Fun just to ride: Whitewater snowmobiler wants to retire with world title in hand
There would be nothing better than capping a 22-year snowmobile racing career with a world championship.
Dennis Durmas gets that chance this weekend in his final Snowmobile Hillclimb World Championship race in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The World Championship events begin Friday and continue through Sunday.
“I want to win at Jackson Hole,” Durmas said. “That would make my career.”
The Jackson Hole race is a 1,500-foot climb and takes racers anywhere from 1- to 11⁄2-minutes to complete.
“At Jackson Hole, anything can happen,” Durmas said. “It’s a tough hill to conquer. With the lack of snow this year, it’s going to be even worse with the rocks and stumps sticking out.”
The 44-year-old Whitewater man is retiring to spend more time snowmobiling with his 10-year-old son, Johnathon.
“He likes to ride,” Durmas said. “He doesn’t want to race now, which is fine with me. It’s fun just to ride.”
Durmas has raced in the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association since 1997 and has raced snowmobiles for 22 years. He competes in the pro open modified, pro master modified, 800 modified, pro master stock and 800 stock classes. Engine enhancers are allowed in the modified sleds but not in stock sleds.
Durmas is using a turbo engine this season for the first time.
“Turbo has more horsepower,” Durmas said. “You can go 60-70 miles per hour.”
He won the 800 modified class at Jackson Hole in 2003 to earn a spot in the King of the Hill race against the other modified class champions and won that race. He then competed in the King of Kings race against the stock champion and won that title.
Durmas said he is the only person from Colorado to win the King of the Hill race.
He has won several class races since then, but not the King of Kings or King of the Hill.
“It’s tough,” he said. “In 2004, I didn’t win anything. I got smoked. It was a humbling experience. It’s not always fun to get beat.”
Durmas won the pro master modified championship the past two years and was third in the pro masters stock class last year.
“I’ve had a lot of good times,” Durmas said. “I love the sport of snowmobiling. The racing has made it that much more fun. When you’re a competitor, you thrive to compete. I’ll ride a snowmobile until I die. I may die riding, you never know.”
Durmas is third in the 2010 RMSHA pro open modified season points standings. Teammates Cole Willford of Fruita and Josh Hartlerode of Fruita are eighth and 16th, respectively.
Durmas is second in the pro master modified class. He trails Rusty Johnson of Ogden, Utah, by 62 points for the title with three races left in the season.
“I would love to win a class,” Durmas said. “That’s my goal. There’s a chance I can. I’m in the running. I’ve been running good enough to win, but it’s such a tough climb.
“Anything can happen there. You do the best you can and come away with a smile.”