First place feels good for Heidelberg native, Taylor Stewart.
Stewart stood atop the podium last weekend in the Pro-Lite category at Canadian Snowcross Racing Association’s Royal Distributing Cup at Kitchener’s Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort.
“It was good. I’ve been kind of struggling all year, and it feels really good to come out at my local race and win the first heat, for sure. It’s good for confidence and happy to be out front,” said Stewart after winning his first race of the weekend. He would go on to win three more heats that weekend.
He goes into the Ultimax Snowcross Finals for the final championship race at Horseshoe Valley Resort this weekend only 15 points behind second place in the overall standings.
“The racing next weekend at the final weekend, it’s going to be really close and tight. It’s going to come down to every last point of every last race,” he said.
The winter conditions this year have been unpredictable, with unexpected thaws and refreezes. Managing this has been difficult, especially when it means racing events are canceled, Stewart said.
“It’s been hard this winter because we’ve had a couple of races that have been canceled due to the warm weather and the lack of snow. And when the points are super close, you kind of need every weekend you can get to get as many points as you can. It’s made it tough, for sure.”
Stewart races in the Pro-Lite category for London Racing.
Stewart says his family has always participated in recreational snowmobiling, but the moment he tried racing, he was hooked.
But staying in the race takes commitment. He runs his own concrete and excavating company in the spring, summer and fall, and dedicates the winter to racing full time.
“It takes drive, you have to want it,” he said. “It’s not like just a weekend thing where you throw your sled in your trailer and just go race. It’s a commitment of having a team that can tune and have the sled 100 per cent. You physically have to be in shape because it’s a super demanding sport. It’s mentally draining and then you mix injury into it, which is super common in our sport. It can be dangerous, for sure. So there’s a lot of variables that can happen.
“There’s definitely a part of me sometimes when it’s a long race and you’re battling and you’re getting snow blasted in your face and your body’s tired and you’re not doing well, that you kind of want to give up – it’s mentally draining,” he said, adding “There’s just something about racing and the reward of winning and doing well, that’s just a good feeling. So it pushes you to continue to do well to achieve that.”
Stewart also made a point of mentioning his team, including Mike Schmidt, owner of London Racing and the personnel who work on his sled every week to ensure it stays tuned and working perfectly, and his family and friends.
“When I’m on that track, it’s an individual sport, but as far as getting to where I’m at today, it’s not an individual sport. I wouldn’t be able to be where I am today without my team and family and friends who support me doing this.”
He says next year he will compete in the Pro category, but would like to end the Pro-Lite category season as strongly as possible.
“Snowcross is an awesome sport. I think it takes a lot of time and money and investment to get into it, but it’s a family sport and it’s something that if you have a true passion for and you love to do, I don’t think there’s any better way to spend your time during the winter. It teaches you a lot of things in life, not just with racing. If you put time and effort into something, you can achieve whatever you want to.”