________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 4 . . . . October 12, 2007


Illustrated Guide to Snowmobile Racing.

Linda Aksomitis & David Aksomitis.
Hudson, WI: Iconografix (P.O. Box 446, Hudson 54016), 2006.
126 pp., pbk., $34.95
ISBN 978-1-58388-170-5.

Subject Heading:
Snowmobile racing.

Grades 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.

Review by Val Ken Lem.

** /4


February 28, 1964, the Kawartha Lakes Tourist Association brought together the first cooperative Canadian-American race. Called the Kawartha Cup, the first race featured cross-country and closed-course racing. With the snowmobile industry booming there were new brands in addition to the three already established: Snow Cruiser, Hus-Ski, Fox Trac, Outboard Marine Corporation (OMC), and Motoski. Snowmobile racing fever was starting to grow. Peterborough is still host to the National Kawartha Cup Pro Snowcross race in 2006. [Note: the three original brands were Polaris, Ski-Doo, and Arctic Cat.]

Snowmobile racing, like auto racing, can be traced back to the earliest days of the invention of the machines. This volume provides brief outlines of the history of the snowmobile and the development of four major types of snowmobile racing sports and the various sanctioning bodies and organizations that have evolved with the sports.

     Snowcross, hillcross and now freestyle are popular spectator sports in the broad category of racing on snow. Racing on ice normally occurs on an oval track and requires modifications to the machines, including very short skis, a chassis that is much closer to the ice than machines designed to race on snow, and the installation of studs, for traction, on the track of the machine. As with automobiles, the speed lovers follow a third type of racing called drag racing or straight-line racing. On ice, drag speeds can range from 90-130 mph (144-210 kph), but races on grass or dirt in the summertime are normally a bit slower. The least well-known of snowmobile sports is snowmobile watercross that dates back to 1975.

     As former snowmobile racers and now owners of an online snowmobile racing magazine that covers race events in the United States and Canada, the Aksomitises are well informed about the sports they love so much. Unfortunately, apart from a few concise pages outlining the development of each of the four major categories of snowmobile sports, the writing style tends to be extremely dull as the text is burdened with long lists of names and largely uninteresting factual details. The authors assume that the reader has a basic understanding of the operation of snowmobiles and technical terms such as 551cc engine and rich fuel mixture. The volume includes almost two hundred captioned but mostly uncredited and undated photographs, roughly half of them in colour. Many of the photos are repetitive, but the authors include informative shots that illustrate techniques or other details explained in the captions. Quite a few images are of notable machines now housed in the Snowmobile Hall of Fame and Museum near St. Germain, Wisconsin. Other features of the book are lists of names of people inducted into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame, and some URLs to various Associations and related sites of interest.

     The volume may well be devoured by avid “sledheads” for whom the book is targeted, but for the general audience, only the most dedicated reader will have the patience to sift out the interesting informational gems from the dull text. In other words, urban schools and libraries can probably pass on this title, but libraries serving rural constituents, particularly where snowmobile racing is popular, will find an audience for this book.

Recommended with reservations.

Val Ken Lem is a librarian at Ryerson University. Many years ago he saw a live snowmobile race at the North Bay Winter Fur Carnival.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.