Wyoming racer Luke Rainey was the big winner at the 2018 World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last weekend, earning three class victories and two King Of The Hill titles at the sport’s most celebrated hill climb event. Justin Thomas was the other big winner on the day, as he claimed two individual class titles, the Pro Mod King and finished with the King Of Kings run in which he edged Rainey, who got two attempts at the hill.
Overall, Polaris racers swept the Pro Stock classes and earned 14 of the 19 Pro titles overall, with Cat racers earning three titles and Ski-Doo two. Work in the Women’s, Juniors, Semi-Pro and Amateur classes, and the total titles at the event equaled Polaris 19, Ski-Doo 7 and Arctic Cat 4. The event attracted entries from racers representing 11 states and two Canadian provinces, and fans from even further. On the race course, it’s all about the competition, but among the fans it’s often a spring break atmosphere.
Here’s a quick rundown of who did what at this high-profile event, being held for the 42nd year in the fabulous resort town of Jackson.
Dressed in an all-blue Klim one-piece aboard a fleet of multi-colored Polaris sleds, the 31-year-old competitor earned victories in the 700 Stock and 1000 Stock classes by relatively large margins (3 seconds faster than second-place Andy Thomas in 700 and 5 seconds faster than Justin Thomas in 1000) before earning the Stock King title at the end of the day.
In that Stock King run, he narrowly edged the other big winner in Stock class racing – fellow Polaris rider Keith Curtis, who was fastest up the gated course on Exhibition Run in 600 Stock and 900 Stock. In fact, Rainey finished second to Curtis by 3 seconds in that 900 Stock class. But when the two drivers returned on the same 800cc Polaris sleds for the King title, it was Rainey who reigned supreme, running the rugged course in 1:07.07 vs. Curtis’ 1:08.75. Another Polaris racer, Cole Wilford, won the Pro Masters Stock class and finished third in the King run.
600 Stock: 1. Keith Curtis (Pol); 2. Tanner Meyers (Pol); 3. Brand Titensor (Pol)
700 Stock: 1. Luke Rainey (Pol); 2. Andy Thomas (Pol); 3. Brandon Titensor (Pol)
900 Stock: 1. Keith Curtis (Pol); 2. Luke Rainey (Pol); 3. Blaine Mathews (Doo)
1000 Stock: 1. Luke Rainey (Pol); 2. Justin Thomas (Pol); 3. Blaine Mathews (Doo)
Pro Masters Stock: 1. Cole Wilford (Pol); 2. Trent Handsaker (Doo); 3. Tom Roby (Doo)
Stock King: 1. Luke Rainey (Pol); 2. Keith Curtis (Pol); 3. Cole Wilford (Pol)
There were five winners in the five different Improved Stock classes at Jackson this year, and they represented all three brands that regularly compete on the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association (RMSHA) circuit, but Rainey wrapped it up with another King title.
Black Cat racer David McClure of Swan Valley, Idaho, edged out Dolan Phelps by .88 seconds in 600 Improved Stock, while fellow Cat racer Jeremy Archibald stopped a McClure sweep of the lower-displacement improved classes by running the course in 1:17.16 vs. second-place McClure’s 1:19:90.
Polaris’ Rainey returned to the top spot in 900 Improved by a 2.7-second margin over Erin Beukelman, who was just .11 seconds faster than third place Blaine Mathews. Both of them finished behind Justin Thomas and Jay Mantaberry in 1000 Improved, with Thomas earning the title on his Polaris. Legendary Carl Kuster of British Columbia grabbed the Pro Masters Improved title on a Ski-Doo in a class in which only he and second place Tom Roby made it over the top.
For the Improved King title, Rainey aced the hill in a blistering 1:05.79, with Thoas second at 1:09:22 and Kuster logging in third at 1:10.82.
600 Improved Stock: 1. David McClure (Cat); 2. Dolan Phelps (Pol); 3. Brandon Titensor (Pol)
700 Improved Stock: 1. Jeremy Archibald (Cat); 2. David McClure (Cat); 3. Tanner Meyers (Pol)
900 Improved Stock: 1. Luke Rainey (Pol); 2. Erin Beukelman (Pol); 3. Blaine Mathews (Doo)
1000 Improved Stock: 1. Justin Thomas (Pol); 2. Jay Mantaberry (Doo); 3. Luke Rainey (Pol)
Pro Masters Improved Stock: 1. Carl Kuster (Doo); 2. Tom Roby (Doo); 3. Cole Wilford (Pol)
Improved Stock King: 1. Luke Rainey (Pol); 2. Justin Thomas (Pol); 3. Carl Kuster (Doo)
Running The Big, Boosted Dogs
The Mod classes are always an attraction with motorheads are gathered, and that was certainly the case at Jackson again this year. Bystanders got to see one turbo-charged sled after another attack the hill. Although he didn’t win the 1000 Mod class, the badass in this class proved to be Justin Thomas of Idaho Falls, who claimed the King title with the day’s fastest run.
