Sutherlands Lake -
Frigid temperatures could not keep snowmobile-racing lovers away from Sutherlands Lake Saturday.
"What an adrenaline rush!" said Kevin Cooke, 19, of Great Village shortly after completing one race and heading into another.
About 80 participants from throughout the Maritimes revved up for a day of competition on the 660-foot-long lake during the fifth annual event.
More than a thousand spectators took in the action throughout the day. Some huddled together for warmth while others abandoned all sense of the cold weather (about -20 degrees C with the wind chill) and cheered on racers with shouts and clapping that was sometimes muffled by all the layers of mittens and gloves spectators wore to draw some heat.
"It's fun and good competition ... (and) it's surprising how many people come out to watch," said Cooke, who was participating in the event for the second year. Last year, he took home three trophies for his efforts.
Cooke said the secret to successful snowmobile racing is simple.
"Spend a lot of time on your machine to get it in top condition."
Chad Bower has been participating in the event since it began. He said it's hard to compare the thrill of being out in nature and racing on the ice at high speed with anything else.
"It's a rush. It's fun, exciting and fast," said Bower. "The best tip (to winning) is to be ready on the throttle so when you see the green light you are the first one gone."
However, racers must be cautious to not be overzealous. Beginning the race before the green light means you're disqualified.
Bower said, despite the event gaining a lot of spectators Saturday, it's a sport that has "declined" in numbers over the last few years.
"It's mostly die-hards left doing it ... maybe because it's an expensive sport. Some people easily pay $40,000 or more" for their snowmobile.
For race watchers, it's all about the thrill of seeing a friend or family member cross the finish line first and the enthusiasm in the air.
"It's a family sport from kids to grandparents," said Cheryl Cooke, Kevin's mother.
"It's thrilling, good, clean fun in a safe environment."
Lower Onslow's Meagan MacDonald glanced around the crowd and covered her ears as a line of snowmobilers raced past her. She loves winter sports but there are just some things she won't try, including snowmobile racing.
"I'm not brave enough to do it," she laughed.
Saturday's event was hosted by the Sutherlands Lake Trail Groomers Association. Proceeds from the day go toward trail grooming for the 200 km of trail. Last year about $15,000 was raised from the day.
Results of the day saw Perry Power named "King of the Lake" as the overall winner, while Richards Racing of Truro was named runner-up.