Powassan's Smoke 'n' Spurs festival is a muddy good time.
There were lots of events going on at the festival, like bull riding and western horseback riding, but this was the first year for the Ontario Mud Racing circuit and the mud bogs, and that’s what I was there for. The OMR had seen a lot of awesome races and challenging courses throughout the season, but this last race was for all the bragging rights till next spring. The races where setup into 7 Classes. Class A was 0-499cc, Class B was 499-649cc, Class C 649-749cc, Class D 750-850cc, Class E 851-976cc and the open class was Class F, followed by the women’s class which was Class G.
The smell of race fuel and the loud pumping of twin cylinders filled the air as the mudhole sat there waiting to be challenged. Once Registration and a bit more tweaking of the pits was done, the racing began. The races were set up slightly different than normal. In a normal race, cc’s are set up smallest to biggest throughout the day but they tried something different, spreading the cc classes out at different times throughout the day. The pit was a single lane timed mud drag that was between 2-2.5 feet deep and in some spots closer to three feet. They used timing lasers to get the most accurate time for those very close races.
First class to go was the Class A (0-499cc). This brought out some close racing and even guys on three-wheelers, which was a neat thing to see, and surprisingly they did very well in the pits. The podium for Class A was first place Rob Franklin (Arctic Cat), second Place Aaren “The KID”(Polaris Sportsman 400) and third place was Chantal Rizzo ( Can-am Outlander 400) .
The next race was a big step up with Class E (851-976cc). These bikes screamed through the pits without any problem, non-stop action and one of the biggest turn outs for bikes that day. Leaders for the races included first place Jeremy Dupuis, second Place Jay Warner and third Place Steve Turner; all the racers put on an awesome show and very close racing within milliseconds of each other. They were all riding modded Can-Am’s. Between races there was also a dash for cash, which is open to anybody willing to run through the 2.5-foot-deep pits for $100, which is always a funny thing to watch or even compete in – but make sure to wear clothes you don’t care about, because they will be ruined.
After the intermission, Class B (499-649cc) was up, and things got more challenging and deeper as the day went on. The winners in this class were: first place Jay Warner (Can-am Outlander), second Place Rob Franklin (Arctic Cat) and third Kevin Boulanger (Yamaha Grizzley 550). For a smaller cc class, these guys also put on a good show, speeding through the mud even with the pit getting deeper. A lot of skills on display here! After the mid-sized bikes ran, the big bore riders took the pit with their 750-850cc Class D bikes. This was another podium dominated by Can-Am riders with the famous 800cc Outlander and Renegade. First place went to Keith Warner (Can-am Outlander), second Place Steve Turner (Can-am) and third Place Jeff Bowman (Can-am XMR 800).
After the big boys were done, the ladies came out to show them how it’s done in the Open Women’s Class. These girls could ride, and put on some good racing and close competition, handily beating some of the guys at times. Katherine Turner, the first place winner of the Women’s Class, dominated the pits with a 16 second run on her Can-Am Outlander 1000 followed by second place, Josee Lapointe (Polaris Sportsman 850) and third place, Chantal Rizzo (Can-am Outlander 800 XMR).
As the last intermission of the dash for cash ended with many more muddy people, we had our final two classes of racers. The pits were really deep at this point and getting deeper by the minute. The Class C (649-749) was up next. This was the class I was racing my stock 2009 Honda Rincon in. A little nervous about how deep it was, I jumped in the pit grinning ear to ear. I had so much fun with the adrenaline pumping hard. Because I have no snorkels, I came in seventh, which wasn’t last, so I was happy with my day, especially racing against first place Brian Warner (Can-am Outlander 650), second place Jay Warner and third place Jaysen Hill ( Can-am Outlander 650 XMR), who were on the podium all day long.
The last class was the long-awaited open class. This is where the nitrous and big lift kits come to the starting line. These races are so fast and close that they are usually won in milliseconds, not seconds. The rain started pouring down. The pit was deeper and rutted up and things became a little more challenging for the racers, wreaking havoc on a few bikes sending them out of the race. Even with all the carnage there was finally a winner declared. After taking the second first place finish of the day, Katherine Turner (Can-am Outlander 1000) was the winner of the opener, followed by second place Georges Champagne, who was the only Kawasaki Brute Force on the podium all day, and third place went to Jaysen Hill (Can-am Outlander).
The volunteers at the Powassan Smoke 'n' Spurs mud bog do an awesome job, setting up the pits and running the event all day. This race being the last on the circuit really shows the intensity of the racing and makes for an incredible day, even in the pouring rain. If you’re travelling from far and are looking for a place to stay, camping is available right on site. And if you want to try out some of the beautiful trail riding in the area, there are a lot of great and affordable options for places to stay in North Bay.