female racers participating in events held by Race Hay River, there are simply not enough competitors in her class.
“Some women might be a bit intimidated to come out and compete,” she told The Hub.
“But we really want to show them that they are welcome and we want to see them come out.”
McGinley, also a board member for the organization dedicated to motorsport races, said one of the society’s top priorities is getting people out to race snowmobiles, quads, and dirt bikes over the course of the three-event season this winter. The last race drew nearly 200 participants and 300 spectators in January, with more expected for the second installment this coming weekend at the 2 Seasons Campground.
While many of the men’s classes were well-attended, McGinley said she felt the ladies’ events were a bit sparse in terms of participants.
“There are lots of ladies out there who enjoy sledding and just heading out for the trails, but who are maybe a bit reluctant to come out and compete. (Racing) is generally thought of as a man’s sport,” she said.
“But not all classes are as competitive as people think they are.”
McGinley said that while, of course, there is an element of competition in every event – it is a race, after all – the group is making an effort to create classes for people who just want to try it out for the first time, without the pressure of going up against guys who have been racing for years.
For the next race, they have created a beginner bikes class for people who want to test the ice with studded dirt bikes.
“That’s really for anyone,” McGinley said.
“We just want to get people out and having fun – all ages, all levels, men and women. It’s not for everyone, but if you want to try, we can make it happen.”
But having classes for everyone isn’t always easy, according to fellow board member Kurtis King.
“You can’t have a class if no one comes out,” he said bluntly.
“If you have too many classes with two people in them, that’s boring to watch and boring for the racers.”
That being said, he agreed with McGinley, saying that inclusion of as many people as possible has been a priority in the past.
“We have never tried to exclude anyone,” he said of previous efforts to organize races prior to Race Hay River.
“But I think we’re talking about it a bit more now. We talk a big game about trying to get new people out – and we did the same five years ago – but it’s always tough.”
McGinley is one of those participants new to racing, though she said her role organizing much of the event makes it difficult to get out on the ice as much as she would like.
“I’ve talked to a few of the younger girls, and they see the men out there going really fast and are a bit intimidated,” she said.
“For myself, I’ve been intimidated too. I’m very nervous about going out there, but I’m there to have fun, and I do.”
Registration for the weekend’s events is from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. The races are expected to start 1 p.m.