A snowmobile, also known as a snowmachine, or sled, is a vehicle made to travel on the snow. They are designed to be rode on the snow or ice and require no road or trail. The windshield is the only enclosure and has skies in the front to have control over direction. Snowmobiles are usually designed to carry the driver and a passenger, they are much like a motorcycle or an ATV (all terrain vehicle) but made for winter use to travel on snow and frozen water ways. Rubber tracks were used on the early snowmobile models, but now-a-days snowmobiles for the most part have tracks made of a Kevlar composite. Two-stroke gasoline/petrol internal combustion engines were in the original snowmobiles, but now four stroke engines are becoming more popular because of environmental concerns.
The snowmobile was originally made to travel where other vehicles couldn’t go during the winter, however hunters and workers transporting personnel and material across snow-covered land, frozen lakes, and rivers, took great interest in this winter vehicle. Since the late part of the 20th century, snowmobiles have been recreation-ally used and the people who ride them are known as snowmobilers. Some styles of riding include: snowcross/racing, trail riding, freestyle, mountain climbing, boondocking, carving, ditchbanging, and grass drags. Summertime doesn’t stop snowmobilers, they drag race on grass, asphalt strips, and even across water.
Types of races
- The International 500 is a large racing event held every year in Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. It is a 500-mile (800 km) race on a track, with the current prize being in excess of $40,000.00. The International 500 started in February 1969.
- Grass drags are held every summer to fall, with the largest event being Hay Days in North Branch, Minnesota. Hay Days has always been held the first weekend following the Labor Day Holiday.
- The World Championship Watercross or Snowmobile skipping races are held in Grantsburg, Wisconsin in July. The snowmobiles are raced on a marked course, similar to motocross courses, without the ramps and on water.
- The Snowcross racing series are snowmobile races on a motocross-like course. The races are held during the winter season in Northern United States and Canada. One of the largest in New England is the Northeast SnoX Challenge held early January of each year in Malone, New York and run by Rock Maple Racing and sponsored by the Malone Chamber of Commerce.
- Snowmobiles are used for ice racing. The racing is held on an “Ice Oval” track. The World Championship Snowmobile Derby is held each winter in Eagle River, Wisconsin.
- The “Iron Dog”, the longest snowmobile race in the world, is held annually in Alaska. It is 1,971 miles (3,172 km) long and runs from Wasilla to Nome to Fairbanks. Its name refers to Dog Mushing, long popular in Alaska.
- Vintage snowmobiling is the racing of vintage snowmobiles and has grown in popularity as a sporting event on the Canadian prairie and in America.
- The World Championship Hill Climb competition is held in Jackson, WY at the Snow King ski resort each year in March.