Jake Scott Pro Open Final

USXC Plans Mini I-500

It’s finally happening! Now the kids get their chance at I-500 glory. Click here for more info.

131 Racing Suffers Setback At Duluth

Not exactly the seat time Menne was looking for from Duluth.

2013 was good to Bobby Menne – he got his first Pro cross-country win, finished Top 3 in Pro Open points and got a podium finish at the Soo I-500. 2014 was shaping up to be a great year for Bobby until Friday at the Duluth National Snocross when he cased a downhill double and shattered his heel or, as they call it in med school, his Calcaneus. The result? A lot of pain, reconstructive surgery and 6-8 weeks of no pressure on the heel.

“This is not how I wanted the season to start,” said Menne. “I just want to let all my friends and sponsors know that I will do everything I can to come back as fast as I can. I am hoping to be back in time for the Soo.”

 

Watching races from St Mary's in Duluth.

Win Autographed APV Oil From Tucker Hibbert

The real question is, how many Sharpies does Tucker go through in a season?

Tucker Hibbert has won more snocross races than any other active racer and right now he’s just a handful of wins away from becoming the winningest snocross racer ever. He’s won all his races using APV Oil and APV is proud to once again be the official oil supplier to Tucker Hibbert. APV is the oil of choice for Arctic Cat racers like Hibbert who demand the best performance and protection for their race-winning Arctic Cat snowmobiles.

During the 2013-2014 season Hibbert wants his fans to win with APV just like he does, so every time he wins a race he will give eight fans an autographed jug of APV oil. Odds are good too – last season Tucker won over 70-percent of the races he entered while using APV Lubricants.

It’s easy, just log on to http://arcticcatlubricants.com/win/ and enter your info. You only need to enter once to be eligible to win after any of the races on Hibbert’s calendar. Visit www.tucker-hibbert.com to see Hibbert’s race schedule. Enter and watch Tucker win!

Planet X Scheduled To Open November 15

Steve Scheuring announced today that the 15th is a go. “We are experiencing great snowmaking weather and already have more snow on the ground them we had when we opened last year. This is going to be a fantastic test track this year. We will also have a holeshot area and are hoping to make a smaller 120 track separate from the actual test track”

The price for track time has not changed and is the same as last year. We have plenty of parking and being located right in Aurora we have hardware, gas, groceries, auto parts store, and restaurants all within a mile.

Check our Scheuring speed sports Facebook page our or website www.scheuring-speedsports.com for updates

2014 Lynx 600RS

Meanwhile, in Scandinavia, Lynx riders are getting ready to pilot this 2014 Lynx 600RS into competition. Equipped with a Rotax 600 race engine and a lot of other very Ski-Doo-like (or shall we say, BRP-like?) features, it also has a number of things unique to the Lynx brand most notably the PPS 3300 rear skid. The skid is uncoupled and looks much simpler than the rMotion derivative used in the Ski-Doo race sled. It features a Yamaha-like horizontal rear shock tucked up inside the tunnel. The tunnel is different than the Ski-Doo too, it isn’t tipped up at the back and looks to have different bracing. The rest you can figure out.

See the spec sheet here.

Front end looks the same as the Ski-Doo.

It's got a track.

Yamaha-like dzus fasteners.

Gauges and stuff.

Grips and starter switch that serves as pipe pre-heater switch.

2013 sledRacer.com Racer Of The Year: Tucker Hibbert

2013 was a comeback year of sorts for Tucker Hibbert. It was also one of the best single seasons for a snocross racer. Ever.

