Summer snowmobile racing on the water - a decades old tradition

Published: Aug. 14, 2022 at 8:10 PM EDT
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TOWN OF MARTINSBURG, New York (WWNY) - Snowmobiling, not on snow, but on water. It’s called snowmobile watercross.

“The people ask, snowmobile on the water, jet skis?” said Kevin Baker, director of the New York State Watercross Association. “No, snowmobiles, physical snowmobiles you can actually take a regular trail snowmobile, bring it out and go across without a problem.”

The New York State championship snowmobile water races took place this weekend at the Flat Rock Inn. This is the 33rd year. Pros, semi-pros and amateurs all hit the water.

“Amateurs being beginners, semi-pros, which are the very fast up and comers, and pros which have been doing it for a while and are extremely fast” said Bob Stadlel, a race tech inspector.

Drivers compete in different categories like drags, jumps and ovals.

“It’s a whole different ballpark,” said Daniel Ortlieb, one of the racers. “You’re racing with guys who’ve done it ten times longer than I have. I’m just like the new kid on the block.”

Some say they was born into the snow mobile, watercross culture.

“I started racing when I was 11 years old,” said Hailey Memery, one of the racers. “I’ve come up here ever since I was a baby, and I’ve watched my dad do the sport since forever.”

Some say once you join the sport, it’s hard to miss the comradery in it.

“The morale, the family that goes on here is like no other sport I’ve been a part of,” said Zack Yauger, another one of the racers.

Gordon Yancey, owner of the Flat Rock Inn, has been hosting the event for more than 30 years, and says it’s time to pass the torch.

“This what I have been saying for several years now, that some people need to get involved to learn this, because I’m not going to be around forever,” said Yancey.

Yancey says his love for the sport first began in West Leyden more than four decades ago, and hopes that same passion sticks with the new generation.

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