February 18, 2008


Snowcross brings county dollars

Economic impact for weekend race estimated at $88,000


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer    
Kyle Becker of West Hurley steers into a turn during a Rock Maple Racing snowcross race sponsored by CNY Power Sports Saturday. The event Saturday and Sunday drew more than 2,000 spectators and racers.

Staff Reporter

POLKVILLE — About 500 visitors, including snowmobile racers and their families, spent the weekend in Cortland County for snowmobile racing at CNY PowerSports on Route 11.
They were among approximately 200 racers and 450 family members who attended Saturday and Sunday’s races, which were part of the Rock Maple Racing snowcross circuit.
Overall about 1,500 spectators, most of whom were local residents, attended the event.
Machell Phelps, executive director of the Cortland Regional Sports Council, one of the event’s sponsors, said the races had about an $88,000 economic impact on Cortland County.
She derived that figure by multiplying the number of spectators, participants and their families by state economic development tourism figures for the average amount each person spends.
One multiplier was for people who stayed a day and another was for people who stayed overnight.
She said an economic impact of $88,000 is pretty average for a Cortland Regional Sports Council sponsored event, with other events having up to a $400,000 economic impact.
“Basically every hotel was booked Saturday night,” Phelps said, noting two other sporting events, state basketball finals and PeeWee Hockey semifinals also contributed to the full hotels.
Many of the out-of-towners went out to eat Saturday night or to have a good time downtown, according to CNY PowerSports owner Dave Law.
Law said turnout for the event was about average. The races have been held four of the last five years.
Cold weather Saturday and rainy weather Sunday kept more people from coming, he said.
“We thought we would have had a lot more because previous races were canceled — one in Vernon and one previous to that,” Law said. “We would have had more if the weather had been better.”
Law said he had thought about canceling the event last week, with just a few inches of snow on the ground, but phone calls from eager participants and spectators changed his mind.
Several days last week CNY PowerSports made snow with snowmaking guns. Ninety percent of the racetrack snow was man-made.
“They really want to help the area,” Rock Maple Racing snowcross circuit President Tara Saxton said about CNY PowerSports, noting this weekend’s race was the first tour race this year with man-made snow.
Families of racers helped the racers out in the pit or watched them from the stands. Many travel on weekends with their racer and have become good friends with the other race families.
“I can kill two birds with one stone,” SUNY Cortland sophomore Kara Walda said about traveling to see her brother, 17-year-old Rome resident Trevor Walda race every weekend. “I get to hang out with everyone.”
Kara Walda, whose grandfather was the famous racecar driver Richy Evans, has become close with Cincinnatus resident Lauri Smith and her racer daughter Chelsea Smith, 16. Walda hangs out with Chelsea when she’s in town.
On Saturday Chelsea bruised her knee during a snowmobile race. She had to go to the Cortland Regional Medical Center, and was released the same day.
Chelsea said this morning that she raced Sunday with a bandaged knee.
“It wasn’t my best weekend but I think I did fine for the injury I had,” Smith said.
Injuries are always a risk snowmobile riders take, Lauri Smith said.
“You get used to it after a while,” Smith said about the worry she feels for her daughter.
McGraw resident Jamie Randall and his family attended their first snowmobile race Saturday. He came to the race with his two children and his brother.
Brittney Randall, 11, said she is not interested in racing her  own snowmobile.
“It’s kind of scary,” she said about racing.
Ithaca racer Hunter Sherwood, 8, showed little sign of being scared before one of his races Saturday. Sherwood, who is in his third year of racing, explained how he helps calm himself before races.
“I get a good night’s sleep, I put my gear on and I eat Cheerios,” Sherwood said.




Old dryer, car seat make perfect toboggans in Groton

Winterfest holds its first recycled toboggan races

Staff Reporter

GROTON — Logan Wannall spent more than 25 hours in recent weeks putting together a toboggan made of scrap plywood, an old dryer drum, an old chair, rope scraps, screws and 2-by-4 planks.
The 15-year-old raced his creation Sunday at Groton’s first recycled toboggan race at the Groton Winterfest.
“He’d come home after basketball practice and do it on weekends,” said Jean Wannall, his mother.
His toboggan also had logos of his favorite businesses in town, including Neville Farm, the Groton Meat Market and Lou’s Carry Out.
“It was funny because he had all these advertisements on there but received no money from sponsors,” said Nathan Wannall, his father.
The recycled toboggan race, which capped off Winterfest and attracted about 50 people, will take place on an annual basis, organizers said.
“We thought it was a good idea to get families together and out of the house,” said Don Scheffler, who first conceived the race with friend Dale Lane.
The men decided on recycled toboggan races, which require participants to build toboggans out of recycled material, because as children they always had a good time “making their own fun,” Scheffler said.
Rainy weather forced recycled toboggan races to begin a little early and finish a little early on Sunday.
Race participants battled cold wind and rain to ride their toboggans down a hill at Stonehedges Golf Club late Sunday morning. All riders were timed, whether they actually raced against other riders or just went down on their own.
They were judged on their performance, including speed and safety, creativity and the look of the sled. Eleven toboggans and their makers raced in three different categories: family, business and group.
The first place team in the group category built a toboggan out of an old car seat, skis and a welded frame. The team consisted of Dustin Snyder, 19, Jared Moore, 18, and Josh Barron, 17, all Groton residents.