You could call 2013 a comeback season for Tucker Hibbert. You see, he spent much of his 2012 season battling with setups on a new machine, then a late-season injury nearly ended his career. Notice the word career and not season? Yup, it was that bad. An off at the last race in Lake Geneva left him in the hospital with a messed-up kidney. While the team kept his status on the down-low, things were literally touch-and-go for Hibbert. There’s something to be said for being in top-level physical condition and Hibbert’s conditioning is one of the things that allowed him to pull through it and emerge 100-percent. This intro’s already way too long, but you should also consider this – Hibbert’s 2013 season was perhaps the best season for any single snocross rider. Ever. In sixteen finals Hibbert never finished lower than fifth place, he won eleven, came in second once and fifth four times. He also won Clash of Nationas and his sixth consecutive (seventh total) X Games snocross gold medal. You want next level? Hibbert’s taken it there with a program where he oversees every single detail of every detail. With 80 Pro wins, he’s only four shy of tying Blair Morgan for total career wins. He was the most dominant rider on the biggest stage in snowmobile racing today. That’s why he’s 2013 sledRacer.com Racer of the Year.

sledRacer.com: You’re sledRacer.com racer of the year.
Tucker Hibbert: Thank you, that’s awesome! It caught me off guard – the timing was a little weird so I was like, “What? Really?” I’m honored.

sR: What would you say was the highlight of your season?
Hibbert: It’s hard to pick the best races and highlights from each season. People ask me, “What’s my favorite track?” and it changes every year, so it’s hard to pinpoint. Obviously X Games was a big race for me to get six in a row last year. Every race is different and every race has things about it that make it cool. There isn’t one thing that jumps out at me that makes it cool.

sR: You didn’t lead every lap at X Games last year, you had to pass Ross Martin about two laps in. Was there any panic for you at the start of that race?
Hibbert: Not really, I try to stay calm all the time. I know that race is long and any time Ross gets a good start it usually makes me a little bit nervous, and he usually gets good starts. He’s fast at the beginning of races so I try not to get too many guys in between us and let him get ahead. I just tried to hammer down and pass him right away and get some distance between us before we got into some lappers.

sR: What drives you?
Hibbert: I’m more motivated by just trying to be better each season and each race. There’s always something going on with new riders or new sleds, but you can always find ways to get better. As a rider I just try to be as efficient as I can with my training and with my riding, and at the race track trying to find things to improve on. Once you get to the level where you’re racing professionally there isn’t something that’s going to gain you a whole lot, so you have to focus on the little things and make up little bits of time or make little improvements everywhere. So that’s what I’ve been focusing on the last couple years is trying to figure out the little things I can to do put myself in a better postion.

sR: Without giving away any secrets, would you say you’ve got things figured out on your sled that some haven’t?
Hibbert: Yeah, we try to stay a step ahead of the competition with our equipment and the sleds. And that’s one cool thing about racing is it never ends with development and testing and trying to make things better. I think we’ve done a good job with trying to be the leaders in that, but obviously we’re racing a bunch of guys who are as driven and competitive as we are. They’re pushing the limits too. We never know what the other guy is doing but I think we have a pretty good idea and that drives us to make better parts all the time. Last year I feel my sled was probably the best it’s ever been as far as being reliable and consistent in doing what I wanted it to do. I think the hard work we put in after the bad season we had two years ago showed through and helped us get confidence back. I know there are a few things we were doing last year that the competition caught on to and started doing toward the end of the year but that’s part of the game I guess.

sR: You’re testing right now? It’s the end of October and I just saw a video of you riding.
Hibbert: Not right now. We were back at the shop for a few days getting ready to do another run. It’s been good for us this year, we found some good early snow. I’m doing a lot better than I have in some of the previous years so that’s good.

sR: This must be the earliest ever for you as far as being able to go testing?
Hibbert: I think for me it’s probably the earliest I’ve ever gotten to ride. Last year I didn’t get to do much pre-season riding at all just because we were building sleds late and trying tog et things done. We never made a big push to do a lot of pre-season testing. Some seasons I’ve done tons of pre-season testing. It doesn’t always seem to translate into results, more riding isn’t always better, but it doesn’t hurt.

sR: What’s in Tucker Hibbert’s future? Long term?
Hibbert: I have a game plan for what I want to do in the future. For now I just try to focus year-to-year and just keep winning races. As long as I’m racing I want to be up front, I don’t want to start fading and finishing lower than I am. I’m getting older and the competition is getting younger, so I have to find ways to keep them behind me.

