EDITORS NOTE: Check on this story for updates that occurred days after the story below was posted.
The off-season for snowmobile snocross racing is rarely quiet, but this summer it’s setting up to be particularly tumultuous. A couple of the sport’s top teams have announced they are leaving snocross. That leaves a bit of a hole while loose some very high-profile racers to find new rides. Plus there’s other personnel news at hand.
It started in May. That’s when the North Dakota-based All Finish Racing team announced it was shuttering its leading Arctic Cat race team. All Finish has been the team for which Daniel Benham and Jacob Yurk raced the last two seasons. Those were All Finish’s only two years in the sport.
That move was somewhat expected by snocross insiders after well-placed rumors spun around the pits last winter.
Less expected was the departure of the Hentges Racing Team, which was announced on July 2. The powerhouse Polaris team had been in the sport for over 20 years and won four Pro championships and four X Games gold medals. Its current drivers – Kody Kamm and Oskar Norum – was also set free.
As of this writing, all four of those drivers remain unsigned. Well-placed rumors, though, have each landing at other spots. Add in a couple of highly successful Pro Lite racers who are expected to move up to the Pro class, a retirement of a longtime veteran and some new teams adding Pro level talent, and you’ve got the most interesting off-season in years.
Snocross Loses All Finish
The All Finish Racing team announced its demise May 19, saying it was “taking a step back from the snocross world.” The announcement added, “We were unable to put a program together with Arctic Cat that worked for all parties.”
The All Finish group stepped into the sport a couple of years ago with a big-money effort. It included top-notch equipment and surprisingly big contract offers for racers and mechanic that rocked the sport a bit.
But with Arctic Cat offering limited support for snocross these days, the costs borne by the team got steep rather quickly.
“Arctic Cat has been nothing but great to us over the last two seasons, but in the end we couldn’t come to terms with them,” the All Finish Facebook Post stated. “It’s unfortunate as we were hoping we could progress with their program, but things just did not work out.”
Within snocross circles, the talk is that Benham will end up at another Arctic Cat team. The Woodies Racing team being the most likely scenario. Yurk’s future is a bit more cloudy. His occasional runs toward the front of the pack have been offset by many injuries over his career.
Snocross Loses Hentges
The Hentges announcement on July 2 was arguably even more impactful to the sport, as it had been a leading edge team for more than 20 years. With Hall of Fame racer turned technical guru Tim Bender masterfully creating fast sleds plus some of the sport’s best drivers over the years, it had a high level of success.
Racers who competed for the team included past champions Kody Kamm, TJ Gulla and Levi LaVallee, X Games gold medalist Petter Narsa, plus many other Pro final winning racers including Todd Wolff, Justin Tate, Brett Bender, Oskar Norum, Emil Harr, Curt Peterson, Justin Broberg and more. A complete list is in the press release that is posted at the bottom of this story.
Kamm is rumored to have already reached an agreement to race for another high-profile Polaris team, while the rumor mill has Norum landing at a Polaris team that hasn’t hosted a Pro class racer in few years.
Other Interesting Moves
Meanwhile, Logan Christian announced his retirement from the sport in April. The well-respected competitor from Fertile, Minnesota, had raced the last couple of seasons for the Scheuring Speed Sports Ski-Doo team after a very long stint with his family’s own Christian Bros. Racing Arctic Cat team.
The Scheuring team didn’t immediately replace Christian with a Pro class racer, opting instead to sign potential rising star Anson Scheele to compete in Pro Lite. He’s a second-generation racer (son of Aaron Scheele) who competed in Pro Lite for the aforementioned All Finish team last year.
Also in the Pro Lite ranks, veteran racer Nick Lorenz announced he is joining the Ski-Doo-based West Coast Customs teams for the 2023-24 season, leaving behind the Hemmer Motorsports team for which he competed last year.
Meanwhile, the top two Pro Lite drivers are expected to race in the Pro class for their respective teams. Class dominator Jordan Lebel from Quebec looked very competitive when he opted into the Pro class at the season finale on his Warnert Racing Ski-Doo. His main rival, Ryley Bester, has also run Pro-like lap times in Pro Lite on Team LaVallee Polaris sleds.
There are other rumored moves in the offing as well. There are questions over whether a couple of Scandinavian riders will come back to North America next year. Another team or two may also add a Pro-level racer after previously focusing on Pro Lite.
