The 43rd Alcan 200 offers $1,500 in guaranteed prize money for the first local finisher on Saturday at 42 Mile Haines Highway.
Chris Brooks of Haines is a top contender for the honor, after earning $750 for his second-place overall finish last year on a 1997 Yamaha 700 SX.
“Really, the biggest thing is just to finish; that’s the goal,” Brooks said. “There is an incredible amount of time that goes into getting ready for this, and it would just be nice to finish.”
Brooks, in his fifth year racing the Alcan, has scratched once, due to an overheated engine.
He said the extra money would provide “a little more motivation to go a little quicker.” The prize is courtesy of a $1,000 donation from Mary Miles in memory of late husband Dennis Miles, plus contributions from the Fogcutter Bar and Howsers.
The 10 a.m. Alcan covers 155 miles, from the Canada Customs station to Dezadeash Lake and back. The highway will be closed from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Alaska Standard Time for the race.
“These guys are able to go as fast as they want or, if they don’t want to go real fast, they’re able to go as fast as they can in their class,” said Karen Hess, race organizer and president of the Chilkat Snowburners. “The fact that it has different classes appeals to racers, because if you don’t have a big, souped-up machine you can race with a smaller-size machine and still finish up, if you’re lucky enough to hold it together.”
She said the event, billed as “the longest snowmachine road race in North America,” has been popular for decades “because of the challenge of it being on the highway, and it’s just wide open.”
Last year’s overall winner, Jarrid Davy of Whitehorse, finished in 1:33.28 on a 2008 Yamaha Apex Turbo with 260 horsepower, for an average speed of 99.5 mph. The Alcan had 28 registrants, mostly from Interior Alaska and Canada, vying for the $1,000 top prize.
“It’s really fantastic to be able to compete with people from all over the state and the Yukon,” Brooks said. “There are a lot of really good people running and helping out with the race.”
Jack Smith Jr., another Haines racer, also fared well in 2011, with a second-place finish in his class (551-650 cc).
Organizer Hess said last year’s race “was brutal, with a lot of bare pavement,” and she has “no idea” what conditions are like near Dezadeash.
Race registration starts 5:30 p.m. Friday at the Fogcutter Bar. The driver entry fee is $325. A Calcutta auction of the racers will follow registration at the Fogcutter.
An awards banquet is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at the Elks Lodge. Another new offering is $1,000 for the “Rookie of the Year,” resulting from a donation by Lila Young of Cantwell.