A Guide to Snowmobile Racing
Snowmobile racing is among the most popular winter sports in Canada. You may have seen live television broadcasts of the X-Games Snocross races and marveled at the speed with which these racers zipped across the track.
If you are excited about purchasing your first snowmobile and getting into snowmobile racing, you might be wondering where to start. Many people pick up a copy of the guidebook. Illustrated Guide to Snowmobile Racing, by Linda and David Aksomitis, to learn about the history of snowmobile racing. However, there aren’t as many resources out there that tell you how to train for and participate in snowmobile races.
Many people dream of making it into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame after making a name for themselves in the snowmobile racing world. So, in this guide, we will go over some of the basics of snowmobile racing. This includes how to prepare your snowmobile for races, how to practice, and what to expect during your first race.
Types of Snowmobile Races
Before delving into how to prepare for a snowmobile race, it is important to understand the different types of snowmobile racing events.
Snocross is a special type of race similar to motocross. Racers compete on a track that features numerous turns and various terrain. These races tend to be incredibly varied, which allows the most skilled snowmobile racers to show off their sharp reflexes and recovery abilities.
Cross-country racing is a traditional type of race that covers long distances. While these races may not actually span multiple countries, they do go on for many hours. As a result, such races test your skills as well as your endurance.
Oval racing is a simple type of snowmobile race confined to a snowmobile track. This is similar to ordinary motorsports races. However, the key difference here is that the track is made of snow, which adds a degree of unpredictability to the track conditions.
Drag racing is another popular type of snowmobile race that resembles automotive drag races. In ISR and USSA drag races, racers compete against one another in a straight racing strip to see who can reach the finish line first. This racing type tends to be incredibly competitive as the difference between first place and second place is usually only a few milliseconds.
Vintage racing is a less popular type of snowmobile race. However, it holds a unique charm and is incredibly fun to watch.
Such races involve racers using vintage snowmobiles they have maintained or restored over the years. The vintage nature of these snowmobiles means they can’t keep up with modern brands such as Arctic Cat, Polaris, and Ski-Doo. However, such races are more about showcasing these unique vintage snowmobiles than they are about winning.
How to Prepare for a Snowmobile Race
Preparing for a snowmobile race requires effort in many different areas. This includes improving your physical fitness, understanding your snowmobile’s capabilities, and learning to read terrain.
Physical Fitness Training
Your physical fitness will impact your snowmobile racing performance because driving long distances at high speeds requires both strength and endurance. Some physical training areas to focus on include:
There are many many types of strength training exercises that are perfect for snowmobiling. This includes:
● Squat to-shoulder presses
● Standing cable rows
● Ball dumbbell chest presses
● Single leg bicep curls.
Such strength training exercises can be very hard on your body. For this reason, you should use approximately 2/3rds of your full strength for these exercises when you are just starting off.
Driving a snowmobile subjects your body to many types of movement-related stresses. These can cause muscle soreness and cramps if your body isn’t accustomed to them. For this reason, it is vital to train your muscles using movement training exercises. This includes:
● Floor bridges
● Prone planks
● Floor Prone cobras
Cardio training helps you build up the endurance you will need to drive your snowmobile for long stretches. This makes it incredibly important for cross country racing. You can perform any type of cardio training activity for this purpose. This includes running, swimming, or cycling.
Understand Your Snowmobile’s Capabilities
Understanding your snowmobile’s capabilities is important because it will impact your performance on the track. Any snowmobile enthusiast can memorize their snowmobile’s engine’s rated power output, but they will need to actually put it to the test to understand how it performs in different situations.
For this reason, you should perform several test runs on a snowmobile track or trail before the race. This will help you understand your snowmobile’s throttle on straight strips, how to make smooth turns, and how to traverse different types of obstacles.
The more familiar you are with your snowmobile, the more confident you will be in taking on challenges once the race day finally rolls around.
Learn to Read Terrain
Learning to read terrain is one of the most crucial components of cross-country snowmobile training. After all, such races take you through various types of terrain so you should be able to spot changes in advance and adjust your riding style accordingly.
This is a skill most snowmobile racers develop through practice. However, you can still make up for your lack of experience by exercising common sense. For example, if you spot small humps in the snow ahead of you, it could indicate there are clumps of dirt or rocks in your pathway. Similarly, if you spot a large hump in your pathway, it may be a log that must be avoided at all costs.
Keeping your eyes peeled is the key to reading terrain, so focus on paying attention to the pathway in front of you until it feels like second nature.
Prepare Your Snowmobile
It is vital to prepare your snowmobile for upcoming races. This is especially important if you don’t have the most powerful snowmobile out there and need yours to perform at its best on the big day.
You can’t supercharge your snowmobile’s engine, but you can perform certain maintenance and warm-up activities to ensure nothing is holding it back. This includes:
Check the Fluids Regularly
You should strive to check your snowmobile’s fluids regularly. This includes fluids such as chaincase oil, engine oil, and power steering fluid. If you notice that any of these fluids are below their recommended levels, you should top them off or replace them with fresh fluid.
Wash Your Snowmobile After Each Ride
Washing your snowmobile after each ride is important because dirt and debris can accumulate in your snowmobile’s moving parts and impact its performance. Giving your snowmobile a rinse will remove these and keep your vehicle functioning at its best.
While it can be tempting to blast your snowmobile with a pressure washer for a quick rinse, you should avoid doing so due to the damage it can cause. A simple hand rinse with a washcloth and a hose is much better suited for this task. However, you can use an air compressor to blow away the dirt on the snowmobile’s exterior.
Clean the Carburetor
Your snowmobile engine’s carburetor will naturally get dirty over time. This dirt can throw off the air-to-fuel ratio while the engine is operating and impact its performance. For this reason, you should clean the carburetor at least once a year.
To do this, you will first need to open up your snowmobile engine and disconnect the carburetor from it. Once you reach this component, you will need to remove the engine’s fuel lines, connections, and caps.
Now that you have removed the carburetor, you should spray it with a cleaning solution and take it apart. Scrub the floats and bottom plate thoroughly and spray the main section’s jet holes with carb cleaner spray. You can then reassemble it and place it back into the engine.
Let the Engine Warm Up
Snowmobiles are designed to operate in frigid weather. However, they still need some warm-up time to perform at their best. Turning on your snowmobile and allowing it to run for a few minutes allows its fluids to flow through different components and get them ready for action.
For this reason, you should remember to start up your snowmobile and allow the engine to idle for at least five minutes before your race.
Getting into Snowmobile Racing the Right Way
The world of snowmobile racing is vast and challenging. The above guide should help you get acquainted with the basics, but it is important to learn more as your skills on the track grow.
If you’re interested in purchasing a high-performance snowmobile from a reliable North American manufacturer, please see our selection over at Westshore Marine. We specialize in everything snowmobile and can help you find one that lets you break into the snowmobile racing world with confidence.
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