This Drag is Snow Drag
Saskatchewan Snowmobile Racing Assoc. (SSRA) holds Snow Drags at RAM.
The grounds at Reynolds Alberta Museum were humming, well actually, roaring with activity on Saturday, January 18th, 2014. Hundreds of spectators and snowmobile racers from across Western Canada converged on Reynolds Alberta Museum and made their way to the packed and groomed snow racing track for the annual Wetaskiwin Snow Drags.
The Wetaskiwin Snow Drags are part of a racing circuit operated by the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Racing Association (SSRA). Competitions are held throughout Western Canada every weekend beginning January 11th in Meadow Lake Saskatchewan and concluding in Beauval, Sk. on March 16th. The SSRA, established in 1967, is one of the oldest snowmobile racing organizations in the world. Their goal is to support the sport of snowmobile drag racing by keeping it safe, fair and fun for all competitors.
SSRA arrives at each race with the SSRA cargo trailer loaded with all the equipment needed to run a drag race; a digital scale for weighing sleds and riders, a Race America starting tree and timing system, fuel testing equipment, protective safety vests, back-up starting and finish line systems, generators and various other pieces of equipment to facilitate the registration and operation of a snowmobile drag race.
Racers were registered and competed throughout the sunny afternoon of January 18th in any of the 18 categories suited to their machine. Unlike automotive drag racing which is between two cars, each snowmobile drag race has 2 to 4 machines racing on 4 side-by-side tracks.
Cynthia Blackmore, Head of Marketing and Communications - Reynolds Alberta Museum, was enthused about the races. “This is the second year that the race is an SSRA race and is part of the SSRA race circuit. What a great Wetaskiwin Snow Drags this year. More than 130 racers compared to last year at 87. And it’s a perfect 1 degree out there and the sun is shining. What a great team sport. We are pleased to host teams from across Alberta and Saskatchewan who have come to participate.”
Snowmobile drag racing has its own list of challenges. The 660 foot (one-eighth of a mile) track changes as the day progresses. Although well packed and groomed at the beginning of the competition, as temperatures change and cleated snowmobile tracks chew at the snow, the track becomes increasingly unpredictable. As the speed of machines increases the margin for errors decreases. A pro-stock snowmobile can reach speeds of 100 mph in just over 300 feet. The machines are not equipped with safety features; such as high back seats, seat belts for support, enclosed roll cages and no cockpit of any kind. The rider and team members jump on the back of the machine to imbed the cleats of the snowmobile track into the snow to decrease the slippage and increase the acceleration. The rider climbs aboard, attaches the engine stop switch cord to his or her wrist, angles his or her feet backward and hangs onto the handlebars and throttle while carefully watching for the green light that starts each race. The motor roars, the track spews snow out the back, the front runners come off the race track and in a few short minutes the racer has completed 660 feet of race.
Brief rules and outline of classes: Source - http://www.racessra.com/
The Rules: Basically, there aren’t many. You will be disqualified if you jump the start. You will also be disqualified if you fail to remain in your assigned lane before crossing the finish line. There are several classes for different levels of snowmobiles to compete in. The most recognized of those are the ones set out by International Snowmobile Racing, Inc. (ISR). The ISR uses an established class structure to promote fair competition. There are technical rules for snowmobiles competing in each class
Stock – Basically snowmobiles equipped as they were originally built by their manufacturer. They can be tuned, but few other changes can be made. Within stock, and all classes except Pro Max, there will be several classes based on engine displacement (e.g. 500cc, 600cc, 700cc, 800cc, & 1000cc are the most common).
Improved Stock – The next step up. Some modifications can be made to make more power. These sleds will still look like machines you may see riding the lakes and trails. They will most commonly have performance exhaust systems and internal engine modifications. While some are purpose built race machines most commonly these are "trail hot rods".
Pro-Stock / Pro-Mod – Quite a few more modifications are allowed to make more power, as well as changes to reduce the weight of the snowmobile. While these machines are quicker and lighter, they will still be easily recognizable as to their original make and model although a Pro race sled would never be able to be trail ridden
Open Mod – Highly modified machines that most often do not resemble any factory produced snowmobile.
Pro-Max – The top class sanctioned by the SSRA. These are the fastest most powerful sleds on the track. Almost anything goes as far as engine size and power adders.
Why does one sled win over another
Although it can be that it just has more power, there are many factors involved. The weight of the machine has a large impact on its acceleration. The way it’s continuously variable transmission, or clutches, are tuned is very important. The suspension setup and the way the machine transfers power on to the track is vital. The driver’s skill in keeping the machine traveling in a straight line is important. The driver’s reaction time on the starting line can win or lose a race. A tenth of a second on the starting line is over a sled length at the finish. These and several dozen other factors will determine which racer is a winner. More often than not, the snowmobile whose engine is capable of producing the most peak horsepower is not the winner of the race. It is all the technical and driving skill related issues that make the sport so challenging for its competitors.
For more detailed information or to view upcoming races, go to http://www.racessra.com/ or contact: Sherri Roger - Marketing Director email: email@example.com or Brad Enns (306) 664-8837 Dale Roger (306) 236-3187.
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