Snowmobile racers from around B.C. and Alberta gathered in Fernie on February 18 to race their customized snowmobiles head-to-head in the 2017 Snowmobile Drags, hosted by the Fernie Snowmobile Association (FSA).
Calvin Salzmann of Creston took the top spot in three categories, riding his customized assembled 670 big bore Ski-Doo, which sits at 757 cubic centimetres.
Salzmann managed to place first in all his classes; 800, 900, and 1000 improved class. His son Joshua also raced that day, but competed in the modded class.
Racing a 757 sled, Salzmann ranks under the average power of all these classes, but managed to pull off wins in all three.
“I managed to take all of them, two of them were very close though,” said Salzmann.
The Salzmann family has been riding for more than two generations. Calvin started riding with his father, and his brother who built high performance sleds. Now at the age of 51, Salzmann still races along side his 27-year-old son.
“My dad and I rode together for years in the mountains,” said Salzmann. “He stopped for a while due to health reasons, and he actually went for his first ride in three years here just the other day.”
Salzmann started building sleds for drag racing.
“I naturally liked drag racing anyways, and I started building sleds specifically to drag race,” said Salzmann.
Salzmann’s big bore 670 carries him down the 660-foot drag track in an average time of 7.5 seconds, reaching a top speed of about 150 km/hr. Some of the larger, modded sleds with turbo add-ons can reach speeds of 170 km/hr. or more in their sub-six second runs.
Salzmann has been modding his engine since he picked it up six years ago. Currently the upgrades installed include a set of hand-built pipes, hand-adjusted porting, a high compression head, modified carburetors, and clutch tuning. Salzmann has put over a hundred hours of work into his sled.
“If you don’t have the mechanical ability, the old ones can be a real pain in the butt,” said Salzmann.
The snow drags attracted over 175 entries this year, which is far more than previous years. The FSA has been hosting this event for 20 years.
Cliff Mitchell is one of the organizers, and he sees the success of any contest like this strictly weather dependent. Mitchell himself is an avid mountain rider. Seeing the competition this year, he had good things to say about not only the turnout, but also the skill level.
“The competition has been awesome, some really fast sleds this year and a lot of good riders for sure,” he said.
This was the FSA’s third year hosting this event at the demo derby grounds; previously hosted out by the Stanford Inn, as well as the old Gymkhana grounds.
President of the FSA, Monty Sosnowski believes this year so far has been very positive for the club. On Saturday, he wished for better weather but found satisfaction in the turnout and the fact they were still able to race.