By Darren Lum
Like the graffiti script on a wall Izac Reid shows his left arm with the tattoo“live to ride.”
It drives his passion in life and is part of why he races a snowmobile in snowcross.
Racing isn’t just what the 16-year-old Minden teen does for fun it’s who he is and what he thinks about a lot.
Motor racing has been a part of his family ever since he was young.
The Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Grade 11 student has been racing for five years in the Canadian Snowcross Racing Association (CSRA). Snowcross includes several high powered sleds vying for the same lines and the same goal. Winning.
The races are on a course that includes a series of jumps various degrees of radius curves from short to long sweepers and straightaways. Think motocross and you get the idea.
A successful race in snowcross depends on the “hole shot” – being the first competitor to the opening corner.
“You got to focus everything on that light. When the green light goes the first one to the first corner has a huge advantage not only because they’re in first but the roost from other snowmobilers from snow going in your face just slows you up. When you get out front you can just ride really clean. Full vision. Nothing to worry about” he said.
At the line when all the competitors are revving their engines keying on the start Reid focuses.
“I just keep telling myself that I want that hole shot worse than they do. I want to be there first. I need to be there first to the first corner” he said.
He’s always looking to win but loves to race regardless of the outcome.
This season Reid is competing on his Polaris sled in the sport 600 and earning experience in the pro-light classes.
He had a strong opening to the nine race CSRA series at the International Snowcross Grand Prix in Rouyn Noranda Quebec on Jan. 16/17. Reid finished first and third in sport there and then capped it off with a seventh in pro-Lite. He was leading the overall points in the sport class after the event.
A week later in St. Alexia Des-Mont Quebec at the SCMX/CSRA National Snowcross Triple Crown where the field of competitors was far greater because it included Quebec and Ontario riders Reid wasn’t as fortunate and did not have any notable finishes.
As of writing Reid was excited about racing indoors this past weekend at the Royal Distributing Cup National Snowcross in Barrie at Georgian Downs.
It’s a great opportunity he said to enable his entire family including his wheelchair bound grandfather to watch him. This race was also where he cut his racing teeth having raced for the first time there. Two years after he started there he got his first CSRA win.
Reid earned the podium in the sport 600 finals on both days in Barrie capturing first on Saturday and a second place on Sunday.
With Snowcross the track is never the same.
“When you’re on a ice rink all the ice is going to be the same. A basketball court is always going to be the same and a dirt bike track they change a little bit but snowcross track it could be soft snow and then with 15 sleds out there the track completely changes every lap of a race. You just have to be ready for anything” he said.
He has a personal track on his family’s property where he regularly rides three to four days a week to stay sharp if his sled isn’t in need of repairs.
The “whoops” – a series of tightly placed jumps on a straight similar in look to a several camel humps – are the real challenge for him he said. It not only requires strength and stamina but also focus to not make a mistake.
When it comes to the rush of catching air or hitting the perfect line there’s not much that’s better. Reid has done it on everything bikes ATVs and dirt bikes to snowmobiles.
“Anything I could get on I pretty much like to jump. It’s always been one of my favourite things. I like to get in the air” he said.
The teen is quick to point out that while racing getting air isn’t part of being fast.
He appreciates the all of the support he has received in his racing career. His parents (sometimes his sister) and family friends Jeff and wife Carleen Milburn have always been there cheering him on supporting him any way they can whether it was with morale or with mechanical help.
It’s this family atmosphere that really stands out to the teen.
“I’ve never had a sport that has so many families involved. Every team is just so friendly and family-based. Everybody’s out there to have fun and win at the same time which is great” he said.
He said it started with them as spectators of snowcross racing.
Like any type of racing there are crashes but because of the limited racing lines on each course there can be a lot of contact between sleds and riders.
The physical jostling between as many as 10 other sledders doesn’t bother Reid after several years of experience. He accepts it’s part of the sport.
Long term Reid has set his sights on making the pro open class.
He has considered a professional career but knows that would most likely be possible in the US where the sport is larger in its coverage fields support and purses are greater.
With several years he has matured as a racer and took the main lesson taught at this past summer at a fitness bootcamp to heart which is to always “ride smart.”
“Focus one step at a time when I’m on the track. Take one corner at a time one jump at a time. You can’t start thinking of the end of the race before the end of the race or you’ll crash or something will happen” he said.
Reid has applied it to his off-season workouts which have evolved into focusing on muscle stamina instead of strength and include stretching. His ability to recover from a weekend of racing has dramatically improved. He will compete close to 12 motos/heats (races to make the finals) a weekend not including practice sessions.
He wants younger riders to understand the bigger picture instead of being overly aggressive.
“You just got to remember ride smart … until last year I was always the kid that was placing some weekends and other weekends I’d over ride and crash and not finish some races. It’s all about consistency” he said.