By Kellen M. Quigley
As many as 15,000 people are expected to visit Salamanca during the fourth weekend in February for the AMSOIL Championship Snocross snowmobile racing series’s seventh annual visit.
Snowmaking machines at the east parking lot of the Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino have produced mountains of the white stuff in preparation for races Feb. 22 and 23.
The event was moved back one week this year after being held previously during the third weekend in February previously.
“Because there was a conflict, we moved it back another week,” said Linda Hitchcock, general manager at the casino. Over the seven years, the event dates have been moved a couple times.
The stop at the Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino in Salamanca is the farthest east for the national touring series and is the sixth of eight stops during the 2018-19 season.
Hitchcock said all the snow needed for the races has been made when snowmakers were onsite a few weeks ago at the casino’s paved parking lot east of the events center. Weather dependent, it should be enough for the track.
“Even if we were to get a huge snowstorm with tons of snow, they need to make snow on their end because it’s a different type of snow they race on,” she said.
For the second consecutive year, the event will be in the east parking lot area after being held previous years in the gravel lot west of the hotel, Hitchcock said. The inaugural event was held in the paved lot.
From traditional stops in Michigan, Iowa and Wyoming all the way east to Salamanca, the tour will continue to build on last years eight events, which saw nearly 100,000 fans soak in the heart-pumping experience during the season.
“We are extremely fortunate to have built such great partnerships with our venues and local promoters,” said ISOC president Carl Schubitzke in a release on the snocross website. “Many of these venues have been part of snocross for almost three decades, and the new venues we’ve added the past few years are as excited as we are to put on world-class events.”
If the temperatures get too cold, attendees have nothing to fear. The casino’s events center will be open for patrons to escape the elements or just take a break from the action.
Vendors and concessions from both the snocross and casino will be set up in the lobby, so attendees can come in to stock up on merch or get a hot beverage and warm for a while.
“Even though it’s not our event, we work very well with the snocross organization,” Hitchcock said.
Feature racing will be held beginning at 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday for the Pro Open and Pro Lite series, and some kind of racing — from practice for professionals to racing for amateurs — will take place throughout both days beginning at 8 a.m. Friday and 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
With a strong schedule in place, the series continues its commitment to remarkable racing, including an exceptionally talented group of pro riders returning to the series in the 2018-19 season.
Past pro champions Kody Kamm and Tim Tremblay look to carry the torch after 11-time champion Tucker Hibbert retired from racing this past summer. Despite Hibbert’s absence, the pro class is chock-full of racers capable of winning the title this year.
“For the past several years, we have been working hard to continue the tradition of great racing, no matter who is on the track,” said Schubitzke. “Snocross has great talent across all fields, and while we will miss Tucker’s professionalism and ability, we are going to see some of the best racing we have ever seen. The whole field is ready to step up and win.”
In addition to the races, the casino will be giving away a snowmobile and ATVs during that weekend. Special offers at the casino restaurants will also be available.
“It’s always a good weekend for us and brings in a lot of people that haven’t been here before, so they get to come in and see what’s being offered,” Hitchcock said.
But attendees don’t always arrive by car or truck. Should weather permit the snowmobile trails to be open, snowmobilers will be able to access the event by riding a sled of their own and parking it at the casino.
“It brings people out and gives them something to do,” Hitchcock said. “It’s a great, fun thing for people to come and join us.”
Race fans from around the globe will continue to tune into AMSOIL Championship Snocross, Powered by Ram via the series partnership with CBS Sports Network and the live stream production available at snocross.com. The casino will also be showing the event at its other properties in Buffalo and Niagara Falls.
Tickets for the weekend are on sale in the casino’s Logo Shop and online at snocross.com for $25 daily or $30 for the entire weekend. Ticket prices are $10 more at the door.