One Lunger Vintage Snow Machine Race 2017
by Terry Allen
February 6, 2017
Kali practiced loops in the field by her house in Daniel in preparation for the 17th running of the One Lunger 100 Vintage snow machine race held this past Saturday, February 4th, at Cora Downs. "I’ve been riding my Arctic Cat for two years," she said. "My race plan is to Go Go Go." Kali’s little brother Taron has been supportive of his big sisters racing ambitions. "I’ve been helping her take a bath tub," said Taron.
Jason Essington rode by on a Fat Tire bike and I followed him to where he had stopped…at a girl in a mini-skirt. Shayla Schell did a cute little fashion move to show off. "It’s a down skirt with insulated leggings and Smart Wool socks," she said. Her son Canyon stood by her side dressed in racing gear. "This is my first time racing," said Canyon. "My racing plan is to stay on the inside turns of the track and go as fast as I can. I asked Canyon what he ate before the race. "I haven’t eaten anything," he said. "I can’t eat until I get on the podium."
Food! That reminded me of what Gary and Ruth Neely had said as I passed through the ticket gate they were manning. I headed over to Stoney Vance’s 307 Q food wagon. Stoney saw me coming and asked if I was hungry, so I accepted a sample of the pulled pork. Holy Mackerel! That one bite took me to a whole ‘nother place. I accepted a beef brisket sample and it sent to a whole different place, just as good. Highly recommended, folks. I met a Facebook friend, Raelyn Later and her boys who were having brisket and she said it was "very tender, smoky and really hit the spot."
I went looking for Dave Leniger’s pit to get a word with his son Otis who was racing, but on the way in that direction a toddler standing up in the bed of a pickup truck with a bag of Cheetos almost as big as he was, hollered at me, introduced himself as Weston and extended the Cheetos bag toward me. We spent some time together examining, tasting and remarking on how good Cheetos were, and just as I was getting ready to settle in and eat the whole bag with him, he informed me he had to get going because he was part of Ciara’s pit crew and she was about ready to start the Parade Lap.
The Parade Lap, also known as the big, noisy, smoky, bumper car parade, featured all the racers in all the events. It’s a get to know the route lap. Announcer Dave Smith was talking over the loud speakers but no one could hear him for all the high reving and I couldn’t see the starter, but finally an arm with a flag attached dropped out of a cloud of smoke and they all roared off…or at least most of them. Some were busy pull-starting their ancient machines. No machine newer than 1977 is allowed to race, so everyone does the best they can to find replacement parts, but often they can’t be found, which means the machines can be a bit temperamental…as anyone would be with baling wire wrapped around a leg and anchored to the more delicate parts of their engine.
I introduced myself to Joe Harrell who was running a drone around the track. Joe had a leg in a cast and crutches leaned against his snow machine while he filmed the race that his son Cooper was in. Joe was on crutches because he had been in a snow machine accident. Joe is a member of Tip Top Search and Rescue and so he got first-hand experience in being rescued by his own team.
The proceeds of the One Lunger are for the benefit of the Pinedale Snow Explorers/Altitude Offroad, Inc. It was formed in 1965 and one of their main goals is to stimulate and advance general welfare and the safety of snow mobile and ORV riding.
Several Tip Top SAR members were on hand to provide medical help and also tow disabled machines to safety.
After the parade lap and the kid’s races, there appeared a bit of controversy before the main event, over a couple guys from Rock Springs who showed up to race the main event on an illegal machine. Their John Deere Spitefire was a "free air" or "direct drive" machine and these are not allowed under the rules because they make greater horsepower. However, the Rocks Springs guys didn’t know about the rule, and the Sublette County racers decided to vote whether to let them race. They voted to let them race. The race started and the John Deere guys immediately started crashing and coming off their sled…but then they stopped falling off so often, and that big horsepower sled finally pushed them across the finish line ahead of everyone else.
After the racing, Jim Mitchell, Emergency Management Coordinator for Sublette County, and also a member of Tip Top SAR asked if I’d like to ride one of his sleds and do a tour of the track with him so I could gain an appreciation of how tough the race was. "Those vintage machines don’t have the suspension like a new sled," he said. We looked at what once was three feet of packed snow but was now more like muddy three foot mogul washboards running as far as you could see. "The 100 laps equal 50 miles," said Jim. "This is what they had to race through all day." Believe it or not, I’d never been on a snowmobile before; so as Jim sped off toward his truck and trailer, I decided to goose it a bit through the moguls...and almost threw myself off the sled in about 8 different ways all at once. Jim must have heard all the over-reving, banging and grunting behind him because he stopped and asked me if I was okay. "Yeah, no problem" I said…as my tongue licked around to see if I’d knocked a tooth out with my camera.
Thanks to everyone for their kindness and patience. Especially, to Troy for giving me a lift out into the center of the track, Stoney for feeding me later, Jim for the tour, Weston for the Cheetos and Robert for the…fortification;-)
Special thanks to Dawn Ballou of Pinedale Online for sponsoring this story.
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