FLOWER’S COVE, NL – Erin Dempster of Flower’s Cove was elated to bring home first, second and third-place finishes at the Race on the Rock Uphill Drags, held at Marble Mountain April 14.
However, the 16-year old said it was her first-place finish in the 600 Trail that meant the most to her. The Western Sno-Riders, who host the annual event, named the 600 Trail race in memory of Nolan Smith of Grand Falls-Windsor, who excelled in the class the very first time he entered. Nolan died by suicide in 2014. He was 19 years old.
Dempster said winning the race and being presented with her award by Nolan’s father Gord Smith was special for her.
“That award means a lot to me. Knowing the story about why it’s called the Nolan Smith (Class) Award means a lot,” she said.
Gord Smith said he is grateful to the Western Sno-Riders for naming the race in honour of his son.
“Nolan raced at Marble. He won that class. He passed away the same year,” Smith said.
Snowmobiling was Nolan’s favourite thing to do, Smith said.
“Nolan was a very outdoors person. Winter was his favourite (time of year) by far,” he said.
Other events held in his son’s memory such as the annual Nolan Smith Memorial Ride in Grand Falls-Windsor help his family a great deal, he said. The snowmobile ride in central every year is also a fundraiser for two annual $1,000-scholarships for high school students.
The money raised from that ride also helps support the Corduroy Brook Trail Enhancement Association and the Exploits Search and Rescue team.
“We’ve done everything this past three-plus years to promote Nolan’s memory and legacy. It helps us cope with our loss,” Smith said.
On its website (www.westernsnoriders.com) the Race on the Rock is dubbed as a fun-filled day with some of the biggest and fasted sleds from all over Atlantic Canda racing in a number of uphill drag races for the ultimate title: “King of the Hill, ” a title won by Ryan Rowe.
Dempster also placed second in 600 Improved and third in 700 Trail Stock – all great feats for her first year competing in the races.
“They put in four lanes and you race uphill. It’s exciting. It’s a thrill,” she said.
While you have to be 16 to compete, Dempster has been attending the races for many years.
Her father, Bert Dempster, has been a Race on the Rock participant for many years.
“Dad has been racing about 20 years and I’ve been going to watch him for about 10 years. I’ve been wanting to race since I was 12 or 13,” Dempster said.
In a male-dominated sport, she was treated great by all the other racers, she said. There were a few other females racing as well.
“Everyone was congratulating me. They didn’t mind that I was there at all,” she said.
Dempster said ever since she has been old enough to ride a skidoo, she has been riding with her father.
“Dad taught me how to drive. We ride into our cabin. I love it,” she said.
When contacted about his daughter’s tremendous accomplishments during her first Race on the Rock, Bert Dempster said it was great to see his daughter race at Marble Mountain.
Erin has been around snowmobiles since she was four years old, he said.
“I was a bit nervous during her first race (at Marble)... But that’s normal. And it’s so nice to have races out at Marble (Mountain). It’s all lit up and it’s very professional,” he said.
Although 2018 was her first year eligible as a racer, there’s no doubt that this enthusiastic teen will be at the start line again in 2019.
“I’ll definitely be back next year,” she said.