By Kellen M. Quigley

Whether there’s snow, sleet or rain — a foot of the white stuff or widespread puddles in mild temperatures — nothing can stop the pro snowmobile races from coming to town.

Thousands of snowmobilers and winter sports fans alike will gather next Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22 at the Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino for the return of the AMSOIL Championship Snocross National for the eighth consecutive year in Salamanca.

So far, things are on schedule for another successful year, said Linda Hitchcock, General Manager at the casino. She said last year’s event saw over 15,000 attendees.

“The warm weather this season has revamped our snowmaking process,” she said. “We usually have more snow than we need by this point. However, they do have a plan in place to make this event happen.”

Preparations begin right after the previous year’s event wraps up, Hitchcock said. After a post-con to address any issues, the casino’s team begins blocking for the next event.

“Food and Beverage is busy planning on what needs to be done,” she said. “The hotel room blocks that we set in place for the event have already been filled. Tickets sales in The Logo shop are going well.”

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 2019-20 season.

ISOC Racing spokesperson Gene Shaw said things are going according to plan from the racing side of the event

“It was nice to have extra time between events to prepare,” he said. “(The) weather has been fine so far and looks good heading to race day. Nice to see temps at night dipping down in the teens.”

New this year is the addition of snow bike racing entertaining and attracting new fans to the event, Shaw said. Winners of Snow Bike races are determined by points from the two moto’s each day, and if someone were to win both moto’s each day, they’re the winner. The current point leader is Jesse Kirchmeyer from nearby Arcade.

“The points race for the Pro class has been a battle each event with Elias Ishoel having the points lead going into Seneca,” Shaw said. “Second-year pro Daniel Benham Minnesota and Lincoln Lemieux are pushing hard for the lead.”

Inside the casino, a new Sportsbook area for guests is now open, along with all of the other amenities.

“We do sell food and drink out at the events, however, they should come in and check out our wonderful restaurants and gaming,” she said.

For the casino, the only effect the Snocross has one day-to-day operation is the parking, since the race track is built in a section of the eastern parking lot. Hitchcock said the casino has a nice handle on the logistics after past years’ experience.

“We had over 15,000 in attendance,” she said. “We expect around the same this year if not a little bit more. We seem to grow every year.”

With five weekends already complete this season, Shaw said the events have been great after the blizzard that canceled the opening races in Duluth, Minn.

“Race teams like racing at Seneca,” he added. “ISOC always looks forward to seeing races from  Eastern Snocross Tour.”

“We hope for a great event once again this year,” Hitchcock said. “It’s a great event to bring guests into the area and see what we have to offer.”