Vintage snowmobile enthusiasts gathered at Briar's Beach on Unity Pond Saturday, Feb. 6, to watch racers fly around a plowed-out oval and enjoy each other's company outdoors.

This was the second year of Unity Ice Ovals, an event born out of a passion for racing on ice. The weather could not have been more agreeable, with temperatures in the upper 30s and plenty of sunshine. Families, friends and gearheads alike came together for a day filled with excitement and fun.

Darren Doughty, one of the event organizers, said the races at Unity Pond have skyrocketed in popularity. It is "out of control," he said, referring to the amount of support they have received.

Facebook has gone through the roof, he said, with positive comments from people who just want to get outside.

As far as he can figure, Doughty said, the event doubled in size compared to last year, in regard to the number of people and racers from "all over." "It's huge!" he said.

This year, there were over 100 sleds competing in the event, which offered several classes.

Some of the categories include stock and modified single-cylinder sleds, junior classes of 10- to 13-year-olds and 14- to 17-year-olds, ladies' class 500 cc or less, stock or modified 340/440, and several classes of 500 cc. There is also a masters class for people over 50 and a senior class for 62 and older.

Doughty, along with Mike Lancaster, organized the event last year because of their love of racing. His family has always been into racing and the idea for the Unity race oval came about after seeing races in Howland. “We thought, why not do it ourselves?”

Saturday the ice was perfect, with a hard crust developing after a warm spell earlier in the week.

Since last year, Doughty said, the group has become a nonprofit, which enables it to apply for grants. Larry King of the Unity Economic Development Committee has joined their ranks as treasurer and has been a big help, Doughty said.

This year the group received a $1,500 grant from the town of Unity. Nick Huff, who was the announcer at the races, also helped a great deal and is the committee's vice president.

If Doughty has his way, he would love to see the event grow even bigger, as it has in Wisconsin, where snowmobile ice derby championships are held.

"We are following their lead," he said. "I'd like to see people from here compete in the championships (in Wisconsin)."

If you missed this weekend's first Unity Ovals races, another event is planned for Feb. 20 starting around noon, with the final races taking place under the lights.

Doughty said his family had seven sleds racing in the derby Saturday. He had four snowmobiles competing, his brother had three, along with his cousin Sarah racing in the women's class, and his son Damien racing modified 340 and 440 sleds.

Lancaster said it "was a lot of work to get this ready, but well worth it," in the group's Facebook post. He thanked everyone who helped with parking and flagging the corners, as well as Robert Wlodyka, Frank Drew and Charlie Carson, who hauled broken-down sleds.

Doughty thanked the Unity Ambulance and Fire Department, the Waldo County Sheriff's Office, and event sponsors Sunbelt Rentals, Mac's True Value, Mammie's Country Kitchen and Nitro Trailers.