MADAWASKA, Maine — Five motor scooter enthusiasts are planning to put some serious mileage on their machines in a race from Imperial Beach, California, to the Four Corners Park in Madawaska.
The racers are taking part in The Real Cannonball, deemed by organizers as “the world’s most extreme motor-scooter endurance race.”
The Greater Madawaska Chamber of Commerce, the town of Madawaska and the Four Corners Park Association, in conjunction with the Motor-scooter International Land-speed Federation, are sponsoring the race.
The racers began their 3,500 journey from the southwest corner of the United States at 9 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 2.
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“These are pretty souped-up units. They’re not your typical moped,” said Madawaska Town Manager Ryan Pelletier. “I asked one of the riders what the top speed was and on the highway he expects to do 70-80 mph.”
The racers are not required to follow a designated route to Madawaska, and Pelletier expects the first racer to arrive at Four Corners Park on either Wednesday or Thursday. Pelletier said he hopes many community members will greet the arriving racers and celebrate with them at the park.
“What we’re hoping is once they get closer — like to Maine — they let us know; and of course when they get to Houlton we’ll start mobilizing,” Pelletier said.
Madawaska Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Brian Bouley and his wife, Cai, a Madawaska school teacher, happened to be visiting relatives in California over the harvest break. They traveled to Imperial Beach to meet up with Motor-scooter International Land-speed Federation President Alan Spears and Imperial Beach Mayor Serge Dedina to see the racers off.
Pelletier said Spears approached Madawaska town leaders two years ago to discuss plans for the race, which Pelletier feels is good for the community and northern Maine in general.
“I think anything we can do to support tourism in the region is always good. I don’t think these motor scooters have a large following, but there are people interested in that. We’re just doing this to support them, to support the event and get some publicity out of it for the community as well,” he said.
Like many athletes, the scooter racers appear to be motivated by a love for their sport, as no monetary prizes will be awarded.
“They love to ride motor scooter — that’s their reward,” Pelletier said. However, the racers will receive trophies and competition medals when they arrive at Four Corners Park.
Updates on rider locations will be posted on the Madawaska chamber’s Facebook page throughout the race. The page also contains a video of Pelletier with the racers before their departure.