Weekend Warriors gather on the ice

Diana Yeager/NNSL photo Brandon Bradbury from Yellowknife sits on his snowmobile at the Race Hay River cross-country finals on March 19.

Diana Yeager/NNSL photo
Brandon Bradbury from Yellowknife sits on his snowmobile at the Race Hay River cross-country finals on March 19.

The sounds of high-powered machines echoed throughout the community over the weekend as racers from all over the NWT and Alberta gathered to test out Hay River’s tracks.

Derek Mundy, president of Race Hay River, said the organization has been putting on the races for four years.

“It’s a pretty small town, and snow sports are a major part of people’s lives,” said Mundy. “It’s a chance for people to get out and strut their stuff.”

The March 19 and 20 event was the second Weekend Warriors races this month.

The river’s main ice crossing was host to races for dirt bikes and quads on an ice course, a cross-country track for snowmobiles, and the ever-popular snowmobile drag races.

One of the notable out-of-town racers attracted to Hay River was Yellowknife’s Brandon Bradbury, who is returning to the sport after taking a break starting in 2014 to attend school in Fort Smith.

The 23-year-old left off in his career as the second-best on the Canadian National circuit.

“It feels really good to be back,” he said.

A third-generation racer, Bradbury started out when he was four years old, and grew up watching races by his father, Colin Bradbury.

“Shaun Demarcke was my hero, and he still is,” said the younger Bradbury referring to the Hay River racer. “He was the one I always wanted to race against, and hopefully one day I’d beat him.”

Bradbury hopes to return to the national circuit.

“I still want to compete down south,” he said. “I haven’t given up on the dream of becoming a professional snowmobiler.”

Bradbury’s cross-country race on Saturday got off to a rough start, hitting a rock right before a jump on his first lap, but he made up for lost time and came in first.

Colin Bradbury came to Hay River for the day to watch his son race for the first time since 2014.

The elder Bradbury was glad to be back in the audience of a Hay River race.

“It’s always a good show here,” he said. “The people are good and it’s good to catch up with friends. But the best thing is that you know spring is starting when you see the races.”

–Diana Yeager