COVID be damned, the shootout must go on! With that sort of mindset, the organizers of the annual New York Shoot-Out (a.k.a. the old/traditional AmSnow Shootout in the Old Forge area) held the season’s traditional first shootout and dyno test of the new iron again this year. Though no crowd was in attendance, the action was still intense and the results are still highly coveted.
This would be the first place a Polaris 650 Patriot engine would be dyno’d and then tested in its new Matryx setup. It would also be the place to find out how the 600-, 800- and turbocharged engines from Arctic Cat, Polaris and Ski-Doo would perform. No Yamaha dealer chose to participate in the event this year.
Let’s cover some details, and then get to the results.
This year, due to the COVID-19 related restrictions, the Shootout was held outside of the Old Forge/Inlet area with no spectators, and it was focused on stock snowmobiles this year with no aftermarket sleds due to the COVID situation and its restrictions on out-of-state travel.
To create the best, most repeatable runs possible, organizer Heinrich Kirschner moved the event to a track he knows well – the Seneca Falls Super Track in Seneca Falls, New York, one of the premier grass drag tracks in the country and the site of many world record grass drag runs. On the track, the sleds started on a packed clay areas before transitioning to grass.
The Shoot-Out was held on a cloudy Saturday, December 12, which started in the high 30s and ended in the high 40s, with a somewhat wet track early due to melting frost when the original, box stock runs were made, and then a drier track for dealer prep runs.
All sleds were run by the same driver – noted drag racer Matt Luke of Cicero, New York, and elapsed times were recorded at 60, 330, 500, 660 and 1000 feet, with mile per hour also recorded at 500, 660 and 1000 feet. Two passes were made on each sled in “box stock” form and then, later, two more runs in “dealer prep” form – meaning, after participating dealers made clutching and suspension adjustments.
Prior to their runs, sleds were dynoed at Dyno Tech Research – a longtime partner in the Shoot-Out –and their tracks were studded with Woody’s traction products, with 3 studs per bar on 600-650-class sleds and 4 studs per bar for all other sleds.
Participating dealers were Arctic Adventures in Rosendale, New York, which supplied the Ski-Doo and Arctic Cat models, and Kubecka Polaris in Mohawk, New York, which supplied the Polaris sleds.
All of this, of course, is not possible without the aforementioned partners and other vendors, so a huge thanks to Dyno-Tech Research, Woody’s, Arctic Adventure, Kubecka Polaris, the Town of Inlet and JJ Outlaw Photography, which visually recorded the event.
On a personal note, one of the sleds – the 2021 Ski-Doo Renegade X 600R – was dedicated to the family of Arctic Adventures’ owner Tom Ferry, who has a loved one fighting a tough battle with cancer. We send out our prayers, and an admiration for the positively that they have vowed to keep.
The middleweights this year consisted of one new engine and two returning powerplants. New was the 650 Patriot twin found in the 2021 Polaris 650 Indy Launch Edition 137 snowmobile in the also new Matryx chassis. The Ski-Doo in the class was the 2021 Ski-Doo Renegade X 600R, while the Arctic Cat was a ZR 6000 R XC, the brand’s cross-country racer. The Cat had a 129-inch track with 1.25-inch lugs while the Ski-Doo and Polaris ran 137-inchers – the Ski-Doo with 1.25-inch lugs and the Polaris with 1.352 inchers.
In the dyno testing, the Polaris showed off its displacement advantage by recording 132 hp on Jim Czekala’s Dyno-Tech equipment vs. 123 on the Ski-Doo, while the Cat was not tested. The Polaris then backed up that number on the track and won the class in both “box stock” and “dealer prep” form.
In box stock form, the Ski-Doo launched the hardest in both of its runs, winning the race to the 60 foot mark, but after that the Polaris took over and ran away – getting to the 1000 foot mark .45 seconds faster than the Ski-Doo and 1.18 second faster than the Arctic Cat (see chart below). The Ski-Doo matched it in terms of speed on the big end, however.
