Fascinating Snowmobile Hill Climb Results From Jackson

The big daddy of snowmobile hill climb racing certainly didn’t disappoint this year.

     The 47th annual Jackson Hole World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb race March 21-24 brought together the sport’s very best racers and a particularly challenging run on at Snow King Mountain in Jackson, Wyoming. The weekend started with hard-packed icy conditions and trasitioned into times of heavy snow and occasional white-outs.

     Those factors helped make an already super-challenging course extra tough this year. Traction was ever-changing as competitors raced up the hyper-steep slope through challenging gates and over rocks and catwalks. Racers crawled all over their sleds, which featured varying level of modification depending on the classes, and struggled to keep forward momentum in the landmine of obstacles.

     In all, competition was held in 30 classes, meaning 30 World Champions of Hill Climb racing were crowned. But when the noise on the hill stopped, Justin Thomas earned overall King Of King honors in a tight competition against his friend and rival Keith Curtis.

     Let’s break it down by division.

Polaris Jackson
Polaris posted this on social media celebrating Justin Thomas’ overall victory at the Jackson Hole World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb.

Six Winners In Stock Snowmobile Hill Climb

Racing in the Stock division was a truly mixed bag, as six different drivers split the top spots in the six different classes. And further reflecting the parity, three of those winners rode Polaris and three rode Ski-Doos.

     The results also reflected the toughness of the conditions, as highmarks on the hill rather than times over the top determined most of the winners.

      The first class championship Sunday was claimed by veteran racer Wes Selby. The 38-year-old from Grand Lake, Colorado, switched to a Ski-Doo a couple of years ago, and managed to put the high mark on the hill on a Summit near gate 28. Nate Suter and Garth Kaufman rounded out the podium.

     Taylor Lindy, 28, of Gallatin Gateway, Montana, soon followed with a victory in 700 Stock, taking a 650 RMK higher up the hill and through the gates than anybody. He sent the crew help scattering a couple of times before stopping just short of gate 29. Young rising star Dylan Hart, 20, of Lolo, Montana, finished second, with Kyle Heap third.

     Veteran Polaris racer Luke Rainey, 37, of Thayne, Wyoming, was one of three competitors in 900 Stock to make it to the top, and he did so 3.5 seconds faster than Blaine Mathews to take the win, with Jay Mentaberry third.

      A bit later, Mathews returned to the hill in 1000 Stock and ran the hill in 1:24.03 to earn himself and Ski-Doo the top honors. Sam Peterson finished a mere 0.61 seconds behind in second, with Mentaberry filling out the podium once more.

     The Open Stock class that lets the turbos run was taken by longtime Jackson dominator Keith Curtis of Dillon, Montana, on a Polaris. He was the only driver in the class to crest the top of the hill, running it in 1:20.8. Justin Thomas and Mason Rutledge highmarked their way into second and  third, respectively.  

     The ever-popular Carl Kuster returned to Jackson to claim the Pro Masters Stock class on a Ski-Doo. The 48-year-old BC native set a time of 1:40.06 and narrowly held off Trent Handsaker by 0.85  seconds, with Brand Sharp third.  

Improved Stock Snowmobile Hill Climb

The parity continued in the Improved Stock division when five different drivers won the five classes – this time with Ski-Doo racers winning the two highest-displacement classes, Polaris racers taking the two middle classes and an Arctic Cat racer taking the 600 class.

      That Cat racer was Russ Tapio, 37, of Battle Ground, Washington, who made it just above gate 28. He edged Wes Selby and Tanner Thomas for top honors in 600 Improved Stock.

       After finished second in 700 Stock behind Taylor Lindy, Dylan “The Flyin’ Hawaiian” Hart ripped his way up to gate 27 to take the class win on his Polaris, with Lindy second and Tanner Thomas with another third.

     Veteran racer Trent Handsaker, 49, of Kamas, Utah, ran the fast time in Pro Masters Improved Stock on his Ski-Doo. Kyle Tapio and Carl Kuster ran second and third.

     Hillclimb superstar Keith Curtis earned 900 Improved Stock honors. He ran his No. 711 Polaris through the gates and over the top in 1:20.95, more than 10 seconds faster than Brennan Mulvahill in second and 14 seconds better than third place Kameron Lindsay.  


