By Jeff Martin
The sounds of snowmobiles may mean fun and competition to most, but it means something entirely different to Lt. Nick Kim.
Kim, a public affairs spokesman for the United States Air Force, said events like the upcoming AMSOIL Championship Snocross at Seneca Allegany Casino are prime opportunities for the military to recruit tomorrow’s service men and women.
“We’re always looking for the best and brightest,” Kim said by phone recently, “and those that attend events like this tend to be interested in skills we’re looking for.”
Scheduled for Feb. 7 and 8 at the casino in Salamanca, N.Y., the AMSOIL Snocross is quickly becoming a popular attraction throughout the country. Last year, AMSOIL came to Salamanca for the first time and, by all accounts, was very well received.
The Air Force is in its fifth season of sponsoring snocross, according to Kim, and each year brings a fresh crop of recruits.
“We’re looking for people who are mechanically inclined and this kind of thing attracts such people,” Kim said. “The snocross audience very closely mirrors the Air Force recruiting target market. With snocross attendance growing exponentially every year, it helps us to inspire, engage and recruit potential applicants attending those races to serve in the Air Force.”
While no exact numbers are known regarding how many people have been recruited, Kim said each year has been successful for the Air Force. In addition to having a presence at the event, the Air Force also sponsors a team, in this case, Scheuring Speed Sports. The Air Force is in its ninth year of sponsoring that team, Kim said.
The event is like no other. Event organizers arrive a few weeks in advance and begin building the snow-covered track in the parking lot. Trucking in and manufacturing tons of snow, workers build a bullring-style track for the dozens of snowmobiles that race through tight corners and on straightaways and, to the amazement of fans, fly as high as 100 feet into the air.
“Seneca Allegany is one of two stops of our eight-round tour that’s much like a NASCAR bullring-style race,” Carl Schubitzke, ACS president/race director, said in a press release. “The track provides amazing action, and is located in a new area on the casino grounds where there’s not a seat in the house where you can’t see all action taking place from one end of the track to the other.”
Competitor Tucker Hibbert (Monster Energy/Arctic Cat), who has become the unofficial face of the sport, has been untouchable in the premier Pro Open class. A top performer last year at Salamanca, Hibbert has been on a roll this year, sweeping first place at both the Duluth opener and again in Bessemer, Mich., at Blackjack Ski Resort.
Other Pro Open racers to watch include Cody Thomsen and Logan Christian, along with Ross Martin and Kody Kamm and New York’s Jake Scott — all on Polaris sleds.
Activities inside the casino are also offered for those showing up early, as well as makeshift stores selling clothing and equipment. Single day tickets are $25 and two-day tickets are $30. Special rates apply to children.
For more information about the event visit www.senecaalleganycasino.com.