Paralyzing crash won't deter Minn. watercrosserBy JASON SCHREIBER
Sunday News Correspondent
October 07. 2017 7:54PM
FREMONT - To most spectators, Scott Martinson looks like every other snowmobile racer - until they see him getting on or off his sled.
The 42-year-old Martinson is a paraplegic who's racing in this weekend's annual snowmobile watercross competition in Fremont.
Paralyzed from the waist down in a snowmobile accident 19 years ago, the Minnesota racer has refused to let his paralysis stop him from enjoying the sport that's brought thousands of fans to Brookvale Pines Farm for the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association's annual grass drag and watercross competition.
"Don't give up on your dreams. That's my deal," Martinson said as he geared up for the competition, surrounded by other racers who have become friends and have been inspired by his dedication to the sport.
The races began Friday and continue Sunday featuring some 600 racers running snowmobiles on a grass drag strip and on a pond at the farm on Martin Road.
This is the first time Martinson has raced his "Marty's Fab Shop" Polaris at the New Hampshire event.
Martinson's love for snowmobiling began when he was about 13 and fixed up one of his dad's old sleds to ride.
He gave watercross a try four years ago despite his disability, but he sank his snowmobile when he went out on a pond. Martinson waited until the next year to try again and has been competing in races ever since.
Watercross racing poses some challenges for someone like Martinson who can't manipulate the snowmobile with his legs like able-bodied racers.
"I can just sit on the seat. Compensating when you're out on the water and the sled starts leaning, that's the difference. I struggle with that. I just have to lean the other way," he said.
Martinson has only raced across a pond and not around it - at least not yet. He said he hopes to race ovals next year, but realizes it'll be a little harder for him with the turns.
"I went out for a practice run two weeks ago. I came in dry. I didn't sink," he said.
Snowmobile racer Aaron Vowles, 23, said he always enjoys watching Martinson out on the water. Martinson often practices on Vowles' pond in Minnesota.
"I've been able to watch him progress since the first time he came out on the pond," Vowles said.
Vowles has followed Martinson on a jet ski whenever Martinson raced on a pond or lake with no landing just in case he needs something to hold on to if he runs into trouble.
While Martinson's snowmobile has gone down in the water during some practices, he wears a lifejacket and is able to swim.
Because of his paralysis, Martinson admits that he does worry about getting his foot caught on the snowmobile and being unable to free himself if he sinks.
"If I get stuck on the sled, my foot gets caught on the handlebar or my feet get caught on something else, my jersey gets caught on the handlebars, I'm going to sink and drown. That's the only thing I've really been concerned about," he said.
But he's taken steps to close things up on his snowmobile to keep from getting tangled up.
Martinson's determination, positive attitude and dedication to the sport have inspired many who have watched him grow as a racer.
"I'm a pro rider and I'm inspired by him. He's definitely an inspiration to anybody who's going to join the sport," said Jerry Tongen, 44, of Minnesota.
"This is a guy who never gives up. He sets a goal and he goes for it," Vowles added.