Steve Vandeputte

Steve Vandeputte (r) with Ryan Greening after Greening won the Semi-Pro class at the I-500 in 2011. Photo: FOX

Steve Vandeputte passed away yesterday, November 1, 2013. Steve owned Brothers Motorsports in Brainerd, Minn., and was a huge supporter of racing. I didn’t know him as well as some, but he is someone I would always try to at least exchange a handshake and a few words with whenever I saw him at the cross-country races. Here’s a story I did with him a few years back. This is the raw text from an interview.

Brothers motorsports started as Brainerd Yamaha in 1989 founded by Steve.

I was in the car business with my dad and I was looking for something else to do to supplement the car business and the Yamaha dealer in Brainerd at the time had went out of business. I thought that was something I could do since I grew up in the car business. I approached Yamaha and inquired about being a dealer, they accepted me and that’s how it started.

What got us started in racing was in 1990 the Ski-Doo dealer north of town, vacationland marine, went out of business and ski-doo approached us about being a Ski-Doo dealer. I was reluctant, but they talked me into it. At that time Polaris was everything. I was wondering how I was going to promote Ski-Doos and sell them. Rick Strobel was working at Vacationland and I hired him. He had been racing and I decided if we can get some race sleds we would try racing them. We had pretty good success racing Ski-Doos in the MRP ice lemans circuit. They had plenty of horsepower and they handled good on the ice and we started winning some races with them. We got race team of the year in I think 1992 or 1993.

All of a sudden ski-doo was saying we were selling a lot of ski-doos compared to everyone else. The only thing I could put my finger on was we were out there racing them, we knew them inside and out, we knew the strong points and the weak points in them and we believed in the product. It reflected in the dealership and when no one was selling any we were selling hundreds and it sold me on the idea that being involved racing the sleds helps promote the product. Not so much if I found some young guy and gave him a deal on a sled and a discount on parts, it was because I was at the races and I was actually racing them myself. I think it’s a good formula and its worked for me ever since.

Customers sense the passion, that’s my belief. When we sponsored the ISOC National in Brainerd last year customers thanked us. It was a good venue and they were happy to see that Brothers Motorsports put forth the effort and came up with the resources. I think a dealer that gets in the business just to make money you’re not going to be successful. You have to believe in the product and be passionate about it and it will come off in your employees and in your customers. I’ve talked to dealers that sell jet skis and they’lltell you they hate jet skis because it ruins their fishing. Or if you sell motorcycles but don’t ride one because it’s too dangerous or you sell snowmobiles but don’t ride them because you don’t like the cold, you’re not going to be successful no matter how good a businessman you are. It’s a passion-driven business.

I’ve got Robbie Malinoski’s sled here, the one he won the silver medal on last year. Robbie knows I’m passionate and Russ Ebert knows I’m passionate so they want me involved. Russ called me and asked if I wanted to display Dan’s sled. And with Robbie, I met him a few years ago and the next thing he’s on a ski-doo and then he’s here signing autographs in the dealership here and pretty soon he’s coming up here withhis family to hang out. He sense it and he likes being involved here.

No one person can be everything. My passion and drive is snowmobiles and snowmobile racing and it has been my whole life. But I have employees that have the same passion and involvement with motocross and ATVs. It’s a good fit because I can’t be the guy who does everything, but I have key employees who fill in the other areas. Steve was in the red bull last man standing and he’s a parts man here. Every employee here is hired because they’re enthusiasts.

I’m proud of the fact that central Minnesota is the hotbed for snowmobile racing like southern California is for motocross. It’s unique culture and way of life, I’m proud of it.

