The Pro Open field in snocross racing is getting some new blood this coming winter, as several rising young competitors have moved up from the Pro Lite ranks this year while at the same time a handful of Scandinavian racers are returning to North America to race.
All of these gentlemen will be chasing Tucker Hibbert, the winningest driver in all of snocross racing history who is showing no signs of slowing down, despite his advancing age.
To see the new rules and a full schedule of the upcoming season, click here. To sign up for and play the free, fun and easy Snow Goer Snowmobile Racing Challenge fantasy game, click here. Below, we’ll break down the Pro Open field.
There is a fair amount of change in the Pro Open class for 2015-16, but not much at the “top of the ticket,” as they might say in political circles, as last year’s Top 5 in Pro Open points all return, riding for the same teams and the same brands as last year.
At the top is Hibbert — the defending points champion, eight-time defending X Games gold medalist in snocross and winner of 108 national pro events, more than anybody in history. He turned 31 over the summer, but anybody who has been expecting him to slow down is clearly misguided, based on last season’s events when he won 13 of 17 Pro Open finals and the X Games going away. He was beyond dominant. The racer from Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, returns to his factory Arctic Cat team on No. 68.
Quebec racer Tim Tremblay ran second in points last year on his No. 11 Scheuring Speed Sports Ski-Doo, coming off a tough injury from the year before, and returns on the same ride in 2015-16. He is consistent, strong, determined and is ready to pounce whenever Hibbert makes a mistake. He won one of the four of the four finals Hibbert didn’t take last year, Tremblay’s coming at Mount Pleasant, Michigan. Tremblay’s 29th birthday is Nov. 11.
Kyle Pallin from Michigan returns on his No. 324 Team LaVallee Polaris after finishing a surprising third in points last year. He had a big victory last year at Friday night Canterbury Park race in Shakopee, Minnesota, and took advantage of some injuries from fellow Polaris racers to move up in the points standings. At age 24, he is the youngest racer to finish in the Top 3.
Veteran Ross Martin, 31, of Wisconsin, has historically been Hibbert’s biggest challenge since the retirement of Blair Morgan. He has 31 career victories, third most behind only Hibbert and Morgan. He started slowly last season but then came on strong at mid-season and grabbed the checkered flag ahead of Hibbert at the Saturday night Canterbury Park event last year. He returns on his No. 837 Judnick Motorsports Polaris, on which he finished fourth last year.
Rounding out last year’s Top 5 in points was Arctic Cat racer Logan Christian, age 23, of Fertile, Minnesota. Like Pallin, he is a young racer with a lot of upside and a growing fan base, and few people train harder. Plus, his Christian Bros Racing team backs down to nobody.
Missing from that Top 5 in points, but certainly a Top 5 racer, is Kody Kamm of Wisconsin. He is now just 21 years old but entering his third Pro Open season. He is young, aggressive and super fast, and most people are expecting big things from him long-term, once he settles down a little bit. Injury caused him to miss four of the 17 races last year, but he still finished 9th in points on his No. 53 Hentges Racing Polaris. He won last year’s Friday night event at Deadwood, South Dakota.
The Changes, Newcomers Or Others
Beyond those six, there is a real mix of newcomers, European racers, returning veteran and potential new challengers.
Moving up from the Pro Lite ranks to Pro Open will be last year’s defending Pro Lite points champion — Ryan Springer — along with his teammate at Carlson Racing, third-place Pro-Lite points racer Andrew Carlson, both of Minnesota. Joining them in moving up will be Trevor Leighton, who finished fifth in Pro Lite points on his Leighton Motorsports entry. All three ride for Polaris, as does Corin Todd, Trevor Leighton’s teammate at Leighton Racing who was impressive at times last year in his rookie Pro Open season. He’s an interesting returning sophomore.
The other Polaris racer on of note on one of the formal teams is Petter Narsa, who joins Kamm this year in the Hentges Racing trailer. The Swedish champ raced part of the 2013 season and all of the 2014 seasons on the ISOC circuit and had a handful of podiums. Last year he stayed home in Sweden and captured his third Senior Snowcross title. Meanwhile, Andy Lieders, who last year raced for Team LaVallee, has posted on social media that he will be racing out of his own trailer for the 2015-16 season after failing to land a ride with one of the main teams. He also posted photos of his Polaris race sled.
Arctic Cat has a bigger team in 2015-16, thanks to two teams supporting their first Pro Open efforts. Jess Racing has added Jake Scott — found in recent years on the Team LaVallee equipment — to run a full ISOC season this year, while Justin Broberg moved over to McGuire Racing after running for Hentges Polaris the last couple of years. Broberg will have a part-time teammate in Pro Open at McGuire, as Bret Turcotte is scheduled to run a partial schedule.
David Joanis returns as Logan Christian’s teammate at Christian Brothers Racing, and Zach Pattyn is back for more in Pro Open for Stud Boy Racing.
Ski-Doo has a few interesting changes and some returning racers on his various teams. At Scheuring Speed Sports, Lincoln Lemieux returns from injury as Tremblay’s teammate. Beyond that, it’s a bunch of Scandinavians leading the way for Team Yellow, with Adam Renheim at Boss Racing and John Stenberg at Warnert Racing racing a full schedule. The popular Johan Lidman is also expected to race for Warnert Racing, joining the team at mid-season after recovering from off-season injuries.
Regular followers of the ISOC snocorss racing action may notice a couple of names that are missing, including some rather credible racers who are either still looking for a full-time ride or may have other circumstances.
From Arctic Cat, Cody Thomsen’s status appears to be up in the air — he doesn’t have a ride for this season that we’ve heard about, but he could be the first-call for a race team if or when an injury occurs to one of the current stars. Another former Arctic Cat racer appears to have hung up his TekVest — Mike Bauer is listed as the new mechanic for Jake Scott’s efforts at Jess Racing.
The aforementioned Andy Lieders is the lone former Polaris racer without a formal ride, though as mentioned he is coming in as a privateer. Much like Thomsen, he could be a great mid-season pickup for a team in need.
Former Ski-Doo racers Darrin Mees and Colby Crapo don’t have rides lined up for the ISOC circuit this year. We have no word on Mees (but feel free to reply in the comments section below is you know!); Crapo has landed a job racing on the CSRA circuit in Canada for OTSFF/Huber Racing.