In This Snowmobile Race, Snow is Unnecessary

Watercross race i i

In a watercross race near Manchester, N.H., snowmobiles skim the surface of a pond at 50 mph. hide caption

itoggle caption
Watercross race

In a watercross race near Manchester, N.H., snowmobiles skim the surface of a pond at 50 mph.

Diver Bud Gordon

Diver Bud Gordon's job is to retrieve the losers after every race. Robert Smith, NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Robert Smith, NPR

Long before the first snowfall, winter warriors pull out their snowmobiles to race them on whatever surface they can find: asphalt, grass and even water. Robert Smith attended a watercross event on a pond outside of Manchester, N.H.

As a couple of thousand fans look on during a drizzly Sunday afternoon, the machines go around the course, racing more than two miles. The 400-pound snowmobiles don't float. But the laws of physics seem to be suspended briefly. If they go fast enough, the machines do manage to stay above water.

But when the drivers take a turn too sharply, their vessels quickly sink. That's when diver Bud Gordon goes to work. It's his job to retrieve the losers after every race.

"Everybody always sinks," says Scott Mosher, a driver who has just been pulled to shore after his snowmobile went under. "If you aren't sinking you aren't racing."

BY the end of the afternoon, every wet dog has his day. Mosher, who spent more time swimming than riding in that earlier race, ends up winning the final.

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