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A Tribute to Snowmobile Moms

Happy Mother's Day to this very special breed of mother!
RELATED TOPICS: SNOWMOBILE
Gordon Faith Doug Wilburt snowmobile helmet Pink Ribbon Riders newborn photo
An as infant, Gordon Wilburt was photographed on his mom Faith's helmet. Faith Wilburt is a Pink Ribbon Riders volunteer, and her husband is retired racer Doug Wilburt.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We thought it would be appropriate to honor all the snowmobile moms out there on their special day. Moms are the glue that holds our snowmobile community together. They ride, they drive, they comfort, they cheer, and they are always there. Thank you to all the snowmobile moms out there, and to Jody, the Director of the Pink Ribbon Riders, for submitting this great article. – Mark Boncher, American Snowmobiler Editor

For Mother’s Day, I’m teaming up with American Snowmobiler to recognize the many women that I like to call “snowmobile moms.”

We’re talking about a different breed of mother. Snowmobile moms can withstand the cold better than any other type of mom. They stand on the sidelines of race courses rooting for their kids on hard-packed ice and snow during wind chills of -10 or below. This is not like being at a warm autumn football game; this is serious mom dedication!
Wenzel Family Michigan Pink Ribbon Riders snowmobile volunteers
The members of the Wenzel family of Michigan are volunteers and participants of Pink Ribbon Riders.
Amber Aiden Lutz Pink Ribbon Riders volunteers snowmobile racing
Amber Lutz and her son, Aiden (of Michigan) are avid snowmobilers and Pink Ribbon Riders volunteers.
Every time you went out for a day-long trail ride, or rode through deep powder in the mountains with your friends, your snowmobile mom waited behind, biting her nails off as she waited for you to return safely.  I know my mom has told me “you be careful out there” more than once. She was secretly terrified.

Snowmobiling is a family sport for sure, but snowmobile moms often get to ride less than other family members because they have to stay behind to take care of little ones who are still too small to ride. Moms are truly unselfish, as many moms are adrenaline junkies too! We also salute all the moms who ride 2-up just to give their children that first taste of snowmobiling. Yep, snowmobile moms pull double duty - no doubt.

My personal history with snowmobiling started around the race track. Moms are the very essence of any race team. You have your racer, you have your mechanic (usually Dad), and then you have the race mom, which is also often referred to as “Team Manager.” But, let’s be honest: without the Team Manager, who would get the team to the races on time? Who would feed everyone during the day, or keep the trailer orderly so the mechanic could find where he left (or threw) the parts and tools between races?

The race mom takes care of everybody, from her own kids, husband and teammates, to the other kids and track workers that come in looking for her home-baked snacks … because she always has enough to go around.
Kristen LaVallee Levi Lavin snowmobile racing trailer
Kristen LaVallee, wife of the famous Levi LaVallee, pauses for a race trailer photo op with their son, Lavin.
Linda Murphy family Pink Ribbon Riders snowmobile mom
Linda Murphy (second from left) will be remembered as the ultimate racing mom for her family in New York.
I never had kids myself, but I do feel honored to write this story. I have worked in the snowmobile industry for many years. At the race track, people would often ask me, “Which one is your kid out there?” And I would say, “Well, all 100 of them.” They would always look at me funny, but for years I watched youngsters like Jake Conway, Hunter Nelson and Shane Martin race their 120s. Kids like Kenny Murphy (racing in Sport class at age 13) became like my own kids.

I was incredibly nervous during the entire race, until the checkered flag flew and they came off the track safely.  Now, looking back 20+ years and having seen these kids grow into the men that they are today, I feel the pride that I know so many moms out there feel. All the other snowmobile moms “loaned” their incredibly precious kids to me. I am eternally grateful that I was able to share in the glory when a child battled for a checkered flag, or received his high school or college diploma.

During the second chapter of my snowmobile industry career, I met moms and children that were involved in another type of battle.

When I started Pink Ribbon Riders, I never knew my love for snowmobiling would bring together so many amazing people and tie together so many lovely moms all over the world. I met moms and children that, during the toughest time of their lives, stayed together just like those tight-knit teams on the race track. A mom battling cancer was still the team manager, making sure her team (family) stuck together like all the duct tape used at the race track.
Pink Ribbon Riders Director Jody McKay mom Betty McKay snowmobile
Contributor and Pink Ribbon Riders Director Jody McKay, and her snowmobile mom, Betty McKay.
Today we celebrate all the “snowmobile moms” out there! It is a day of love and peace that you deserve for putting up with all the kids that make your heart skip in so many ways. Thank you for being supportive and encouraging all the young riders out there to follow their dreams, chase the powder, win the race, or follow the endless miles of trails. Thank you to my mom for standing by me in all my years of craziness and molding me to be the person that I am today.

Finally, I want to dedicate this article to the memory of an amazing racer mom that the snowmobile world lost this week. Linda Murphy of New York was the ultimate snowmobile mom. She was also my inspiration for this article and many other things in life. Linda was my racer mom that kept me going on race weekends, feeding me and even making sure I had photos of myself, and my significant other, for years to come. God speed, Linda. I know you will be watching over all the snowmobilers out there, especially your loved ones on your team. You will be greatly missed, and never forgotten.

As we always say at Pink Ribbon Riders: “Riding in honor and in memory of those we love."

- Jody McKay, Pink Ribbon Riders Director
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