Once again showcasing an impressive “the show must go on” mentality, organizers of the New York Shootout pulled together an abbreviated event on Sunday, December 12, featuring the first-runs of freshly uncrated model year 2022 snowmobiles from Arctic Cat and Ski-Doo.
Between weather challenges and the brutal reality that will forever make 2021 be remembered as the “Year Of The Supply Chain Debacles,” Heinrich Kirchner and the crew organizing the 32nd annual event certainly had their hands full. In the end, the event had to be moved to an alternative date, and only two of the four brands were represented on the track.
That said, there was still a lot to be learned at the Shootout, particularly in the turbo class – which featured the first running of Ski-Doo’s 900 ACE Turbo R engine on the dyno and on the drag strip against the Arctic Cat Thundercat with the turbocharged 998cc Yamaha engine.
Cat and Ski-Doo sleds also faced off in the 850/800 class as well as the 600 class. Plans were in place to have Polaris participate, but needed parts did not show up in time. Yamaha was not able to find a supporting dealer who had a Sidewinder SRX.
As per usual with the Shootout, caveats are necessary. The annual, much-celebrated event features box-stock, freshly uncrated machines. They are ridden back-to-back by a same professional driver on the same course, with two recorded runs each in “stock” and “dealer prep” form. In the latter form, dealers can adjust clutching and suspension only. While organizers take great efforts to make it fair and scientific, this is a snapshot in time, captured on one day with specific machines – other results may vary.
The Arctic Cat ZR 9000 Thundercat and Yamaha Sidewinder machines finally have some competition at the very top-end of the sport. Judging from the first run of the sleds behind the barn at Old Forge/Inlet as well as the all-important dyno run a few days earlier, that competition will be fierce all winter long.
It started with the dyno runs at Jim Czekala’s DynoTech Research. Czekala’s involvement with the Shootout goes way back, and his dyno pulls are typically considered among the most legit in the sport.
Czekala has spun the 998cc Yamaha triple found in the Thundercat many times in recent years, and it creates about 200 ponies even. This year’s unit was not tested, but the engine is unchanged for 2022.
New for 2022, though, is the Turbo R motor from Ski-Doo, which is found in the 2022 Mach Z that was brought to the Shootout. It spun up 193 horsepower.
However, the Mach Z weighed about 30 pounds less than the EPS-equipped Thundercat when the sleds were scaled in – the TCat weighed 645 pounds when carrying 4 gallons of fuel while the Mach Z was at 620 with 5 gallons. Knowing that gas weighs about 6.1 pounds per gallon, the difference is about 31 pounds.
After the sleds were studded with Woody’s traction products, they were brought to the track. However, due to track conditions (thanks to a big negative assist from Mother Nature, who previously laid down snow but then melted it all away on Saturday), the sleds were only run up to the 660 feet to allow for safe shut-down space.
In that space, in bone stock settings, the Thundercat got out of the hole the quickest, built a lead of about 0.14 seconds to the 330-foot mark and held that basic gap to the finish line. Its best run was 6.64 seconds compared to a 6.79-second run for the Mach Z. However, that Mach Z was going 93.75 mph at the finish line while the best Cat run peaked at 90.91 mph – who knows how this thing would have looked at 1,000 feet?
The sleds were then turned over to the dealers (Arctic Adventures and Cooks Recreation) for some prep work, and with a little massaging the Ski-Doo turned on the afterburners and left the Cat in its wake. Each sled featured a 15- by 137- by 1.25-inch track. (See chart)
It’s going to be an interesting winter, as consumers match up against their friends on laketops and firelanes.
With just two brands able to make machines available at the 2022 Shootout – and with those machines having different displacements in the 800/850 class – the results were somewhat anticlimactic. But still, buyers of sleds in the high-output two-stroke market are sure to gleam some interesting facts from the runs of the 2022 Arctic Cat ZR 8000 RR and 2022 Ski-Doo Renegade X 850 E-TEC.
The difference in displacement was noticeable on the DynoTech Research dyno, where the bigger Ski-Doo 850 logged 162 horsepower while last year’s spry Cat 800 turned 154. With no motor changes for 22, the Cat was not re-dynoed this year. The Renegade with 5 gallons in the fuel tank weighed 550 pounds, compared to 558 with 4 gallons in the ZR.
Next their tracks (each 15- by 137- by 1.25) were studded and the sleds were turned loose on the track. In both Box Stock and Dealer Prep form, the Cat launched a bit harder and recorded the quickest times to 60 feet, but then the Ski-Doo took over and ran away. Its best box stock run was a half-second faster to 1000 feet (9.43 compared to 9.91) than the ZR, and it was pulling away, judging from the recorded MPH. The times changed a bit after dealer prep – the Ski-Doo slowed a bit in changing conditions while the Cat shaved a tenth – but the end order was the same.
The same two brands next faced off in the 600 class, where for the first time displacements matched up. It pitted a 2022 Ski-Doo Renegade X 600R E-TEC against a 2022 Arctic Cat ZR 6000 LTD. Each was a 15- by 137- by 1.25-inch track. In weigh-in, with each carrying 5 gallons of fuel, the Renegade was 532 pounds while the ZR was 554. On the dyno, though, the Cat 600 engine was stronger – logging 127 ponies vs. the E-TEC’s 123.
On the drag strip, the Renegade was launching particular strong – including getting to 60 feet in its best box-stock run at a blistering 1.46 seconds, 500-feet in 6.16 seconds and to the 1,000-foot finish line in 10.27 seconds. That Cat broke through briefly at the 660 foot mark with a best-in-class 77.32 mph at that point.
After dealer prep and after the track conditions went away a bit, the Ski-Doo slowed rather substantially – it still beat the Cat, but it was by a very narrow margin of four one-hundredths at 1,000 feet (10.62 seconds compared to 10.66). That’s tight.
As per usual, the New York Shootout was rather regimented, as organizers try to narrow down all factors to make it as fair as possible. That said, it’s also a snapshot in time with individual snowmobiles that aren’t fully broken in.
All sleds were driven by local drag racing guru Matt Luke on the same track back-to-back. With rain and 50-degree weather on the original date of Saturday, December 11, the event was moved to Sunday, December 12. Conditions that day were 30 degrees and partly cloudy, with light winds from the west. The track was frozen at the start of the day but got looser as the day progressed.
The event was organized by Heinrich and Molly Kirschner, with help from Bill and Jennifer Stoddard, Dana Rouse and Jacqueline. The track used is owned by Chip and Cindy Sauer. The Town of Inlet also provided valuable support, as did Rocky Point Properties, traction sponsor Woody’s and DynoTech Research. There were several on-site local sponsors as well.
Dealer support and prep is also vital: The Ski-Doos were provided and prepped by Arctic Adventures from Rosendale, New York, while the Cats cat from Cooks Recreation in Tully, New York.
JJ Outlaw Photography captured the photography at the event.
Editor’s Note: 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.