News broke on two different fronts Wednesday that two of snowmobile racing’s brightest stars are done for the 2013-14 season due to different reasons.
PJ Wanderscheid, the oval racing superstar and sport’s only four-time Eagle River World Champion, announced on his Facebook page that he won’t be racing this season due to a health situation within his family.
The driver of the No. 28 Arctic Cat has always driven for a close-knit, family-based team, centered out of the Wanderscheid family’s County Cat dealership in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Wanderscheid splashed onto the scene in 2002, with a stunning victory at the Eagle River World Championships for the then 18-year-old rookie in the Pro Champ 440 class. Proving it was no fluke, he won again in 2003. His third victory in 2006 tied Wanderscheid with the sport’s only two three-time champions — Dave Wahl and Jacques Villeneuve. That tie was broken in 2011, when PJ became the only four-timer in the now 50-year history of the event.
Meanwhile, news broke this afternoon on the Snox365 website that snocrosser Robbie Malinoski had overshot a jump in practice at Canterbury Park last Friday and injured his leg and knee. Further testing through Wednesday revealed a broken bone in his left left and ACL and MCL damage, according to the report.
Malinoski is one of the rare snocross racers who has competed on all four major brands of sleds over the years, including being the first driver to win a pro snocross race on the national scene on a four-stroke snowmobile and winning national series points championships in the old WPSA circuit. In recent years, he’s become the sport’s elder statesman and one of the most respected drivers, competing for the high-powered Scheuring Speed Sports team.
Speculation has already begun on whether the Scheuring crew will pull in a second driver to race out of its trailer in Malinoski’s place and become teammates with Tim Tremblay. With a first-class operation and major sponsorship backing from companies like Amsoil, Rockstar Energy, Ford Trucks and the U.S. Air Force, the seat with the team likely won’t be vacant long, but it may come down to finding a driver who’s not locked into a contract with another team.