Arctic Cat FY2014 Q2 Reports Sales Up, Profits Down

MINNEAPOLIS–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Arctic Cat Inc., (NASDAQ: ACAT) today reported net earnings of $23.4 million, or $1.70 per diluted share, for the fiscal second quarter ended September 30, 2013, compared to prior-year net earnings of $25.0 million, or $1.80 per diluted share. Net sales in the quarter were $238.5 million, up from net sales of $229.0 million in the same quarter last year.

“Based on our first-half results and prospects for the balance of this fiscal year, we remain confident that we will achieve another year of increased sales, record earnings and enhanced shareholder value in fiscal 2014”

Commented Claude Jordan, Arctic Cat chairman and chief executive officer: “We had strong double-digit sales gains in side-by-sides and snowmobiles that led to record second-quarter sales, on top of a record prior-year period. However, ATV sales in North America and Europe fell short of our expectations in the quarter, and the lower volume reduced our profitability.”

Jordan added: “We are maintaining our full-year outlook for fiscal 2014, but expect a challenging second half of the year. Arctic Cat posted outstanding performance in the fiscal first quarter, which is reflected in first-half sales growth of 6 percent and earnings up 7 percent. We anticipate continued strong dealer demand for side-by-sides and snowmobiles, and the new Wildcat models that we expect to introduce in our fiscal second half. In addition, we continue to focus on operational excellence and cost controls that will enhance our efficiency and profitability.”

Arctic Cat plans to introduce two new Wildcat pure-sport side-by-sides in November, as well as the Wildcat 50 Trail model in the fiscal 2014 fourth quarter.

Arctic Cat’s fiscal 2014 second-quarter financial results compared with the prior-year quarter:

Net sales grew approximately 4 percent, led by contributions from the Wildcat and Prowler HDX side-by-sides, and snowmobiles.

North American retail sales increased 17 percent from the prior-year quarter, with retail sales gains in ATVs, side-by-sides and snowmobiles.

Gross profit margins were 25.9 percent compared to 28.0 percent in the prior-year quarter, due to product mix, Canadian currency impact, and increased sales incentives driven by double-digit retail sales increases in the ATV/side-by-side business. Including the lower-margin Yamaha sleds that Arctic Cat is supplying, combined with the Canadian currency impact, Arctic Cat expects fiscal 2014 gross margins to be approximately 80 basis points lower than the prior year.

Operating expenses rose slightly to $25.4 million versus $25.3 million. The company continued to increase investment in research and development, which was up 29 percent from the prior-year quarter, to ensure a strong pipeline of new products and technologies, while maintaining strict cost controls.

Operating profit was $36.3 million versus $38.8 million in the year-ago quarter.
Cash and short-term investments totaled $40.1 million, up $16.1 million versus the same quarter last year. The company had no debt.

For the six months ended September 30, 2013, Arctic Cat’s net earnings rose 7 percent to a record $28.8 million, or $2.10 per diluted share, compared to net earnings of $27.0 million, or $1.95 per diluted share, in the prior-year quarter. The company’s year-to-date net sales increased 6 percent to $359.3 million versus net sales of $340.3 million in the year-ago first six months.

Business Line Results

ATVs/Side-by-Sides – Sales of Arctic Cat’s all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and side-by-sides increased 4 percent to $72.7 million, up from $69.7 million in the same period last year, primarily due to strong orders for the Wildcat X and the four-seat Wildcat 4 pure sport side-by-sides.

Said Jordan: “Our side-by-side business performed well in the 2014 second quarter, with continued strong growth in our Wildcat and Prowler HDX models in North America and international markets outside of Europe. However, second-quarter sales of ATVs in North America were lower than we anticipated, combined with ongoing economic headwinds in Europe, both of which contributed to single-digit increases in our ATV and side-by-side sales to dealers. On the retail side, we saw strong double-digit sales gains for our ATV and side-by-side business in the fiscal 2014 second quarter, due to consumer demand for our new products. As a result of lower wholesale and higher retail sales, our ATV dealers now have an improved inventory position that should translate into increased dealer orders going forward. Additionally, with the new side-by-side models that we intend to launch in our fiscal third and fourth quarters, we anticipate solid performance in the second half of the fiscal year.”

