2010-11 Polaris Snowmobile Racing Preview
Polaris racers gunning for championships
Story by Staff, Sep. 14, 2010Email a friend Print Friendly RSS
Polaris Snowmobile Racing Manager Tom Rager, Sr. is optimistic about the upcoming season for Polaris racers in snocross, cross country, ice ovals and hillclimbs
Polaris snocross racers have established a tradition of domination on snocross racing circuits across the snowbelt. Last winter’s performances added to that tradition as Polaris racers won season points titles on circuits from the Rockies to the East Coast.
“Last year I felt like the second half of the season went really, really well for us,” says Rager. “We worked through some small issues in the first half of season and had a very strong second half.”
Rager feels the 600 IQ Race Sled’s redesigned front end should help keep Polaris racers out in front of the competition.
“With the new front end and what we learned in the second half of last season, we’ll approach it like we approach every season, where we’ll go out and try to win every race we can,” says Rager. “We’ve got Ross Martin and TJ Gulla, who we lost [to injury] after Duluth last season, coming back, and I feel Levi [LaVallee] will be the healthiest he’s been heading to Duluth in the past two years. With those guys and Brett Bender, well, we’ve got a pretty good ‘front four,’ if you will.
“I think we’ll be fine in the Semi-Pro classes as well. Mike Bauer won one championship and was a couple points away from winning the other, and we’ve got Colby Crapo, so we should be pretty well set there, too.”
2009-10 Snocross Highlights:
• Judnick Motorsports racers Ross Martin and Mike Bauer achieved great success last season. Martin won the Pro Open points title and was second in Pro Stock points. He won five ISOC Proclass races and earned Pro podium spots 14 times. He also earned a silver medal in snocross at the 2010 Winter X Games. Bauer won the ISOC Semi-Pro Super Stock 1 points title and was second in Semi-Pro Super Stock 2 points.
• For Team LaVallee, Levi LaVallee finished second in ISOC Pro Open points and seventh in Pro Super Stock points. He also earned a gold medal in Snowmobile Knock Out and a bronze in Snowmobile Best Trick at the 2010 Winter X Games, and for the second-straight year won the ISOC “Fan Favorite” award. Bobby LePage, who joins Team LaVallee this season, won points titles in both RMR Pro classes last season.
• For Hentges Racing, second-year Pro-class racer Brett Bender finished seventh in ISOC Pro Open points and ninth in Pro Super Stock points last season. TJ Gulla was injured during Pro Super Stock qualifying at last winter’s ISOC season opener in Duluth, but he has recovered and is ready to race again this winter. Two years ago, Gulla won the ISOC Pro Open points title and was third in Pro Super Stock.
• Colby Crapo raced at only six of the seven events on the Mountain West Racing (MWR) schedule last winter, yet he earned enough points to win both the Pro Open and Pro Stock points titles. He was also the circuit’s overall leader in Pro points.
• The New York-based Hulten Speed Sports (HSS)/Island Water Sports North team won 10 Rock Maple Racing (RMR) points titles last season. (The circuit will be called East Coast Snocross [ECS] this winter.) Bobby LePage (who will race for Team LaVallee in 2010-’11) won both RMR Pro classes and placed fourth in Winter X Games Snocross. Jake Scott won RMR points titles in Sport Stock 600, Sport Super Stock Saturday and Sport Super Stock Sunday. Danny Poirier, one of the most successful racers in RMR history will compete in the Pro classes on the ECS circuit this winter.
• The Bourque’s Polaris Snocross Racing Team from Cochrane, Ont., will be represented by Pro racer Dave Joanis, who will compete on the Canadian Snowmobile Racing Association (CSRA) circuit in both Pro classes (Open Mod and Stock), and will race at selected ISOC events. Last winter he finished third in CSRA Pro Stock points and eighth in Pro Open Mod points.
The Polaris heritage of cross-country excellence continues with racers such as Gabe Bunke. This seasoned Pro has raced at every event in United States Cross Country (USCC) history, and last season he finished third in USCC Pro Open points and fifth in the Pro 600 standings. He also finished second in the three-day I-500 racing on a Polaris RUSH sled.
Aaron Christensen finished fourth in Pro Open points on the USCC circuit last season and was sixth in Pro 600 points. Corey Davidson won the USCC’s Vets 30+ title, and was 11th in both Pro 600 and Pro Open points.
Bunke is working closely with Polaris engineers to dial in the race setup for the RUSH models, and he and his fellow Polaris racers will use the RUSH in selected cross-country races this winter.
Bunke will be joined on his race team this winter by up-and-comer Bobby Menne IV. Menne, who comes from a Polaris racing family, finished third in the USCC’s Expert 85 and Expert 85 Improved classes last season. Menne will race in Semi-Pro classes this coming season.
Polaris cross-country racers Chris Olds and Tyler Huntington won the sport’s most grueling race last winter, beating the competition by more than two hours to win the 1,971-mile Iron Dog race across Alaska on a pair of Polaris 600 IQ Shift snowmobiles.
The 2010 Iron Dog was so demanding that only 12 of 29 Pro teams finished, and of the top 10 Pro teams to finish, five of them were on Polaris snowmobiles. Along with the winners, the other Polaris Pro teams in the top 10 were: James Sweetsir and Mark Tope in fifth place; Ryan Sottosanti and Jeremy Neeser in sixth; Louis Miller III and Louis Miller IV in seventh; and Kenny Johnson and Andy Lachinski in tenth.
The Polaris tradition of success on ice ovals continues with a strong contingent of racers who compete in the USSA Pro Star Oval Racing Series, at the Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby, at the Canadian Power Toboggan Championships in Manitoba and elsewhere across the snowbelt.
Dustin Wahl (Team Wahl) won 12 races last winter, including four wins at Shakopee in December. He finished fourth in the Eagle River World Championship, where teammate Brandon Johnson finished seventh. Their young teammate Jordan Wahl won 10 races last season, including four victories at Beausejour, Manitoba, in March.
The Team Wahl racers, Nick Van Strydonk (T&N Racing) and Joe Fjerstad are expected to set the pace for Polaris ice oval racers this coming season.
Polaris hillclimbers are looking forward to another strong season on the Western slopes. Second-year Polaris Western Snowmobile Racing Coordinator Darin Gould said the team was mostly pleased by last winter’s results, but hoped to improve on its performance at the annual World Championship Snowmobile Hillclimb at Jackson Hole, Wyo.
The Polaris hillclimbers achieved great success last season on the Rocky Mountain Snowmobile Hillclimb Association (RMSHA) circuit, and will try to add King of the Hill honors at Jackson Hole to this winter’s titles.
“We had an excellent season last year and I expect this season to be as good and possibly better because of the equipment. I was really, really happy with last season,” says Gould .
Leading the way for Polaris hillclimbers will be Keith Curtis of Dillon, Montana, who won 2009-2010 RMSHA points titles in 600 Stock, 700 Stock, 800 Stock and 800 Mod. He was also second in 1000 Stock points, and he won the 1000 Stock title at Jackson Hole.
Cole Willford won the RMSHA 600 Mod points title, finished third in 700 Mod and was fourth in 600 Stock points. He finished second in 600 Stock at Jackson Hole.
Erin Buekelman won the RMSHA 700 Improved and 700 Mod points titles last winter, and he was fourth in both 800 Improved and 1000 Improved.