Who To Watch: Snocross Preview For The 2023 Racing Season

pro snocross podum canterbury 2022
The Pro Podium on night two at Canterbury Park in 2022: Winner Elias Ishoel (center), flanked by second-place Emil Harr (left) and third-place Adam Peterson (right). Photo from ISOC race circuit.

A new snowmobile snocross season is beginning, with new race sites, new race sleds and new intrigue. Yet the international cast of characters who will be fighting for the points title on the ISOC Amsoil Championship Snocross circuit is quite familiar to those who have been following the sport in recent years.

       But maybe you’re a more passive fan who is just getting back into following the sport after the retirement of Tucker Hibbert … or maybe you haven’t watched since the retirement of Toni Haikonen? Or maybe the return of Petter Narsa has your head on a swivel? Either way, here’s a look at the Pro class field for the 2022-23 race season.

Use the information however you want – including potentially joining the Fantasy Snowmobile Racing Challenge game right here on SnowGoer.com. It’s easy to play, completely free and quite fun. All you have to do is use pull-down windows to predict a final finish order, and you collect points based on how your selected racers actually finish. The season schedule can be found here.

                Now, to the pro field (below). To see a Who To Watch story on the oval Pro Champ class, click here.

The Top Snocross Dogs

Elias Ishoel, No. 200 Ski-Doo – The 24-year-old Norwegian is the four-time defending champion and the clear favorite going into the 2022-23 race season. He is back with Thene Racing for a second year after winning the previous three titles for Boss Racing. Ishoel tallied 9 wins in 16 rounds last year, and won 20 of 28 finals the previous two years combined.

Hunter Patenaude, No. 8 Ski-Doo – The Vermont native is also 24 and has been “on the rise” for several years. In his first year as a pro in the 2021 race season, he finished fourth in points. Last year? Second. There’s only one more rung on the ladder left for the tall Scheuring Speed Sports driver to climb. He only notched one victory last year (at Elk River) but he was a podium-earning dynamo, including finishing second on five different Saturdays.   

Francis Pelletier, No. 220 Ski-Doo – Not unlike Ishoel, this French-Canadian racer was viewed as fast but maybe a bit wreckless as a young up-and-comer, but he has matured into the consummate pro under the leadership of Warnert Racing. The holeshot nailing king from Quebec was second in points as a rookie in 2021, and third last year after finishing just four points behind Patenaude. He earned four total victories last year – the only driver not named Ishoel to have more than one Pro victory.  

Kody Kamm, No. 53 Polaris – This past points champion (2017) from Wisconsin had a down year last year in finals, but seemed to mop up a lot of heat race points en route to a fifth place finish in final points, just one point shy of fourth-place Emil Harr. Now 29, if Kamm’s going to rise again in this young man’s sport he’d better act now. He had just two trips to the podium last year. He’s back with Hentges Racing.

Daniel Benham Jr., No. 221 Arctic Cat – Cat’s best shot at breaking through the Ski-Doo lagerhead at the top rests with this Deer River, Minnesota, native. Racing for a second year with the upstart All Finish Concrete team, he’ll look to start the season strong with a followup on last year’s breakthrough victory at Fargo. He had three trips to the podium last year.

Rising Through The Ranks

Emil Harr, No. 31 Polaris – The 22-year-old Swede started strong last year with a third and two seconds in the first three rounds on his Judnick Motorsports ride, but then seemed to slip into the pack before scoring a defining victory in early March in Deadwood. That kicked off a string of strong finishes which led to a fourth-place overall position in points. He also finished fifth in points in 2021. If he can maintain his composure and stay away from on-track contact with other riders he could be somebody to watch in 2023.

Adam Peterson, No. 3 Polaris – In his rookie season as a Pro, this former Pro Lite champion from Wisconsin earned three different trips to the podium. Between those highlights he battled through some adversity, but gained a lot of valuable experience along the way. With Kyle Pallin’s retirement at Team LaVallee Racing, Peterson becomes the high-octane team’s top dog. He finished eighth in Pro points last year.

Jacob Yurk, No. 727 Arctic Cat – Each season in his Pro career, there have been a couple of races where Yurk comes charging out of the gates and makes everybody take notice, and a bunch of other races where he just looks like “a guy” out there or is forced to deal with injuries. Last year was no exception: The Michigan native had back-to-back podium finishes in rounds six and seven on his All Finish Concrete Cat, but never had another top five and missed the season finale due to injury. Is this the year the now 25-year-old puts it all together?

Notable Snocross Veterans

Oskar Norum, No. 40 Polaris – This 29-year-old Swedish racer looked to be on the rise coming out of the 2021 season but then slipped to mid-pack often last year. He started slow and ended up with just three podiums overall last year, but for the season straight season he closed strong – with a second and fourth at the season finale in Michigan. He’s back as Kamm’s teammate at Hentges Racing.

Logan Christian, No. 43 Ski-Doo – The Minnesota native earned a fresh start in 2022, jumping brands from Arctic Cat to Ski-Doo when he joined the Scheuring Speed Sports team. Frankly, it was a disappointing season, as he battled some injuries and ended up deep in traffic often. Now 30, he won quite a few heat races last year but his best finishes in finals were three different fourth-place rides. He ended last season tenth in points.

They’re Ba-aa-ack

Aki Pihlaja, No. 128 Ski-Doo – At age 34, this Finnish racer is now one of the most senior racers on the circuit, but that doesn’t mean he’s slow. He only raced the first two weekends last year, and just missed the podium in round 2. And, he was the only racer other than Ishoel to have multiple victories in his last full season in North American (2020), when he finished fourth in points. Green Mountain Motorsports is bringing him in for a full season ride this year.

Petter Narsa, No. 27 Ski-Doo – After a three-year absence, this former X Games snocross gold medalist (2017) from Sweden is returning to North America to race for the new Skogquist Racing Team. Now 30, he’s finished as high as fifth in Pro points in the past – it’ll be interesting to see how he and this new team blend back into the field.

Other Pros To Watch

Cole Cottew, No. 21 Polaris – The personable young racer from Wisconsin had one strong weekend last year in Deadwood, but otherwise had a rather rough go of it, finishing 11th in points overall. He’s back with a renewed vigor looking for some podiums in 2023 for his family’s Cottew Motorsports team.

Travis Kern, No. 201 Polaris – After a long career in various undercard classes, this Palisade, Minnesota, native finally turned pro last year. It was a learning year, with a season-best finish of seventh at Deadwood and a 13th place overall finish in points. Now 27, he’s a teammate of Cole’s at Cottew Motorsports.


The Drop Ins?

RJ Roy, No. 14 Polaris – The Ontario racer sent his information into the race circuit for the 2022-23 race season, but his intentions for this year are not clear. The 27-year-old out of Ontario has earned points titles on the CSRA circuit north of the border and has made occasional drop-ins on the national circuit before and made finals – including a seventh-place finish in 2017 at Duluth. He’s also been a fill-in driver for an injured racer in the past, but ultimately has returned to racing either north of the border or out East.   

Jesse West, TBA Arctic Cat – The name of Jesse West of Velva, North Dakota, is also on the list of racers who sent in their information for the Pro class on the ISOC ACS circuit, but Adam West is mentioned elsewhere.

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