      Brock Sharp, 24, of Moxee, Washington, was the first racer to attack the hill in 1000 Improved Stock, and he made it over the top in 1:22.35 on his Ski-Doo. Nobody else could get close and he won the class by 8.65 seconds over Taylor Lindy in second and Brennan Mulvahill in third.  

Mod Division Snowmobile Hill Climb

Justin Thomas, 27, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, was the first one to run in the 600 Mod class on his Polaris, and he was the first racer of the day to go over the top. He recorded a time of 1:31.89. After Carl Kuster had a mechanical failure, five other racers took a shot at the hill, but nobody else in the class was able to make it to the top, earning Thomas the win. Tanner Thomas and Toby Shepherd completed a Polaris sweep of the podium.

     Snowmobile hillclimb racing has many second-generation competitors. One of the most popular right now is Riley Kincaid, son the late Rob Kincaid. The 23-year-old from Victor, Idaho, was the only rider to legally make it to the top, doing so in 1:36.34 on his Cat and earning the win. Toby Shepherd also made it to the top but missed a gate. He still rode high enough before that foible to claim second. It was Kincaid’s first Pro win at Jackson after winning in Semi Pro in the past.

     The snow really started to fall by the time 900 Mod sleds took to the hill, but there was no holding back these power monsters and their talented drivers. The top 10 racers all made it over the top and recorded times, but 27-year-old Justin Thomas set the day’s fastest time in any regular class with a magical run of 1:15:53. Second-place finisher Andy Thomas’ time of 1:17.32 would have won any other class, but it wasn’t good enough to top his cousin in this one.  Brock Sharp was a strong third place.

      Near whiteout conditions socked in the hill for awhile when the Pro Masters Mod class ran. Trent Handsaker made his way through the snow and fog in a time of 1:30.9 to win the class on his Ski-Doo. Dolan Phelps finished second on his Polaris and 64-year-old Faron Gilbert of Cascade, Idaho, earned a very popular podium finish in third.

       The exciting Open Mod brought 14 sleds to the final, and it was an all-star cast. Ski-Doo wunderkind Jay Mentaberry went first and ran the hill in a high-flying 1:21.45. Certainly that would be good enough to put him on the podium, right?

     Wrong. Andy Thomas ran the hill shortly thereafter in 1:21.39, 6/100th of a second faster. Surely that would hold up?

     Wrong again:  The red, white and blue Polaris guided by Justin Thomas diced through the haze in 1:16.81 to take the class. Clearly he was on his game on this day.

Runs For Snowmobile Hill Climb Royalty

If you win a class at a hillclimb race, you get to make a run at the end of the day to be the “king” of that division (Stock, Improved Stock and Mod). And then the folks crowned as kings of each division get to run against one another for the ultimate King of King titles. It’s been anticlimactic in some recent years, though, when Keith Curtis was the king of all three divisions. That wouldn’t be the case this year.

     After the six Stock class winners ran, their King was Keith Curtis. His time of 1:22.50 couldn’t be matched. The Improved Stock King was… Keith Curtis! This time his run up the increasingly rugged hill took 1:20.09, Now in year’s past, Curtis also won at least one Mod class, so he had a chance to go for a sweep. This year, though, he was shut out in the class for the most exotic classes.

     Meanwhile, Justin Thomas won two Mod classes, meaning he could make two runs at the Mod King title if he needed to. He didn’t. His first run of 122.93 was ahead after the other two competitor went, earning him the Mod title.

     All of this meant that Curtis would have two shots at the King of Kings title (one each for Stock and Improved Stock) and Thomas would have one for his Mod win.

     Curtis went first on his stock machine, and ripped up the hill with his best time of the day: 1:16.63. Only one competitor had a faster time on the day: Justin Thomas on his 900 Mod with a 1:15.53. Could he repeat it? The answer was yes – he roared up the hill, bouncing all over the snowmobile while keeping the skis mostly off the ground and finishing with a 1:15.15 – a new fast time.

     Curtis woud have one last shot at the title with his Improved Stock winning sled, but his last run up the hill would take 1:18.44. The title belonged to Thomas.    

