One of snowmobiling’s most colorful characters was recently honored for his racing prowess when he became the first person from the sport to be inducted into the Colorado Motorsports Hall Of Fame.
Dennis Durmas actively competed in various forms of snowmobile racing for nearly 30 years – at first on a local basis in his home state of Colorado before shifting his attention to the large, national race circuits beginning in the 1990s.
He was a top racer for both snocross and cross-country racing on his familiar No. 22 snowmobiles – aboard Ski-Doos until 1997 and then on Polaris thereafter. Later, he returned to the Mountain West, but the competitor known as “the mountain rocker” didn’t slow down – instead he turned his attention to the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association (RMSHA) circuit, where he earned World Championship honors at the Jackson Hole Hillclimb. He also competed in hillcross, ice drags, snow drags and ice oval racing within the snowmobile world over the years, and did a lot of summer racing as well — from dirt track auto racing to MX/dirt bikes, personal watercraft to his current sidelight — competing in a Polaris RZR UTV. He competed in nine different X Games events in snocross and hillcross.
“It was the biggest honor I’ve ever had – bigger than any championship or race I’ve ever won “ Durmas told Snow Goer in a phone interview. “Being the first snowmobile racer in the state in this Hall of Fame is huge, getting our sport on that map there for hopefully more people to follow suit.”
Memorable moments in Durmas’ multi-faceted career include a breakthrough win at the Canterbury Snocross in 1997, sweeping the three Pro snocross classes at the 2000 Eagle River World Champion, and being the first “King of Kings” after winning the Mod class at the 2003 Jackson Hole Hillclimb.
Durmas said longtime friends and acquaintances have “lit up” his phone with congratulatory messages. He name-checked many people who helped him along the way, but we asked him to narrow it to two or three key people.
“The person that got me started racing snowmobiles and helped me a ton – I brought him to the induction with me – was Lynn Felker. He and Gerard Karpik [of TeamFAST Racing] – those are a couple right off the top of my head from the early years,” Durmas said. “Them, and of course my wife, I couldn’t have done it without my wife.”
The induction ceremony was held October 18, 2019, at Infinity Park Event Center in Denver, with nearly 500 people in attendance. Aside from Durmas, the 2019 class included track president John Bandimere Jr., car racers William Canty, Mike Opperman, Robert Prilika, Rick Smith and Charles Wilson, off-road truck racer Wayne Demonja, midget racer and car builder Ody Fellows, and drag racer Butch Salter.
The Colorado Motorsports Hall Of Fame has been recognizing heroes in the Centennial State’s racing world for 41 years and has more than 140 total honorees over the years – however, the vast majority are from wheeled sports.
Its website describes itself as this: “The Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame is committed to honoring and preserving the achievements of individuals and organizations that have left an indelible mark on motorsports in Colorado and beyond. Inductees come from all facets of motorsports: Drivers, builders, mechanics, owners, facility operators and non-profit organizations. And, whether they come from being involved with racing on land or water, they all have the same pedigree: a passion for speed, competition and perfection.”
Though retired from racing, Durmas can still be found at the track — supporting the efforts of his hillclimb racing son, Jonathan Durmas, and serving on the RMSHA board of directors. He also owns and operates Weekender Sports, a Ski-Doo, Polaris and outdoors equipment dealership in Hotchkiss, Colorado.
“My favorite saying is ‘Life without racing is no life at all,’” Durmas said.
With Durmas breaking ground by being the first snowmobiler in the Colorado hall, hopefully other snowmobile racing legends from that state will soon follow and get the recognition they deserve.
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