Round 2: Blackjack National

The Blackjack National marked Round 2 of the National snocross tour. It went down this past weekend in Ironwood, Michigan, -well, actuall Bessemer, which is the next town down Highway 2 as you head East into Michigan’s U.P. Here are some photos I shot on Saturday and some of my impressions on the day as well as the competition overall.

Travis Muller got the call from Warnert Racing to fill in for the injured Kaven Benoit. Benoit was at the race walking with a crutch. He dislocated his hip at Duluth.

No, Ron Pattyn's trailer isn't foggy, it's just my lens. Here he pours some of Dragon's finest race fuel into a test container to bring to tech.

The Stud Boy trailer is guarded by these two vicious guard dogs.

Iain Hayden does his dynamic warm up before Pro practice. He had a gnarly crash at Duluth and had another in the first round of qualifying at Blackjack.

Dan Ebert's mechanic Greg Muller warms up his mod before Pro practice. Dan had a great weekend that the Regional race at Quadna Mountain Park the weekend before.

Johan Lidman warms up on the bike before Pro practice. That Muscle Milk is good stuff!

The lodge at Blackjack. Word is the owners want to make the race a regular deal every year - same date, same everything to people keep coming back. It's not a bad idea as this is about the only place there's snow so early in the snowmobile/ski season.

Pro Lite is where the action is this season and the class has the best racing on the circuit in my opinion. Here Petter Narsa lets Garrett Mees know that the guy with the red plate should go first.

One reason I like the Pro Lite class is there are about 10 guys who can win on any given weekend, and some of them aren't the guys racing out of the big haulers. Chase Rosemeyer is one of those guys.

CSRA regulars Joey Sagan and Dylan Hall were strong all weekend. Hall swept the Semi-Pro points on the CSRA circuit last year and is a rookie Pro on that circuit this season.

Of course, everyone knows Dylan Martin, he's Ross Martin's brother. Like his brother, Dylan has a lot of talent and can win on any given weekend. He will race Pro on the East Coast Snocross circuit this season for Team Southside.

Jake Scott races for Team LaVallee. With Levi Lavallee sitting out the weekend because he was in California testing for his distance jump and Bobby LePage out with injury, Scott carried the flag for the LaVallee squad.

Even with all the talent in the Pro Lite class if you could name one kid who is the next big thing it might have to be Kody Kamm. Kamm is still learning the snocross ropes and is sometimes his own worst enemy on the track. When things fall into place for him he's blazing fast though.

James Johnstad has been lighting it up in the Pro Lite class. He's still super-young too, so who knows where he will go?

Andrew Carlson has the massive support of the Carlson Motorsports team behind him. He seems on the brink of breaking big in the next season or so.

Dave Joanis is another guy who races Pro on CSRA and has dabbled on the National circuit over the past few years. He had a great day at the race on Saturday, winning the final.

With Kyle Pallin and Cody Thomsen moving up to Pro, the Pro Lite ranks in the Cat amp are pretty thin. Perhaps their best hope at a good result lies with Matt Pichner.

Nick Pattyn has risen to the top of every class he's raced in so far, now he's racing Pro Lite. He's young, but definitely on the pace.

Andy Lieders came out of nowhere a few years back and I think still shows promise. He seems plagued by bad luck though.

Joe Fallen has had a great start to his season. He's another one of those privateers who could steal a race if he has a good day.

Oh hey, there's Tucker Hibbert.

Emil Ohman watches Pro Open heats. He's proven so far this season that a healthy Emil is a serious competitor.

Ross Martin says, "That's the gnarly part, right over there," as Dani pees her pants cuz hey, it's Ross Martin!

This isn't the gnarly part Ross was pointing at, this is the kinda gnarly part.

Apparently Mathieu Morin is feeling better after popping his shoulder out at Duluth. He finished fifth in Pro Open Saturday. Must be the Jimmy Johns.

Scott Judnick lookin' all serious and stuff.

OK, HERE's the gnarly part. Downhill, close-spaced, kind-of-a-rhythm-section that was the scene of more than a few crashes. Woulda been sweet to have a massive X Games-style flyaway on this downhill but hey, what do I know?

Justin Tate was running fourth at Duluth on Sunday before he got bumped off the track. He also injured his shoulder in that incident but he said it wasn't a big deal it was better a few days later. He's pretty much a privateer in Pro Open, which is really cool.

Cory Davis was on out Top 10 snocross rider rankings list. He's shown moments of brilliance this season but for the most part has struggled after sitting out snocross racing last year.

Brett Bender's mod is super-cool. The trend this year seems to be black sleds.

Dan Ebert transferred to the main through the LCQ. One of only four Cats to make it in.

The sun was setting behind the mountain as the Pro Lite final went down. Here, Dave Joanis has the lead but he's looking back...

...because Derek Ellis (along with Ellis' teammate Petter Narsa) is right behind him.

Joanis got the win followed by Narsa and Ellis. Narsa still had the red plate at the end of the weekend but he's headed back to Scandinavia to fulfill his contract to race for Lynx. By the way, that's an all-Ski-Doo Pro Lite podium folks.

T.J. Gulla looks for a good place to watch the Pro Open final. After a podium finish at Duluth on Sunday Gulla struggled at Blackjack on Saturday. He came back Sunday, won the LCQ and finished eighth.

The Hibbert and Martin show lines up for the final. First year Pro Mike Bauer qualified fourth.

Hibbert got a monster holeshot, but the start was a tricky one, kind of a double dogleg deal combined with an uphill.

The riders get funneled into the uphill run and yup, looks like Hibbert's got it.

But wait! Hibbert gets tagged from behind and pushed out onto the soft stuff. That taillight at the top of the hill? Oh, that's just Martin, pretty much checked out.

Martin learned last season that you can't let up even when you get a monster holeshot and crazy lead. He was on the gas trying to put distance between himself and whatever was behind him.

He almost had the race right off the start, but once again Hibbert was forced to eat roost as he went to work running down Martin. Something in the driveline on Bender's sled locked up early in the race leaving Tremblay and Malinoski between Hibbert and the leader.

Hibbert got by Malinoski and then ran down Tremblay.

Paul Bauerly ended up tenth on Saturday and ninth on Sunday. Not a bad weekend for a guy who doesn't get much recognition.

Martin came around with about two laps left to go in the 14-lap race headed into the finish line jump...

...with Hibbert close enough to catch some of his roost blast.

Hibbert caught Martin and tried a block pass, running into Martin. Hibbert got by but lost his spindle. He nursed it around to start the final lap...

...then got on the gas, realizing his sled didn't handle THAT bad and hey, every spot lost cost him valuable points.

Shortly after Martin's win Nate Hentges, Tim Bender and Tom Rager Jr. talk about the general awesomeness of the race.

Advantage: Martin.

 

Comments

  1. kimster says:

    The best!!!

    Ross Martin says, “That’s the gnarly part, right over there,” as Dani pees her pants cuz hey, it’s Ross Martin

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