With fresh snow in the Upper Midwest and the arrival of cold weather allowing several different sites in Minnesota making their own snow on top of that, snocross racing teams are moving from their pre-season machine prep and training phase into on-track testing as they prepare for the season-opening snocross race on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Series in Duluth, Minnesota, November 28-30.
As a part of our of our own prep, we spoke with some race team managers this week to get the inside scoop on where their race teams sit, and who is expected to compete at Duluth.
Over at Ski-Doo, they return with three “super teams” that includes Tim Tremblay and Lincoln Lemiuex running out of Steve Schuering’s trailer, Johan Lidman and John Stenberg competing for Warnert Racing and Darin Mees, Adam Renheim and Colby Crapo competing for Boss Racing. At Duluth, expect to see East Coast Snocross regulars Mathieu Morin and Danny Poirier make an appearance, along with a new Norwegian racer to keep an eye on — Stale Engen. He’s going to be racing for Bailey Motorsports out of Ontario this year, according to Ski-Doo Race Coordinator Tom Lawrence.
Lawrence said his team of racers is looking rather healthy going into the 2014-15 season as well, with one exception: Lidman reinjured his knee this past summer on a dirt bike as, if this was the National Football League, would be listed as “questionable” on the injury report going into the season-opening rounds. That brand has an intriguing race seminar scheduled for Saturday, November 22, at Quadna Park in Hill City, Minnesota, that should give racers and their teams not just the usual technical tips for machine setup but also on-track time and critiques.
Over at Polaris, Race Team Manager Tom Rager Jr. said his Pro Open racers are going into this season about as healthy as he can ever remember. Any injuries suffered last season by top Pros have long ago heeled, and there’s not the usual list of off-season nick, scrapes or broken bones by racers hurting themselves on dirt bikes either training or racing.
The Polaris Pro Open lineup returns largely in tact, with Ross Martin and Kody Kamm highlighting a deep crew. Levi LaVallee may have retired, but his two young racers Kyle Pallin and Jake Scott both showed amazing strength at times last year, and this year they will be joined in Pro Open by teammate Andy Lieders, a former Pro Lite champion. Also moving up from Pro Lite will be the defending champ, Corin Todd. Justin Broberg will be back chasing podiums. Also, at Duluth, expect to strong performances by two Ontario-based racers, Iain Hayden and Dylan Hall, before they return to Canada to focus on the CSRA circuit.
Rager said his major race teams will be using the ERX Motorsports Park in Elk River, Minnesota, for on-snow testing starting tomorrow, Saturday, November 15.
Team Arctic must be out testing, because they haven’t returned our calls leading up to this post, though we realize this is a VERY busy time of year for all involved. We did talk to Mister Tucker Hibbert last week and he reported being in good shape heading into the season. He said that he and his team had not yet been on the snow this season, and that was unusual for them leading into the first weekend of November. We’re guessing this week’s cold and snow has changed all of that.
Other Arctic Cat Pro Open regulars who have signed up for Duluth through the ISOC race circuit include team racer Cody Thomsen, Christian Bros. Racing’s Logan Christian and David Joanis, plus Mike Bauer who has been focusing on East Coast Snocross in recent years and Lee Butler, a CSRA regular. Zach Pattyn is also signed up and will be running Arctic Cats this year — he raced on the brand earlier in his career by the Stud Boy Racing team has been on Ski-Doo more recently.
The Snow Goer Snowmobile Racing Challenge game will be up and running within the next week, so check back and join in the fun with your own predictions going into the season.