I just received a postcard in the mail inviting me to three annual events in the Island Park area that have always provided a fun diversion during the season—the Women’s Rally on Jan. 26, Co-Ed Rally on Feb. 9, and Ol’ Man’s Rendezvous on Feb. 23.
These are sort of like organized trail rides where the speed restrictions on the groomed trails have been removed to allow the competitive juices to flow. Some folks call them races … but other than the 100 mph straightaways across the flats, for the most part they are just fun trail rides where longtime friends get together for some bragging rights.
But this wasn’t what actually captured my attention. The postcard mentioned that longtime event director Bill Smith was retiring after this season. For those who don’t recognize the name Bill Smith, this is someone who has been involved in eastern Idaho racing for about five decades. He was the first announcer at the World Snowmobile Expo in West Yellowstone and has either announced, promoted or raced in events for as long as snowmobiles have been around.
My friendship with Bill goes back about 30 years. Bill and I actually raced together as a two-man team in the now defunct Rocky Mountain Cross Country Racing Circuit … and we both still wear our first-place belt buckles that we captured for a full season of racing.
Bill would admit that we really weren’t fast … but we were consistent and made a solid team week in and week out. Even now we have found memories of our days racing … as well as lingering back pains from riding the sleds of the 80s through four-foot moguls from race venues like Cooke City, Georgetown, Ashton, St. Anthony and Bellevue.
Bill is one of those guys who always has been committed, devoted and loyal to the sport. He has been the perfect volunteer—always willing to work and assist, never seeking personal glory and as honest as the day is long. And after all these years of service, it’s about time he takes a well-deserved vacation.
So if you’re in the Island Park area during these three race dates, be sure to stop in and shake his hand and tell him “good job.” He truly is one of the good guys.
And now with all of his spare time, I wonder if he’s about ready to get back into racing? I could use a new belt buckle.