WARRENSBURG - Spectators will likely be gazing at plumes of ice shards clouding the air behind speeding vintage snowmobiles as they race Saturday on Echo Lake.
As many as 500 or more snowmobile enthusiasts from northeastern U.S. states are expected to attend the annual event that not only draws racing fans, but those nostalgic about snowsleds that hark back to the sport's formative years.
This series of racing events, sanctioned by the Northern New York Vintage Snowsled Racing Association (NNYVSR), is the second in the group's 2011 race circuit of 11 days of competition. The events will feature an estimated 150 vintage snowmobiles.
The races are headquartered at Echo Lake Lodge, located off Hudson St., which will have a variety of food and drinks available.
Spectators can either view the races from the Lodge's deck or from the shores of the lake. Race warm-ups start at 10 a.m., and competition begins at 11 a.m. and lasts through 3 p.m. or so.
As of Tuesday, weather on Saturday was expected to be clear, which is likely to bring out a crowd. The association is scheduled to make a return visit to Echo Lake on Feb. 19.
The snowsled association's first race
for 2011, held Saturday on Long Lake, drew a substantial number of racers, NNYVSR Track Director Mike Ross of Old Forge said.
"Now we're looking forward to a lot of racers Saturday on Echo Lake," he said. "We've got a good-size track that's wide for safe, fast racing, and with the lodge right there with good views - it's very accommodating."
The Warrensburg Wrestling Club sponsors the races. The young members of the club work at the event, and proceeds from the modest $5 entry fee go primarily towards supporting the group's activities and charities.
Ross said his group appreciated the young wrestlers' work setting up the track, helping direct traffic and attending to other vital details.
"Whoever organizes the Warrensburg race does a great job with a lot of volunteers," Ross said.
Lenny Baker, local wrestling coach, is one of them.
He said Sunday that the club's money is spent not only on sending young wrestlers to tournaments - whether wrestlers are 4 years old or 18 - but also in purchasing wrestling shoes and uniforms for youngsters whose families are on a limited budget.
The Club has bought $15,300 in wrestling mats and other related equipment in 2009 for Warrensburg School District, he said, which has reduced expenses that would otherwise be borne by taxpayers. Also, the group donates a portion of their treasury to various local charities.
The Vintage Snowsled races are the wrestling club's premier fundraiser, coach Scott McKenna said.
"For this event, the Lodge porch is always full of spectators, and they have a really good time," he said. "There's a lot of excitement."