Grand Targhee snowmobile hill climb revs up for spring

The Skyliners Motor Club has teamed up with Grand Targhee Resort to bring a two-day snowmobile hill climb event to the slopes of the resort this spring.

The race will be sanctioned by the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hill Climb Association {RMSHA} and the inaugural competition could become an annual event in the valley.

Grand Targhee will close normal winter operations on Sunday, April 20, 2014 this season, and the hill climb event is scheduled for the following weekend, Saturday, April 26, and Sunday, April 27, making a bonus weekend for snowmobilers, spectators, and skiers alike.

Ken Rider, director of marketing for the resort, said there are still a lot of details to pull together, but they are planning on running the Dreamcatcher high-speed quad lift.

The racecourse will be setup under Dreamcatcher starting at the base of Targhee. The course will be run on the Sweetwater and Big Thunder trails. Spectators will be able to watch the event from the base area, the Trap Bar deck, from the chairlift and skiing along the racecourse. Big screen TVs will also be set up at the base.

The course will be built to RMSHA standards and include gates and sections the riders must clear in the fastest time.

The event is expected to be a big boost to the local economy.

Wade Kaufman, president of Skyliners Motor Club, said he expects the event to draw anywhere from 1,500 to 5,000 people visiting the Valley this first year.

“This is one of many events we are planning and being involved with to help the economy locally and also to provide something of entertainment for folks,” said Kaufman.

Targhee is still working out the details for lodging. Kaufman said rooms at the resort would likely book fast, but with so many people in town, other area hotels, gas stations, restaurants and other businesses are expected to benefit.

Skyliners originally formed in 1968, and then revved back up a couple years ago with the mission to preserve and enhance the motor user’s rights on public lands in Teton Valley.

The hill climb fits with their mission statement of education, service and participation.

“There’s a lot of excitement with motor sports,” said Kaufman. “But this isn’t strictly for motorheads. There’s something to be had by all, and it will contribute to the community.”

District Ranger for the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Jay Pence, said the event was approved under a special use permit within Grand Taghee’s Winter Operations Plan. From the Forest Service’s perspective, he said having these types of events at ski areas makes sense because of the concentrated use opportunity. To have this type of race in the general forest just wouldn’t work. Targhee is already set up to accommodate parking and has the infrastructure needed for the public.

“I think it’s awesome,” said “Rocky Mountain” Rob Kincaid, a professional snowmobile hill climb racer from Victor and rider for Team Arctic Cat. “The whole valley will see a big impact on bringing a big event like this here. Everyone will benefit and it’s a good chance for people to come out, watch it and see what it’s all about.”

Kincaid travels throughout the Intermountain West on the RMSHA racing circuit. He said he’s looking forward to racing in his backyard.

The Targhee Hill Climb is the last race of the season on the RMSHA circuit, so it will be the final points standing race for the year.

The weekend will start with qualifying races on Saturday, beginning at 8 a.m. There will also be a mountain cross race, where multiple riders will race up the course side by side. The kid’s class 120 championships will also happen on Saturday. Saturday evening will feature a racers tailgate party. The resort is also expected to try and book a live band for a Saturday night party.

Sunday will feature the finals for professional racers, the dash-for-cash race and the “locals class” race. There will also be the upcoming year’s products from various snowmobile vendors and demo rides will also be available.

Kaufman said they will have registration set up on Friday night at a local business in the valley.

Kaufman said they expect the hill climb to be great and are looking at it as a yearly event they want to develop even further to include a great cross section of people.

The idea has been tossed around about possibly adding a type of snowmobile skijor event, where a skier would be pulled uphill by a snowmobile and driver.

“I’m not opposed to it,” said Kaufman. “I’d love to see any kind of diversity for theses events. We plan on growing this.”

Hal Titensor, vice president of RMSHA, said the organization is excited about the Targhee event. He said they are always looking for new places to host races and there were several things that were attractive about Targhee.

“The terrain and the fact that they have late snow,” said Titensor. “We race throughout the season and get to the end of April and snow conditions start dwindling in areas.”

He said Targhee keeps snow at the higher elevation. They also look for some place that has motels and restaurants that can accommodate large crowds, he said.

It’s also fairly centrally located for racers and their families who come from Idaho, Utah, Montana and Wyoming.

“We expect it to be a great weekend,” said Rider.

Skyliners Motor Club is still looking for businesses that are interested in being sponsors. Those interested can contact Kaufman at More information and registration can be found at and at

This article appeared in the Teton Valley News on 12/19/13.