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October 04. 2012 10:35AM

Snowmobilers readying for grass drags, water cross races

FREMONT — Some 550 snowmobile racers from across the country and Canada will start their engines this weekend for an estimated 45,000 spectators expected at this year's annual Grass Drags and Water Cross competition.

The three-day event is a fundraiser put on by the New Hampshire Snowmobile Association and is described as the largest of its kind in the country.

“It's really the kickoff to the snowmobile season,” said Roger Wright of Claremont, association vice president and event coordinator.

The races — held at the Peterson farm on Martin Road Friday — feature snowmobile races on a large pond and on a grass drag strip in a field, where snowmobiles reach speeds of up to 125 mph in a distance of 500 feet.

The event also includes freestyle shows, helicopter rides, monster truck rides and more than 120 vendors selling snowmobiles and equipment at discounted prices.

“No other event has grass drags, water cross and freestyle shows in the snowmobile industry,” Wright said.

The water cross races also serve as a national championship for eastern and western competitors.

The event benefits the snowmobile association and its 115 member clubs whose volunteers help with trail maintenance.

As long as the weather cooperates, Wright said he would expect to see about 45,000 spectators over the course of the three days. That's about the number drawn to the event last year, he said.

Some will come for the thrill of the race while others will be hunting for good deals on equipment before the snowmobile season begins.

“It's the excitement of the sport and people getting psyched about riding this year,” said Gail Hanson of Belmont, executive director of the snowmobile association.

Hanson has been riding snowmobiles for two decades, but said she often finds people at the grass drags who have been riding for just a few years and are looking for some tips.

“It's like bringing new people into the sport,” she said.

For more information on the event, visit nhgrassdrags.com.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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