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    Countdown to Racing is On!

    Posted by Ross Halvorson
    on Monday, November 17, 2014

     As soon as the last checkered flag is thrown at Lake Geneva and the race rigs are loaded up, all the race directors at the manufacturers already have their eyes set on how to improve next season. They’ll start testing parts, motors, suspensions and super top secret prototype parts on the test tracks developing a better sled than the year before. Racer’s start working on new contracts, training and doing everything they can to make themselves better to win a championship. Most people don’t realize that snowmobile racing is a year-round sport!

    In the snowmobile industry Hay Day’s is touted as the official start of winter and as you walk around visiting all the manufacturers there is one common thing that all of them are discussing: their new snocross limited build race sleds and the riders that will put their sleds on the podium. Some OEMs make big shows about unveiling their new race sleds at Hay Day’s, who can forget that one year Ski-Doo brought their new race sled to the unveiling via helicopter? Now that is making an entrance!

     So we all agree that Hay Days is the start of winter, but in snowmobile racing, one has to believe the Duluth National Snocross is our official start. November 28 is the start of the 2015 snowmobile race season, and as it has been for the past 23 years, Thanksgiving weekend will be the Duluth National Snocross. It is the time all the top drivers get together to see where they stack up against their competitors, engineers get to see all their hard work finally on the track, and fans get to see their favorite racer.

    Ten years ago riders had a chance to race their way in for the X Games. Friday night at Duluth was the X Games qualifier and there always was someone that stole the spotlight. At the 2005 event a relatively unknown rider showed up to Duluth and shocked everyone when he won the X Games qualifier as a privateer. Who was that rider you ask? Mathieu Morin, who weeks later signed with Warnert Racing to fill in for C.W. Sirjane when he was injured. X Games is now invite-only, so for some it just doesn’t hold the same clout as it did back then.

    Fast forward to Duluth 2011 and ISOC came up with the Amsoil Dominator race for Friday night. Sixteen riders go head-to-head in a bracket-style elimination race. The winner of each one-on-one race moves on to the next round, while the loser goes back to the trailer for the night. When it is all said and done one rider stands atop of the podium with a nice payout of $10,000. The first two years of the Dominator Cup was won by Factory Polaris Racer Ross Martin. Coming into Duluth last season all the talk was about Ross going for the triple but with the “dash for cash” format it only takes one bobble and your done for the night, which is what happened to Ross. In the final it was the Team Amsoil teammates of Tim Tremblay and Robbie Malinoski, which not only meant they were racing for the big payout, but bragging rights in the trailer. When the snow dust settled it was Tremblay crossing the line first.

    With the Duluth snocross less than two weeks away, we reached out to a few teams to get some insight on what to watch for this season. We even were able to get Polaris Race Director Tom Rager Jr. to take time out of his busy schedule to give us an update on their efforts: 

     Tom Rager Jr.:  “I’m very excited for Duluth and the upcoming year. All of our top teams had success last year, so the goal was to try and keep all the teams intact. We were able to do that, so hopefully they can all build off of last year and even do better this year. The only key rider from last year that won’t be racing with us is Levi (LaVallee).  But with his retirement he will now be able to focus even more on his Team LaVallee riders. 

    “I’m looking forward to seeing how Andy Lieders and Corin Todd do with moving to the Pro-Open class.  They both have a lot of experience and I think they are going to surprise a lot of people and I expect them to have some really good finishes.” 

    Tucker Hibbert: Tucker will enter his 15th professional snocross season with a proven program focused on success. With the same core crew members and a familiar sponsor line-up behind him, Hibbert is in a solid position to defend his ISOC National Pro Open title, continue his X Games Aspen gold medal streak and claim his 100th Pro National victory. 

    “My program is solid – from my equipment, to my crew, to each and every sponsor that stands behind us. We’re all passionate, competitive and dedicated to doing our best. I couldn’t ask for a better group of people in my corner." 

    "Last year was unreal, but I know there’s still room to improve. That’s the best part about racing – it’s constantly evolving. My team and I never stop testing or fine-tuning because that’s what it takes to stay on top. We have another big year ahead of us, but I know we’re prepared and ready for the challenge.” 

     Boss Racing: Over the summer Boss Racing basically cleaned house and is coming to Duluth with three pro racers (Adam Renheim, Darrin Mees, & Colby Crapo) and one pro woman (Marica Renheim). 

    “Adam Renheim had a great year in Sweden winning the World Cup, Colby Crapo finishing 2nd in pro open points in Canada, unfortunately Darrin Mees was hurt most of the year, but ran well in ISOC when he was able to compete, and Marica Renheim never lost a race all year last season in the ISOC Pro Women’s class.” 

    Wollenburg Motorsports: Last season Luke Wollenburg was sitting in 2nd place for the Sport Stock points and fresh off a win at the Canterbury ISOC National snocross when he was injured at the Deadwood race, which forced him to sit out most of the remainder of the season. 

    For the 2015 Luke jumps up to the super competitive Pro Lite division, and the team added Jake Geeseman to fill in the void for Sport class. They are also very excited to announce they secured a sponsorship with the Green Bay Blizzard, an arena football team. 

     StudBoy Racing: The StudBoy race team has always been one of the family stables of riders. Not only do they run a business together, but they race together. One of the biggest surprises of the off-season was when Ron Pattyn, owner of StudBoy Traction, informed us at Hay Days they were signed with Team Arctic for the 2015 season. The guys have been loyal to Ski-Doo for years, and in the Pro ranks it was obvious that things just weren’t clicking as needed for Zach Pattyn.

     A few seasons ago Zach raced for the Christian Bros Race team aboard Arctic Cat with success, so we fully expect Zach, Nick and Jake to be back up front and contending for wins like they did a few seasons ago.

    For more information on the Duluth ISOC snocross opener visit: http://isocracing.com/nov-28-30-2014-duluth-national/

    - Todd Myers, AmSnow Race Contributor

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