And one most big dominos: What about Tim Bender? He has been a master in turning Polaris race sleds for the last 17 years. Will he return? Will he take a more overall Polaris position? Or will he land with an individual team? That decision could be as impactful as any of this other news.
Here’s the full press release about the departure of the Hentges team (below):
Hentges Racing Announces Decision To move On From National Snocross
23 Years of Chasing Checkered Flags Comes To A Class For Remarkable Polaris Team
Shakopee, MN (7/2/23) – Hentges Racing announced their decision to move on from national snocross today after 23 years of chasing checkered flags as front-runners in the sport.
Hentges Racing team owner, Nate Hentges said, “This announcement is a tough one for us, but all aspects of the decision have been carefully considered. After twenty-plus years of facilitating a premier-level snocross race operation, it’s time for us to step away.”
Reflecting on the team’s successful longevity in the sport, Hentges added, “Our family has dedicated a huge part of our lives to racing snowmobiles and we have showcased success thanks to the tremendous amount of work and devotion all members have put into this team. One member I can’t thank enough, is Tim Bender, whose title has been Team Manager, but he’s far more than that – Tim is an innovator, mentor and most importantly, a friend. Tim Bender has steadily improved our team for the last 17 years.”
Pro Rider, Oskar Norum, adds his heartfelt appreciation, “I have always dreamed of come race in USA for a professional team since I started race snocross as a kid back in Sweden. So, to be picked up by Hentges Racing for the 2020 season was a dream come true – It was such a big difference from racing back home. It has been an honor for me to work with all the professional people in the team and have the chance to be a part of the Hentges Racing family.
“I can’t thank Nate and Karen enough for giving me this opportunity, they have been such nice to me and made me feel like home in USA. It’s been an awesome trip and I have had so much fun racing and trying to reach my goals. I also want to give especially thanks to racing legend Tim Bender for his passion and drive for the sport and believing in me. It has been an honor to work with Tim.”
Kody Kamm, finished the 2023 season in the top three in national Pro points and has spent a lengthy career with Hentges Racing. Kamm remarked, “Grateful that Polaris and Hentges Racing opened their doors at such an early part of my career and welcomed me in as just a “fill in” guy for a short time, which turned into 13 years. With a ton of success through those years, I am saddened we are splitting, but will never forget our team memories made together.”
“I wish Kody Kamm and Oskar Norum the best for the future. These guys are truly talented, hard workers, and I couldn’t have asked any more from them.” – Nate Hentges, Hentges Racing Owner
Hentges Racing leaves the sport with a long list of accolades including four Pro championships: Kamm (2017), Gulla (2009 and 2007) and LaVallee (2009), one 2012 Pro Lite Championship (Kamm), eleven Winter X Games medals (4 Gold, 4 Silver and 3 Bronze), the 2021 Eagle River World Championship (Norum), 36 Pro National Wins and 149 Pro National podiums. Hentges is also the only Polaris team to win a gold medal in X games snocross (Narsa). Their rider list over the years is equally impressive, including the top talents: Todd Wolff, Curt Peterson, Justin Tate, Brad Pitlik, TJ Gulla, Levi LaVallee, Brett Bender, Kody Kamm, Justin Broberg, Petter Narsa, Oskar Norum, Emil Harr, Bobby LePage, Jonny Hentges, Chris Kafka, Don Leddy, Tyler Olson and Nate Hentges.
Nate Hentges continued, “Our team success story is a direct result of the support given by our many sponsors. I’m truly thankful for every single one of their partnerships. We’ve worked out of the factory Polaris race shop in Wausau, Wisconsin for 17 years. The learning and experiences gained there were nothing short of amazing. It makes me proud to think many of the race components and technology the Hentges team tested on the track, made their way to a production Polaris snowmobile.”
Hentges departure from National Snocross racing is effective now, and Nate added, “While we are moving on from Snocross, we are going to keep our competition options in other arenas open for the future.”
Special thanks to ISOC National Snocross, all the Hentges Racing fans and incredible sponsors: Monster Energy, Polaris, FXR, Pirtek, Polaris Engineered Lubricants, Woody’s Traction Products, S.M. Hentges & Sons Inc., SMH West, Rinker Materials, IAMACOMEBACK, Walker Evans Racing Shocks, C&A Pro Skis, Camso, Apple Autos, Ergodyne, 139 Designs, Rox Speed FX, Heel Clicker, Starting Line Products and Uncharted Supply.