I was just an 11-year-old kid back in 1962, when witnessing my first snowmobile race here in Lancaster, NH. Many of those who participated were wearing knit hats plaid Johnson jackets/pants and green rubber barn boots. They were competing on machines, originally designed for trapping, with engines delivering little more than 7 HP, and the winner receiving a two-dollar trophy.
Snowmobile Racing: From Barnyard To Big Time
But in a scant ten years, snowmobile racing went from barnyard, to big time. Those only in it for fun were soon weeded out and sent back home to their day jobs. The cream that was left rose to the top and they emerged as professional racers in a brand-new sport.
Now they were wearing sled-matching racing suits, full face helmets and driving world class ice racing machines cranking out 100+ HP and reaching top speeds of over 100 mile an hour! Instead of two-dollar trophies they were now winning thousands of dollars in prize money.
Their names were front page news in every Monday morning newspaper and small-town weekly across the snow belt. They began their journey as a bunch of small town kids with the talent to go fast and ended, as true legends – pioneers of the sport of snowmobile racing!
Fans Pack Lancaster Grand Prix
Events like the Lancaster Grand Prixgrew in size of such enormity, that it had at one time between 700 and 800 competitors and close to 15,000 fans at its peak!
But then it was over. Big time eastern snowmobile racing ended, almost as quickly as it began. But there is absolutely nothing in our long cold winters since, that has ever been so exciting, or made as big an impact. Nothing!
Northeast Snowmobile Racing History
For forty long years, our first-generation eastern snowmobile racers, the one’s that started it all, had been overlooked, forgotten. The brief, but rich history of the sport of professional snowmobile racing in the eastern United States, a distant memory: until now!
The 2018 Eastern Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame induction ceremony and snowmobile show featuring vintage race sleds, is taking place at Crane’s Snowmobile Museum on Saturday, May 19th at 1: 30 pm.
We welcome everyone who can remember those glory days of eastern snowmobile racing and we especially welcome those who were born too late for this. This is the history of your sport.
Eastern Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame Inducts Pioneers
In May 2017, the newly formed Eastern Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame inducted the first four of eastern racing’s greatest stars at Crane’s Snowmobile Museum in a moving ceremony.
They were Bob Clark of Barre, VT, Bruce Dunham of Avon, ME, Bob Martin of Lancaster, NH, and Conrad Rollins of Abbot, ME. Rollins, a well-known independent Polaris racer during the golden age of eastern racing, sadly passed away last November at age 75.
2018 Snowmobile Racing Inductees
The 2018 Eastern Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame inductees are: Bruce Beaurivage of New Found Lake, NH, Lewis Lunn of Pepperell, MA, Calvin Reynolds of Gorham, ME, Ed Stabb of Boonville, NY, and Ken Young, of NY.
Bruce Beaurivage won the first two races he entered back in 1968.
He was on fire in the stock classes early in his career as he took nothing less than a first, second, or third in every race during a three-year span.
He won the 340 stock class at the 1973 World Series in Malone, NY.
When he entered the modified division, Bruce continued his winning ways with several USSA championship events under his belt and a Kilkenny Cup win in Mod IV at the 1975 Grand Prix.
Lewis Lunn was a rookie in 1971, but unlike most rookies who begin racing in the lower horsepower classes to gain experience.
Lewis started out on a big 650 three cylinder Polaris Starfire.
He won enough points that first year to take him all the way to the USSA World Series in Boonville NY, where he took second place.
Lewis was invited by Team Chaparral to be a test pilot and to assist Bobby Unser in designing the first production IFS suspension for the 1972 Chaparral racer. Making him the first person to ride on an IFS equipped sled!
Cal Reynolds of the Reynolds Raiders Team was one the nation’s top riders. He wore number #3, #4 and #5 bibs during his career.
Cal was only one of two voted the best driver and best sportsman in the same year among the top 12 racers in the country and voted unanimously by the USSA race committee members.
He took second place against the top factory teams in the 650 class, at the first World Series at Rinelander, WI., in 1970.
The Reynolds Raiders Team always showing up with such impeccably prepared racing sleds, Cal helped to elevate the sport of snowmobile racing to a higher level.
When Ed Stabb was 12 years old, he begged the local Ski-doo dealer in Boonville, NY to please let him work on the new machines.
Ed went on to race snowmobiles, but his greatest achievements are in promoting.
He was the chairman of the New York Snow Sled Racers from 2005 to 2015 and under his guidance, snowmobile racing in upstate New York grew in excitement not seen since the 1970’s.
Ed was the 50th Grand Prix reunion’s greatest asset and without him this legendary race would not have been the success that it was.
His continued devotion to the Grand Prix, providing his expert assistance with the events that followed, together with the Snow Drifters, brought accolades among the competitors and fans alike. Ed’s other achievements are hosting two National Vintage Snowmobile Shows, judging many others, and assisting the Lancaster Snow Drifters with their National Show in 2016. And he’s still going strong!
Celebration Open To Public
Please join us on May 19th at 1:30 pm. Meet our first generation of eastern snowmobile racing’s greatest stars. Meet those who are already members of the ESRHOF like Bob Clark, Bob Martin and Bruce Dunham, along with the previously mentioned class of 2018.
Crane’s Snowmobile Museum
Crane’s Snowmobile Museum is where legends gather. You will not see so many of our early pioneers all in one place, anywhere else.
Come check out the vintage racing machines like the ones they rode to victory so many years ago and reminisce about those glory days right here in Lancaster where it all began, when the sport was brand new.
Back when you stood outside in 20 below zero weather all day long, watching the best snowmobile racers in the world do battle on the high banks and half mile ribbons of ice! Relive those glory days, when the factory teams came east to do battle with our local heroes – and our guys won! The best thing is, it won’t be 20 below zero.
Snowmobile Racing Heroes
I grew up watching sports heroes like Bobby Orr, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Richard Petty and A.J. Foyt. The only thing is, none of those guys ever came to Lancaster. But my snowmobile racing heroes like, Bob Eastman, Larry Coltom, Gilles Villeneuve, Herb Yancey and Conrad Rollins did. That’s why snowmobile racing will always be close to my heart and to the hearts of so many fans of my generation.
This is a free event and we welcome everyone. However, we humbly accept any contributions. Every dime goes toward heating bills and upkeep of this museum.
Crane’s Snowmobile Museum is located at 172 Main Street, Lancaster, NH 03584.