BRACEBRIDGE - A Bracebridge family is taking their snowmobiling tradition up a notch this year.
READY FOR THE RACES.
Bob Hogg, Chuck McNair and his two sons Mitchell and Steve work to prepare for this year’s snowcross races.
Photo by Jennifer Bowman
Brothers Mitch and Steve McNair began snowmobiling about the same time as they took their first steps, but the brothers didn’t start racing the machines until last year at the ages of 17 and 19. Mitch won his first race with the Canadian Snowcross Racing Association last December while Steve came in sixth.
This year the boys moved up a class, bought new snowmobiles to stiffen the competition, invested in a truck and trailer, and added Bob Hogg, a snowmobile tuner, to their team.
The racing duo became an even bigger family affair when their dad, Chuck McNair, decided to compete in a few races in the master’s class.
“As a family we’ve always snowmobiled together, so I felt if the boys are racing, I might as well join them in the excitement,” he said.
Snowcross competitors race around compact tracks with tight turns, banked corners, and a variety of jumps.
According to the Canadian Snowcross Association’s website, the organization was created in 1994 and has since been a governing body that organizes, promotes, and regulates snowmobile competitions in Canada, as it seeks to bring the sport to its highest level. It said racing fans are split evenly between “white and blue collar professionals with household incomes in excess of $85,000 per annum.”
Hogg thinks waiting to race until later in life may be working to the boys’ advantage.
“I think their intensity comes from the fact that they just started and most of the kids you see, their parents want them to be famous racers and they start them at seven years old. So by the time they’re these guys’ age, they’re pretty well burnt out, but these guys are fresh, they want to go fast,” he said.
The father-sons trio also works together at McNair Electric outside of Bracebridge. For the last three weeks after they call it a day at work, they turn the lights on in the shop and begin working on their snowmobiles. With the help of Hogg, they’re preparing the machines for their first races.
“We’re just tuning,” Steve said. “We can’t exactly tell you exactly what we’re doing.”
However, the mystery involves tweaking a stock snowmobile as much as they can within the rules to gain an edge on the other competitors.
Hogg was a racer for Yamaha years ago, but let his talent lay dormant for years before an old friend encouraged him to become involved again. He worked with another team for the last two years, switching to the McNair team this year.
“It’s very difficult to go from a racer to this job because I could go on the track and feel the whole race and what to do,” Hogg said. “I’m too old to have that feel, so these guys are my everything.”
Being mechanically minded, the boys are able to give Hogg an educated assessment of what’s happening on the track so he can work on the snowmobiles accordingly.
On their website is a countdown calendar to their first race of the year which takes place in Calabogie from Dec. 7 to 9. After that one, the trio is looking forward to competition in a number of races within the province as well as two races in Quebec, one in New York and another in Michigan.
“I’m hungry for the wind,” Steve said.