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Snowmobile drag racers let off steam in frigid temperatures in Copenhagen


COPENHAGEN — Tina M. Woodruff stood on a snow mound by the finish of a 500-foot snowmobile race track Sunday outside the village fire department, making herself taller while she glanced toward the starting line where her husband, Gary, lined up for a drag race against an opponent.

Mr. Woodruff, racing his Yamaha Nytro 2009 snowmobile in the 600cc modified class, was among 91 racers who participated in Sunday’s drag races hosted by the Copenhagen Cubs, a privately funded firematic drill team of volunteer firefighters.

Grabbing a digital camcorder from her coat pocket, Mrs. Woodruff waited patiently for the start with her finger settled on the record button.


High-pitched motors signaled the start of the race. For a split second, a cloud of snow engulfed the riders.

They then jolted forward on their machines with acceleration, seen as a blur by the dozens of spectators who lined the fence of the groomed track that was made solid by its 1-foot 6-inch ice base.

The side of the long track was lined with pickup trucks, enabling some to watch the action while tailgating.

Mrs. Woodruff quickly rotated her camcorder as her husband rode by her on his sled to cross the finish line marked by orange cones, recording the end of a race that initially seemed like a toss up.

But the results announced over a loudspeaker revealed Mr. Woodruff, a Copenhagen native, had lost in a tight finish.

“That was close!” she said.

Ever the cheerleader, Mrs. Woodruff said her husband would get two more chances to win on Sunday.

He’d also entered 700cc and 800cc division races with his snowmobile, which is equipped with a turbocharger that may be adjusted to run at different levels of horsepower.

“I just like the competition part of it, to see who can outrun who,” said Mrs. Woodruff, adding that she also watched her husband compete Saturday night in the Snowmobile Hill Climb at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin. Many of the snowmobilers competed in both drag races during the weekend, making it a double-header.

Andre R. Hornig of Lowville was busy doing last-minute maintenance on his snowmobile with a group of friends before racing in the 800cc modified division on Saturday.

“It’s just leaking a little bit of gas. We’ve been tinkering with the sled for the past week,” said the 20-year-old, who added that his finely-tuned sled earned first and second place finishes Saturday during competition in Turin.

“It’ll probably do a wheelie off the start,” he boasted, putting his helmet on and revving up the engine.

A.J. Overton, Mr. Hornig’s friend and arch rival in competition, took first place in the 800cc modified division Saturday in Turin, where drag races started at the bottom of a steep ski hill.

“The 800cc is the king division, because it’s the fastest,” the Lowville native said. “I was using a 240-horsepower snowmobile there last night.”

His mother, Karen A. Overton, proudly displayed a video captured on her smartphone of a drag race between the pair of Lowville friends in Turin on Saturday night.

“In that one my son won, but Andre ended up winning the division,” she said.

The Copenhagen Cubs, which also hosted a snowmobile competition Feb. 8, will use proceeds to upgrade firetrucks and equipment used in firematic drill competitions across the state.

Between both events, the group was expected to raise about $1,700, said James C. Henry, event organizer and club member.

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