Snowmobile racing kicks off this weekend at the ISOC Amsoil Duluth National Snocross in Duluth, Minnesota. This year marks the 20th annual race that started as a simple bumps course in front of the chalet and has evolved into the most-anticipated race of the year.
Classes have been restructured for the 2011-12 season. Traditional Pro class riders — your Tucker Hibberts, Ross Martins and Robbie Malinoskis — will race in just one class: Pro Open. These are the 600cc, two-strokes with modified exhaust and engines; if you look closely, you might even find some experimental chassis or suspension technology, too.
The new Pro Lite class is made up of riders who, in seasons before, were called semi-pros. Pro Lite riders compete on 600cc Super Stock models: Arctic Cat Sno Pro 600, Polaris 600 IQ Race Sled and Ski-Doo MX Zx 600 RS. There will be Pro Open and Pro Lite finals on Saturday and Sunday. Running one class is more cost-effective and makes it easier for the teams as they only have to keep one sled running.
A cold front blew through Duluth late last week and allowed Spirit Mountain crews to make “a lot of snow,” according to ISOC Race Director Carl Schubitzke. The racetrack is unchanged from last year — it ran clockwise and the starting gate was closer to spectators — but adjustments this year will improve sightlines, Schubitzke said. Bleachers have been re-positioned, the back stretch will be higher and the front will be lower.
Spectator parking is at the Proctor fairgrounds with a free shuttle.