After Elias Ishoel wrapped up his fourth consecutive points championship on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross series in March, an intense debate was initiated among Snow Goer family and friends about where this young racer fits among the greatest to ever participate in the “modern” form of snocross racing – meaning the deep-snow, big bumps sort of racing that the sport evolved into in the early 1990s.
That discussion blossomed into this: The Top 10 Snocross Racers Of All Time list. It was created after polling many top snocross industry “insiders” including select race circuit officials, factory race directors, major team owners, media personnel, aftermarket industry leaders and others who were involved very directly in the sport over the past 30 years. We combined their input with an intense review of past race results and points standings to finalize our rankings. In addition, we also created an online poll and let fans create their own list. Read about No. 5 on our list below, then check out the write-ups on n No. 10 Dennis “DJ” Eckstrom, No. 9 Kirk Hibbert, No. 8 Chris Vincent , No. 7 Robbie Malinoski and No. 6 Tim Tremblay by clicking on their names. Also, make sure to check back to see the rest of the list as it is unveiled over the next week.
No. 5: Ross Martin
Often jokingly referred to as “the Phil Mickelson of snocross,” Ross Martin had a storied career that likely would have been more fondly remembered had he not been up against Tucker Hibbert’s glory years – not unlike golfer Phil Mickelson playing his best years when Tiger Woods was seemingly unbeatable.
Ross, though, had far more victories that Mickelson. When the No. 837 Judnick Motorsports Polaris was on the track, it was regularly pushing toward the front. The numbers don’t lie: he earned his spot in the Top 5.
SNOCROSS CLAIM TO FAME: Ross Martin became one-to-watch when in the Semi-Pro division, where he dominated and collected many race wins and season points championships. In fact, the Burlington, Wisconsin, native wrapped up the 2004-05 Semi-Pro Open points title before the final round of racing, so he jumped up to the Pro class for the final day of the season at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin – and won against all of the top riders.
In his rookie season as a Pro, he collected four wins and had more podiums (nine) than any other racer, finishing the season second in points in both Pro Open and Pro Stock. He won the Pro Open points championship the following two years (2007 and 2008) and again in 2010, and then finished second in Pro points in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Injuries derailed some following seasons, but overall Martin accumulated 34 Pro victories, 98 Pro podiums and 5 X Games medals – three silvers and two bronze.
With one round of racing left in the 2016-17 season, Martin announced his retirement from snocross racing on a Sunday morning back at Lake Geneva, where his Pro career originally started in March of 2005.
MOMENT IN TIME: Tucker Hibbert was on another one of his streaks where he looked unbeatable, and he had built his all-time wins total to 99, with the high-profile 2015 Canterbury Snocross on the horizon. Special ceremonies were being prepared for when the man known at “the T-Train” would hit triple digits.
Apparently, nobody told Ross Martin. On a bone-chilling night in front of a huge crowd (with most of them huddled inside looking through the horse racing track’s windows), Martin fought through early traffic, grabbed hold of the lead and fought off late challenges from Hibbert to earn a big victory for himself. You can read the write up of that race here.
BALLOTING: Ross Martin was rated as high and third on a couple of ballots and was listed as a top-10 racer on all but three ballots among our “expert” or insider panel. In the fan voting, he was rated sixth overall.
CATCHING UP WITH ROSS: Martin has kept a rather low profile since retiring in 2017. We’re told he’s managing apartment buildings that he owns. Below is an interview he did in 2013 at the ISOC race circuit booth at the Haydays Grass Drags.
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