     “I have no words, the last time I did this was in 2018 and it’s been a struggle getting back up here,” Thomas said when interviewed on the host Snow Devils online feed immediately after winning. “I’ve had a few incidents, I cut my face up pretty good last year. I just got refocused, got my head right and got back – and I actually had a daughter, Vivian. A lot changes in life but just keep moving forward and looking forward to the next one.”

2024 Jackson Hole World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb Results:

600 Stock: 1. Wes Selby (Doo); 2. Nate Suter (Doo); 3. Garth Kaufman (Doo).
700 Stock: 1. Taylor Lindy (Pol); 2. Dylan Hart (Pol); 3. Kyle Heap (Pol).
900 Stock: 1. Luke Rainey (Pol); 2. Blaine Matthews (Doo); 3. Jay Mentaberry (Doo).
1000 Stock: 1. Blaine Mathews (Doo); 2. Sam Peterson (Pol); 3. Jay Mentaberry (Doo).
Open Stock: 1. Keith Curtis (Pol); 2. Justin Thomas (Pol); 3. Mason Rutledge (Doo).
Stock King: Keith Curtis (Pol)
Pro Masters Stock: 1. Carl Kuster (Doo); 2. Trent Handsaker (Doo); 3. Brad Sharp (Doo).
600 Improved Stock: 1. Russ Tapio (Cat); 2. Wes Selby (Doo); 3. Tanner Thomas (Pol).
700 Improved Stock: 1. Dylan Hart (Pol); 2. Taylor Lindy (Pol); 3. Tanner Thomas (Pol).
900 Improved Stock: 1. Keith Curtis (Pol); 2. Brennan Mulvahill (Doo); 3. Kameron Lindsay (Cat).
1000 Improved Stock: 1. Brock Sharp (Doo); 2. Taylor Lindy (Pol); 3. Brennan Mulvahill (Doo). 
Pro Masters Improved Stock: 1. Trent Handsaker (Doo); 2. Kyle Tapio (Cat); 3. Carl Kuster (Doo).
Improved Stock King: Keith Curtis
600 Mod: 1. Justin Thomas (Pol); 2. Tanner Thomas (Pol); 3. Toby Shepherd (Pol).
700 Mod: 1. Riley Kincaid (Cat); 2. Toby Shepherd (Pol); 3. Calvin Irmen (Cat).
900 Mod: 1. Justin Thomas (Pol); 2. Andy Thomas (Pol); 3. Brock Sharp (Doo).
Open Mod: 1. Justin Thomas (Pol); 2. Toby Shepherd (Pol); 3. Andy Thomas (Pol).  
Pro Masters Mod: 1. Trent Handsaker (Doo); 2. Dolan Phelps (Pol); 3. Faron Gilbert (Doo).
Mod King: Justin Thomas
King Of King: Justin Thomas

Saturday Winners:
Juniors: 1. Marcus Boyd (Doo); 2. Chase Summers (Pol); 3. Mathew Baldwin (Doo).
Semi Pro Stock: 1. Jhett Johnson (Doo); 2. Austin Rogers (Doo); 3. Lucas Conger (Doo).
Semi Pro Improved: 1. Harper Handsaker (Doo); 2. Lucan Conger (Doo); 3. Austin Rogers (Doo).
Semi Pro Mod: 1. Jhett Johnson (Doo); 2. Kaden Rainey (Pol); 3. Lucan Conger (Doo).
Non Pro Masters: 1. Brett Jensen (Pol); 2. Michael Baldwin (Doo); 3. Dave Chizen (Doo).
Womens Stock: 1. Jadian Pfaff (Doo); 2. Brooke Long (Doo); 3. Sammi McKeachnie (Doo).
Womens Improved Stock: 1. Sammi McKeachnie (Doo); 2. Shelley Ferguson (Doo); 3. Hadley West (Pol).
Womens Mod: 1. Jadian Pfaff (Doo); 2. Sammi McKeachnie (Doo); 3. Brooke Long (Doo).
Amateurs: 1. Tyson Dales (Doo); 2. Landon Archibald (Pol); 3. Sean Meagher (Doo).
Vintage: 1. Blaine Mathews (Doo); 2. Justin Thomas (Pol); 3. Carl Kuster (Doo).

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