October 21, 2021

Snowmobile event a chance to show off, compete

Tracks to the past

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

Lee Miller of Groton drives his 1982 John Deere snowmobile Saturday while his son, Thomas, guides during the Finger Lakes Trail Runners’ blindfolded driver competition at the club’s vintage snowmobile show and rodeo at Fillmore Glen State Park in Moravia.

MORAVIA — With the overwhelming smell of gasoline hanging in the cold, still air Saturday, Mark Dunham of Moravia tried to guide a blindfolded John Curtis of Homer around poles at the Finger Lakes Trail Runners’ vintage snowmobile show and rodeo at Fillmore Glen State Park.

The two competed in the event’s blindfolded driver competition, where Curtis wore a helmet bag over his head and Dunham, sitting behind Curtis on the snowmobile, had to guide Curtis through the course.

“That one’s good for the rider but not good for the driver,” Dunham said with a laugh. “You’ve got to trust the guy that’s behind you.”

The event offered an opportunity for the nearly 50 attendees to show off their vintage snowmobiles, compete in competitions and win raffles.

Competitions included the blindfolded driver race as well as another competition where a piece of string was tied between two snowmobiles and the riders would have to complete the course without breaking the string.

“This is a chance to come out and have some fun,” said Jeff Irving, a member of the Trail Runners and an organizer of the event.

The event started five years ago as a way to publicize the club, Irving said. The challenges were added only this year. In previous years, the snowmobile riders would ride through the park and trails across the town.

“We want to show that snowmobiling is a family event and it can be a safe sport and organized sport,” he said.

Colin Spencer/staff reporter

John Curtis, left, of Homer, speaks with Steve Phelps, of Truxton, about Curtis’ 1995 Polaris RXL snowmobile Saturday during the Finger Lakes Trail Runners’ vintage snow- mobile show and rodeo at Fillmore Glen State Park in Moravia.

And families were at the event.

Irving and his two children, Robby and Nichole, participated in the blindfolded driver competition, with their dad. Nichole and Jeff Irving took first place.

Bud Manzari and his son Mark, from Moravia, said they were attending just to get out and use their 1961 Ski-Doo snowmobile. Between the two, Bud Manzari said that they own more than 100 snowmobiles.

The quality of them, though, varies.

“The old ones (snowmobiles) are like riding a washboard,” Bud Manzari said. “The new ones feel like your riding your living room couch.”

Despite newer snowmobiles handling better and being more comfortable, people still enjoy using and seeing the vintage ones, he said. They bring back memories.

“I like the vintage shows because it reminds me of my youth,” Curtis said. “I can see a sled and say, ‘Oh, I remember when I was 12 and had one of them.’”

Curtis, who was there with two Ski-Doo snowmobiles from the 1960s and 1970s similar to what he had as a kid, said the event allows for bonding over snowmobile experiences.

“It’s a sense of camaraderie as we know most of these guys,” he said. “They’re all in my age group — 50 to 70 years old — so they all got stories.”