First, though, Andy Thomas of Ammon, Idaho, won the 600 Mod on a Polaris ahead of Ski-Doo’s Scott Thompson, while 700 Mod was earned by Erin Beukelman on the No. 13X Polaris ahead of Thompson. Justin Thomas, 22, earned his way into the King competition with a rapid and rugged 1:02.14 run in 900 Mod ahead of Keith Curtis and Beukelman.
Twenty-three-year-old Jay Mentaberry of Alpine, Wyoming, put his Summit over the top the fastest in Open Mod with a 1:01:98 run and went into the Mod King competition as the man to beat. But in that roun, Justin Thomas blazed a path over rocks, berms, stumps and anything else in his way in 1:00.63 and earned the title. Tony Zollinger, meanwhile, won Pro Masters Mod on a Cat.
Luke Rainey’s double-up as Stock and Improved King gave him two runs in the King of Kings event, but Justin Thomas had the horsepower advantage and it showed – his title run was 1:01:02 vs. Rainey’s two runs of 1:04.88 and 1:05:98.
600 Mod: 1. Andy Thomas (Pol); 2. Scott Thompson (Doo); 3. Aaron Capener (Cat)
700 Mod: 1. Erin Beukelman (Pol); 2. Scott Thompson (Doo); 3. Les Keller (Pol)
900 Mod: 1. Justin Thomas (Pol); 2. Keith Curtis (Pol); 3. Erin Beukelman (Pol)
Open Mod: 1. Jay Mantaberry (Doo); 2. Spanky Mathews (Doo); 3. Kyle Tapio (Cat)
Pro Masters Mod: 1. Tony Zollinger (Cat); 2. Cole Wilford (Pol); 3. Mark Thompson (Doo)
Mod King: 1. Justin Thomas (Pol); 2. Andy Thomas (Pol); 3. Erin Beukleman (Pol)
King Of Kings: 1. Justin Thomas (Pol); 2. Luke Rainey (Pol); 3. Luke Rainey (Pol)
Women, Semi-Pro And Others
Hometowner Jadian Pfaff of Jackson, Wyoming, was the fastest girl in town over the weekend – she won Women’s Improved Stock and Women’s Mod on her Ski-Doos before cementing the title with the Semi-Pro Queen title. In all of the Women’s finals, she was also the only one to make it to the finish line and record a time – all of her competitors were scored by their highmark.
Cole Thomas of Afton, Wyoming, earned the Juniors title, while Rob Kirsch of McCall, Idaho, was the Non Pro Masters victor. BC native Matt McCray won Semi-Pro Stock and Semi-Pro Mod, but he finished second to Montana’s Sam Peterson in both Semi-Pro Improved and the Semi-Pro King competition. Both were aboard Polaris sleds.
Juniors: 1. Cole Thomas (Pol); 2. Connor Olstad (Doo); 3. Austin Rogers (Doo)
Non Pro Masters: 1. Rob Kirsch (Cat); 2. Geoff Rogers (Doo); 3. Ken Nosich (Doo)
Amateurs: 1. Ennis Patton (Doo); 2. Tony Jenkins (Doo); 3. Martin McLopi (Doo)
Semi-Pro Stock: 1. Matt McCray (Pol); 2. Colton Olstad (Doo); 3. Colten Taylor (Pol)
Semi-Pro Improved Stock: 1. Sam Peterson (Pol); 2. Matt McCray (Pol); 3. Hunter Johnson (Doo)
Semi-Pro Mod: 1. Matt McCray (Pol); 2. Gage Peterson (Cat); 3. Colton McCallum (Pol)
Semi-Pro King: 1. Sam Peterson (Pol); 2. Matt McCray (Pol); 3. Matt McCray (Pol)
Women’s Stock: 1. Chrystal Cooper (Doo)’; 2. Shelly Balls (Pol); 3. Taylor Peck (Pol)
Women’s Improved Stock: 1. Jadian Pfaff (Doo); 2. Shelly Balls (Pol); 3. Samantha Rogers (Doo)
Women’s Mod: 1. Jadian Pfaff (Doo); 2. Shelly Balls (Pol); 3. Taylor Meyers (Pol)
Semi-Pro Queen: 1. Jadian Pfaff (Doo); 2. Chrystal Cooper (Doo)