Arctic Cat remains focused on further increasing its ATV/side-by-side business as a percent of total sales. The company anticipates that this business will exceed 50 percent of total company sales for the fiscal 2014 full year. During fiscal year 2013, 45 percent of sales were in the ATV/side-by-side segment, up from 39 percent the previous year. The company continues to advance its growth strategy through new product introductions and international expansion.

Since entering the sport side-by-side segment with the Wildcat only a year and a half ago, Arctic Cat has rapidly extended its Wildcat line and now offers: Base and Limited models; the four-seat Wildcat 4; and the high-horsepower Wildcat X and Wildcat 4X. Further, the company has announced that it plans to begin shipping a 50-inch wide, trail-legal Wildcat in late fiscal 2014. With a narrower stance, the 50-inch Wildcat will allow riders access to authorized ATV trails, making it a versatile option for consumers.

Snowmobiles – Snowmobile sales in the fiscal 2014 second quarter increased 5 percent to $135.4 million, up from $128.6 million in the prior-year quarter.

Commented Jordan: “We are pleased with consumers’ early season retail response to our 2014 model year snowmobile line-up. In addition, our expanded relationship with Yamaha continues to proceed smoothly. We expect to begin shipping a larger number of snowmobiles to Yamaha in our 2014 fiscal third quarter.”

For the 2014 model year, Arctic Cat launched 10 snowmobiles, including the all-new ZR 6000 El Tigre high-performance sled, and new snowmobile engine options from Arctic Cat and Yamaha through an engine supply agreement. Arctic Cat also introduced its first designed and built snowmobile engine, the 6000 C-TEC2, which is a powerful, lightweight and fuel-efficient 2-stroke that enables the company to enter the large 600cc snowmobile market segment that now accounts for 18 percent of the snowmobile industry.

Parts, Garments & Accessories – Sales of parts, garments and accessories (PG&A) in the fiscal 2014 second quarter totaled $30.4 million, down 1 percent compared to $30.8 million in the prior-year quarter. Strong growth in parts and accessories was offset by lower garment sales. Arctic Cat expects its PG&A business to grow in the remainder of fiscal 2014 through further expansion of its Wildcat accessories offerings.

Fiscal 2014 Full-Year Outlook

For the fiscal year ending March 31, 2014, Arctic Cat is maintaining its sales and earnings guidance, but is targeting the lower end of the guidance range. The company continues to expect earnings in the range of $3.27 to $3.37 per diluted share, an increase of 13 percent to 17 percent over prior-year earnings of $2.89 per diluted share. The company anticipates sales in the range of $754 million to $768 million, an increase of approximately 12 percent to 14 percent versus fiscal 2013.

Arctic Cat’s fiscal 2014 outlook includes the following assumptions versus the prior fiscal year: core ATV North American industry retail sales flat to up 5 percent; side-by-side North American industry retail sales up 15 percent to 25 percent; snowmobile North American industry retail sales flat to up 3 percent; Arctic Cat dealer inventories, excluding new products, flat to up 10 percent; achieving slightly lower operating expense levels as a percent of sales; and increasing cash flow from operations. The company expects gross margins to decrease by approximately 80 basis points, due to additional Yamaha snowmobiles that will be built in Arctic Cat’s factory and, to a lesser extent, the Canadian currency impact. Most of the Yamaha gross margin impact will be experienced in the fiscal 2014 third quarter, as Arctic Cat ships a large number of Yamaha snowmobiles.

“Based on our first-half results and prospects for the balance of this fiscal year, we remain confident that we will achieve another year of increased sales, record earnings and enhanced shareholder value in fiscal 2014,” said Jordan. “We continue to expect our growth to be fueled by a strong pipeline of innovative new products and technologies, further market share gains in the growing side-by-side segment and greater operating efficiencies.”

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