Preparations are under way for professional snocross racing in North Adams this Saturday and Sunday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Florida's Nickolas Keating cannot think of a better way to spend his weekend than zipping through the woods on his snowmobile.
Except maybe zipping through the manmade hills created at The Range for this weekend's East Coast Snocross event.
"The adrenaline rush was something I never experienced before — even owning a dirt bike and racing it for six years," Keating said. "It's more intense for me anyway. I just think about it and my blood pressure rises."
The event is being brought to North Adams by MVP Promotions, operated by Peter Greenbush and Jamie Zdon, along with The Range owner David Bond, in the hope that it can become a regular occurrence. They've been working with local businesses to show how the event can become a successful attraction.
"We showed them potential for income during a time of year when sources for good outdoor entertainment are limited," Greenbush said in a statement. "This event will draw people here to enjoy some great racing, producing revenue for hotels, motels, restaurants and gas stations. Everyone we spoke with understood the positive impact, and they all plan to welcome race teams and fans with open arms."
A public reception to meet with the racers is set for Friday night at Bounti-Fare restaurant in Adams beginning at 6 p.m.
Keating has had the experience of competitive snocross just once — a couple of years ago when the East Coast tour made a stop at Vermont's Pico Mountain. And he cannot wait to get back out there and hit the trail in the novice division races.
He will wait one day, actually.
The two-day ECS event gets under way on Saturday morning, but Keating will be participating that day in the annual "Fat Bastard" Memorial Ride, organized by the Florida Mountaineers to benefit scholarship funds at Drury and Hoosac Valley high schools.
• Racer gates open at 6:45 a.m.
• Spectators gates open at 10:30 a.m.
• Racing begins at 11:45 a.m.
• $20 per adult each day; children 7 & younger free
• Free parking at North Adams Plaza; shuttle buses will be running
• No alcohol may be brought in to the site; food and beverages will be available.
• Bring your snowmobile to participate
• More information on MVP's Facebook page here.
Snowmobiling in all its forms are a passion for Keating.
"It's just one of my favorite things I've ever been able to experience in my life," he said, noting that 2014 has been a banner year for the sport. "The trails are in find condition right now and things are looking great for the weekend."
Keating said Thursday's and Friday's rain and warm weather are not likely to inhibit racing at The Range this weekend.
"From what I hear, the snow conditions are great down there," he said. "The warm weather won't affect it.
"It's man-made snow, so it's really dense. It has a lot of moisture in it. ... It could be a little icy, but I don't think so."
This weekend's competition is the eighth stop on a planned 10-date schedule for the East Coast Snocross tour. Last weekend, racers competed in Quebec. The next closest stops to Berkshire County were in Rumney, N.H., and Fonda, N.Y.
A jam-packed two days of racing gets under way with a practice session at 10:30 a.m. Saturday and the first of the pro racers at 11:45. Gates open to spectators at 10:30; tickets are $20 for adults each day; kids 7 and under will be admitted free.
Keating said he regularly follows the International Series of Champions snowmobiling tour, whose events he can stream online, but he also is familiar with some of the pros on the ECS circuit, especially those he met at Pico Mountain in 2012.
"ECS isn't streaming live, I believe, or I would be watching them every week," he said.
"These guys do go out and compete in the national series. You will be seeing guys flying high and going fast."
And you will be seeing some high flying moves from the novices, as well.
"I'm down for anything," Keating said when asked how much air he expects to catch during the competition. "It's a huge commitment, and it's something where once you start, you don't stop."