VINTAGE SNOWCROSS IS MOTORSPORT AT ITS FINEST
Left forefinger on the brake, right thumb gently pressing the throttle. Eyes on the green flag. The snowmobile I’m sitting on is lined up next to nine others on the starting line. Side by side, ski by ski, ten women behind the handlebars. I can hear my own pounding heartbeat and the rising engine speed that carries through the earplugs. The flag swings, and I hit the throttle. The snowmobile rushes forwards, as do the nine others next to me. We are racing!
Lynx G-Type Racing from the model year 1999 – still a pureblooded race sled! Photo: Susanna Kujasalo
I aim for the inside line for the first corner. The sled follows my orders, even though it is the first time I’m riding it. I have ridden a snowmobile before, but never one quite like this. This one is a Lynx G-type, model -99. I, on the other hand, have only ever first sat on a snowmobile some 15 years later.
It is April 2021, but the snowmobiles gathered at the Proboost Arctic Center snowcross track in Rovaniemi give no hint of the ongoing year. A wide range of sleds is represented, from the 70s old school leafers to the models of the early 2000s. The modern-day snowmobiles are conspicuously absent. The Wintage Weikot snowmobile club is holding its final vintage snowcross race of the season.
The event has brought together a great number of racers, but alongside long-term enthusiasts, there are also many rookies on the starting line today. The club has noted the enthusiasm for snowmobiling among a growing number of women and arranged a chance for women riders to come and try the sport. They are loaning out vintage snowmobiles for those willing to race.
Racing requires courage, and these women do not lack it. They have taken the opportunity and embarked on an adventure. Many of them have never raced before, let alone measured their skills and speed on a snowcross track. In addition to sheer courage, it requires bravery verging on madness to line up on the starting line with a foreign snowmobile. The vintage snowmobiles differ from modern-day sleds in many ways. The geometry of the sled and the low riding position make the handling different, and the engine with a carburetor, choke, and primer proves challenging to start if one isn’t familiar with the tricks.
The women have thrown themselves into the adventure. Some have traveled hundreds of kilometers just to get to spend a few laps behind the handlebars of a vintage sled. Retro outfits have been dug out of the wardrobes to function as theme-fitting racing gear. The racers make brief acquaintance with their loaned snowmobiles under the guidance of the sled-owners, and off they go. After two practice laps, it is time for action. I have hardly had time to familiarize myself with the G-type underneath me, but apparently, a Lynx is always a Lynx. It feels just right – good to ride and good in my heart.
Some sleds gain more speed than others, but every racer has just as much fun. Vintage race is all about the community spirit, the thrill of exceeding oneself and the joy of riding. Photo: Susanna Kujasalo
There are real battles seen on the racetrack: overtaking, jumps, and tight corners. The ten snowmobiles create a snarl-up in the first corner, but the whole bunch reaches the finish line unharmed. The sport offers entertainment and not only a battle of racing skills, but also a rivalry of the engines. Some sleds gain more speed than others, but every racer has just as much fun judging by the grins revealed from under the helmets. The charm of speed, the joy of riding, and the thrill of exceeding oneself shine on the racers' faces.
At the end of the day, there are many newborn racers eager to continue the sport of vintage snowmobiling. The gratitude for the great opportunity is repeated in the discussions in the pit area. The sled owners have shown tremendous trust by loaning their snowmobiles to the rookies willing to try racing. The experience has been addictive. A dream of their very own vintage snowmobile already flickers in the minds of many of the women.
Fortunately, vintage snowmobile racing is a reasonably low-threshold hobby to get started with. Vintage sleds can be purchased at an affordable price, although they often require a bit more work and care than modern equipment. But you learn by doing, and in this kind of good company, help is guaranteed. There is a relaxed and joyful atmosphere in the pit area, and help is given to those struggling with their machines. The battle only takes place on the racetrack. And even then, the main thing is to enjoy the sport and spend time with those who share your passion. This is motorsports at its finest.
Venla Jyrkinen is a passionate snowmobiler who enjoys the sport in all its forms. Long-distance rides, deep snow adventures, and picking up speed on trails and racetracks – she loves it all. Venla started snowmobiling in 2016 after moving up north to Inari in the Finnish Lapland. She has since been seen on enduro and sprint racetracks in Finland, and in 2020 she took part in the Cain’s Quest endurance race, held in Labrador, Canada. This spring, she took on a new kind of challenge and debuted in a vintage snowcross race together with nine other brave women.
Retro outfits and good atmosphere are essential part of the sport. Me and my riding friends Arja and Marianne.
The story of Lynx began in 1967. Learn about interesting Lynx facts from different decades.
How a Finnish lady became a snowmobile racer?
There’s a Lynx snowmobile designed for every type of rider. Explore the options to find the one that’s right for you.