USSA Locks In On Pro Champ Racing For 4 More Seasons

Blaine Stephenson
Defending USSA ProStar champion Blaine Stephenson on a Pro Champ sled. Photo by Darryl Gerschman.

The United States Snowmobile Association (USSA) has doubled down on its choice for the premier class of ice oval sprint racing, announcing today that the Pro Champ class would be its star attraction for at least four more seasons.

     For supporters of the highly modified Pro Champ class, the move is a much-desired dose of stability. Knowing that race teams can build to a stable set of rules makes it easier to attract new race teams and keep older ones. Typically, in any form of motorsport, folks are reticent to spend a bunch of money in a class that may become obsolete in a year or two. Today’s announcement locks-in Pro Champ and its 440-class engines through the winter of 2025-26.

     At the same time, the news is a bit of a slap to those who have been hoping that the more stock-based Formula III class will emerge as ice oval’s premier class. At one point in 2019, the ice oval community seemed to be getting united behind the creation of Formula III and its planned emergence as the primary class where the Eagle River World Champion and national points title would be crowned, but differences were also aired. The Eagle River event and its prized World Championship title moved to the new Formula III class last year, the USSA not only stayed with Pro Champ for the points chase but in fact has further invested in it.

     That leaves some racers and race teams split between building (and having to finance) two different sleds to compete for both titles, or having to choose one or the other.

Jay Mittelstaedt
Defending Eagle River World Champion Jay Mittelstaedt on a Formula III snowmobile.

     Those in favor of keeping the popular Pro Champ 440 as the primary class cite the exciting action produced by the loud, low-slung sleds and their chassis that are custom-built for ice oval racing, and the fact that there is currently a natural feeder system with the Pro Lite division. Those in favor of Formula III most often cite the need to try to attract the snowmobile factories (plus their checkbooks) as well as efforts to lure-in people new to ice ovals racing with more modern-looking machines with currently available engines instead of the dated 440cc designs from 15-plus years ago.  

      We’ll leave that debate to others for now: Here’s today’s press release from the USSA group.

UUSA ProStar Series Press Release: July 13, 2022, Premier Class Update

In April of 2019, the USSA Board of Directors issued a press release stating, “With numbers continuing to grow in the Pro Champ 440 class, the USSA ProStar Series will continue to shine the spotlight on the Pro Champ division through the 2022-2023 season. Being committed to the teams and talent working hard to succeed in the Pro Champ 440 class, the USSA ProStar Series premier event, the ProStar Cup Tour, will also remain a Pro Champ 440 class for the next two seasons.”

Over the past two race seasons, the USSA ProStar Series has closely monitored this class and has continued to see strong numbers in the Pro Champ and Pro Lite divisions. The information gathered during this off season has led members of the USSA Board of Directors to remain confident in the strength and growth of the Pro Champ 440 class into the foreseeable future. With recent USSA ProStar events exceeding 20 entries in the Pro Champ class, there are statistical reasons to continue to support Pro Champ racing. 

With today’s release, the USSA ProStar Series and the ProStar Cup Tour are excited and honored to renew and extend our commitment to the Pro Champ 440 class as the premier class through a minimum of the 2025-2026 race season. With many reasons to believe the Pro Champ 440 class has longevity as far as 2030, the commitment through the 2025-2026 season was an easy decision.

The new, soon to be released, race day format for the ProStar Series will place a strong emphasis on the Pro Champ and pro lite class. The ProStar Cup Tour will also bring exciting racing action across North America with the Pro Champ 440 class as its premier class. In addition, the USSA ProStar Series continues to work on the Junior I and Junior II sprint classes as future development for drivers headed into the Pro Champ class.    

Last season’s ProStar Cup Tour championship was decided by less than five points making every heat race, every final, and every venue an important step in the season long Tour. With early season commitments from the majority of the top 10 racers to return, the 2022-2023 season looks even more competitive than last year. Stay tuned for more information on the USSA ProStar Series and the ProStar Cup Tour.

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