Round 1, 2021 NASBA 509/US Air Force Special Warfare National Championship Snow Bike Series, Alpine, Wyoming
Words by Ron Dillon – Photos by Bill Francis
Round one of the 2021 NASBA (North American Snow Bike Association) 509/US Air Force Special Warfare National Championship Snow Bike Series featured a wonderously wild Wyoming race course, almost one-mile long, set right in the middle of the cute, little town of Alpine, on the banks of the Snake River, right next to the impressive Melvin Brewery. Mayor Kennis Lutz worked hard to make the race fly; in fact, the entire town literally pulled as hard as they could to help the race roar, and roar it did, pulling a number of national caliber racers from five states, and 607 paying spectators to an event that was rushed together in a matter of just a few weeks.
The event was originally going to run in Rexburg, Idaho, but that community chased the race off due to Covid 19 fears. It then tried to run in Etna, Wyoming but Lincoln County zoning issues quickly killed that location. Moving the race to Alpine was a desperate, last second, Hail Mary Pass, and WOW, did it work out for the best! The town was on fire excited, spectators, weary from Covid-related disappointment were on fire, and so too were racers, and the resulting race turned out to be a rip-roaring success, so much so, that a number of locals insisted that it instantly become a 2-day affair, and return for more racing the following day. When informed by the event organizers that there was simply no way to instantly add a second day (no second-day trophies, or insurance, or medical coverage, or staff) the disappointment was apparent, but there is virtually a 100 percent chance that the race WILL return in 2022.
As if the Covid thing wasn’t challenging enough, Mother Nature wasn’t super cooperative either, and instead of the normal 3-4 feet of snow that is typical for mid-January in Alpine, there was maybe 20 inches, so local sledding legend Cody Hunt, teamed up with RMSHA (Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association) President Tyson Thomas to create an absolutely stellar race track. Cody used a bulldozer (compliments of Black Mountain Rental) to push tons of snow to the track, while Tyson ran his snow grooming machine endlessly to create jumps, bumps, whoops, and banked turns. The process consumed several days and hundreds of gallons of fuel, but in the end, a world-class track stood ready for battle. Trackshot Live, an Eastern-based live-streaming company, provided high-end filming and the event went out live to close to 1 million followers on social media, and will be available to be seen soon on a number of Facebook pages and websites.
Anticipation was high as the pro men rolled to the line for their first moto. Idaho’s Jimmy Jarrett, (with a legendary racing career that includes National Championship titles in hare scrambles and snow bikes, as well as several years representing the USA in the International Six Days Enduro), rocketed into the lead, but within two laps he was displaced by X Games Idaho racer Justin Thomas. Back in the pack, Utah’s Parker Earl was moving up from a first turn crash and by lap six he had displaced Jarrett to move into second. Earl was riding at a torrid pace, cutting 58 second laps, and was gaining on leader Thomas, but he ran out of time and had to settle for second. The second moto looked much the same with Jarrett jumping out front, only to be dispatched by eventual winner Thomas, and Earl once again crashing hard, but jumping up and riding like a wild man to take second.
Northern Idaho’s Jamey Parks looked fast, smooth and happy, as she rocketed around to take the top pro women’s spot, and two young lads, Washington’s River Rogers, and Idaho’s Nathan Kingston battled as always in the 350 class.. The 350 class has proven over the last two seasons to be a perfect platform for younger and smaller riders to develop the skills needed to race with the bigger guys down the road.
The Senior, 40+ class is never boring, but it resembled a hospital ward as top-rung racers Northern Idaho’s Jeremy Deming and Washington’s Ryan Rogers were both injured. But they popped some aspirins, gritted their teeth and headed into battle, with Deming ultimately coming out on top with Rogers second. A number of racers continued to grab cash from 509 for winning while wearing 509 gear.
Obviously the awards ceremony was a hit since it was held inside nearby Melvin Brewing which was toasty warm and filled with wonderful food and beverages. There was also a lot of buzz about the new Ruffian Snowbike which made its Western debut at the race. As the day wound down, everyone agreed that this was a really solid event with the perfect mix of stunning scenery, a friendly town, and a great track, and the National Snow Bike Series will most certainly stop here again in the future.
Round 2 of the 2021 NASBA 509/Air Force Special Warfare National Championship Snow Bike Series will be held on the edge of town on Warm Lake Road near Cascade, Idaho on January 30. This will be year 12 for the event, making it the world’s oldest snow bike race, and it is running at an all-new location, with far more parking, way better spectator viewing and a better track.
Partners for the Alpine race were: 509, US Air Force Special Warfare, Rockwell Time, Ruffian Snowbikes, Trackshot Live, Snowest, Snow Bike Nation, Rexburg Motorsports, Lincoln County Customs, Melvin Brewing, High Altitude Powersports, RPM, Throttle Brothers, Flying Saddle Inn, Black Mountain Rentals, Tyson Thomas and RIMSHA, and Silverstar Internet. Special thanks to: Mayor Kennis Lutz, City employees Melody and Ira, Cody Hunt, Justin Fritz, Brian Hasenack, Tyler Plowman, Justin Visser, Troy and Kari Johnson, Frank Magazine, Shannon Bowers, Doug McNeel, Mike Vogt, Eric Byan and Bill Francis.