Once the dealers got a chance to put their stamp on the machines, the Polaris launched particularly hard on its first run, getting to the 60-foot mark in a blazing 1.38 seconds and hitting each benchmark the fastest – including covering the 1,000 feet in 9.96 seconds. That said, the drier track and the clutching changes resulted in a slower ET and notably slower speed than it recorded when cracked out of the crate.
The Ski-Doo was also a bit slower than its box stock run, though it was ripping in mid-range, and recorded the fastest speed at 660 feet. The Arctic Cat, meanwhile, got notably better, trimming an amazing half-second off its ET and ripping through the 1000 foot speed track the fastest.
Because there was only one 650cc snowmobile, the “class” per se was a little bit hard to fence in. With that in mind, Shoot-Out organizers had a “600 Class” which was dominated by the Ski-Doo, which earned top prize for box stock ET and MPH plus dealer prep ET, while the Cat won dealer prep MPH and the Polaris, technically, was in a class by itself.
The Big-Iron Two Stroke Class
The big displacement class this year consisted of three carryover engines but one new chassis. The Arctic Cat was a 2021 ZR 8000 RR in the ProCross chassis; the Polaris was a 2021 850 Indy VR1 137 in the new Matryx platform; and the Ski-Doo was a Renegade X 850 E-TEC in the REV Gen4. All ran 137-inch tracks – the Cat and Ski-Doo each had 1.25-inch lugs while the Polaris had a 1.352-inch setup.
In the dyno testing, the Polaris put up the biggest number – 167 ponies compared to 162 for the Ski-Doo, with the displacement-disadvantaged Cat logging in at 154 hp. On the track, though, the Ski-Doo was the clear star.
In box stock form, the Renegade 850 launched particularly hard on its second run, getting to the 60-foot mark at 1.37 seconds and to 330 feet in 4.20 seconds en route to a great 9.24-second run. Its only competition was its own other run, when it crested 100 mph at the 1000 foot mark.
The Polaris stayed within roughly a tenth of a second until the big end, and ended up trailing the Ski-Doo by .29 seconds at 1000 feet. The Cat launched well but fell behind a half-second back in mid-range and lost to the Ski-Doo by .8 seconds overall.
Once the dealers got their mitts on the sleds and simultaneously the track dried out, the times changed but the running order stayed the same. The Renegade this time launched off the line at 1.33 seconds at 60 feet and 4.1 seconds to 330 en route to a best-in-class 9.15-second ET at 1,000 feet.
The Polaris stayed closer throughout and even showed the most speed at 500 feet, but lost some again on the top end and finished .16 seconds behind. The Cat, meanwhile, showed the most improvement with dealer help, shaving almost .37 seconds and gaining speed, too.
The Turbo class included two sleds this year – an Arctic Cat ZR 9000 Thundercat and a Ski-Doo Renegade 900 ACE Turbo. They are marketed to different classes of riders and fall in different power categories, so this isn’t exactly a fair fight, but it’s interesting to see the numbers for their own merit.
Both had 137-inch tracks with 1.25-inch lugs. On the Dyno-Tech dyno, the lake-racer oriented Thundercat spun up an even 200 hp, while the trail cruiser Renegade 900 ACE Turbo logged 160 – putting it more in line with the 800-850 class.
Other than its great speed, the most amazing thing about the Thundercat was its consistency. Its two box stock runs fell right on top of each other – with exactly the same speeds at 660 and 1000 feet and a total run time varying by just .03 seconds! In dealer setup form, the difference was .01.
Not surprisingly, the most powerful sled here put up the lowest ET at 8.87 seconds and the highest speed at 102.73 mph.
The turbocharged, four-stroke Renegade, meanwhile, would have done very well in the 800-850 class, with its 9.35 ET in box stock form ant 9.47 in dealer prep.
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.