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.

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.


Duluth National: The Numbers

The Duluth National had more than 181,000 live Internet viewers, according to Google Analytics. The online broadcast had 94,000 unique viewers and those viewers came from 68 countries including Canada, Untied States, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Japan, Iceland and Italy.

Attendance-wise the Duluth National was down about 4,000 people over last year’s totals and 4,500 fewer than the record of 36,500 set in 2008. In all, about 32,000 people showed up over three days to watch the races in person.


Petter Narsa Wins For Team BOSS Racing At Duluth

The 20th annual running of the Duluth National Snocross event saw a number of firsts for Team Jimmy John’s/ Ski-Doo/ BOSS Racing. Friday night Mathieu Morin (#14) was the first to take the Jimmy John’s sleds to the field for a 16 rider bracket challenge during the inaugural AMSOIL Dominator. Morin drew an early pick against Broberg and knocked him out of the running. The next bracket saw Morin head to head against Tucker Hibbert— who took the holeshot and left Morin just 2 short laps to recover. It was not to be, Morin was left to focus on Saturday’s Pro Open as Ross
Martin walked away with the $10,000 prize.

Saturday began with BOSS Pro Light Riders; Derek Ellis, Corey Watkinson and Petter Narsa showing astonishing speed, pulling holeshots and displaying soaring triples to a crowded grandstands. The team took four 1st place wins in the heat races— sending both Ellis and Narsa to the Main. Host athlete, Petter Narsa (#271) was the undisputed fastest rider on the track and top qualifier headed into this final. At the start, Narsa pulled the holeshot and led the entire race to win the opening round of the ACSS Pro Light class— clearly displaying his internationally renowned talent.

When the Pro Mods screamed onto the track, the crowd was in a frenzy as a super fast Mathieu Morin advanced to pass leader Malinoski during the first heat in Pro Open qualifying. A dislocated shoulder injury cut things short and sent Morin to the back leaving him with an 8th place result. Round 2 qualifying brought a 3rd place finish for Morin- leaving him 1 point shy of the LCQ and edging him out of the main.

Sunday‘s Pro Light was a near perfect repeat of day one, with Ellis, Narsa and Watkinson taking 4 combined first place finishes during qualifying- this time sending all 3 riders into the Main, with Derek Ellis (#106) ranked as the number one qualifier. Narsa came off the line in 2nd advancing on Kody Kamm, when he got tangled up in lap traffic only 2 laps left to go. Narsa continued to hold his 2nd place position taking the number 2 podium slot. Ellis took 4th overall.

Lead Pro, Mathieu Morin (#14) had a strange series of highs and lows during Sunday’s Pro Open qualifying rounds; he consistently exploded off the line moving to the 2nd place spot. Due to his earlier shoulder injury he could not sustain his position. During all three rounds he left the crowd bewildered as he would move to pass the leader – then suddenly he appeared to slump over the sled and pull off the track- the result of his shoulder popping out of its socket and leaving him
briefly unable to use his arm. Mathieu has been equipped with a state-of-the-art brace and doctors have already given him the green light for the next race of the season.

For pictures and more info, please visit our website at www.teambossracing,com

Fox Welcomes LaVallee Back To Its Athlete Roster

Scotts Valley, CA December 1, 2011 – FOX announced today that Levi LaVallee has returned to their roster of world-class athletes after being away for just one season. LaVallee’s 2011¬–2012 season will be action-packed with snocross, Winter X Games, and a New Year’s Eve distance jump over 300 feet of water in San Diego. Levi has his sights set on breaking his own distance jumping record of 361 feet, set during practice for the same stunt in 2010.

“Being back on FOX shocks, I look at how can I redefine my limits and take it to the next level in freestyle, distance jumping, and snocross,” said LaVallee. “Riding on FOX gives me the confidence to push myself to go bigger, farther, and faster.”

“This is so much more than just a sponsorship deal; I’m once again part of a suspension family that supports me at every level on and off the track,” Levi went on to say.

Levi is the current snowmobile distance jump record holder at 361 feet, a 4-time Winter X Games gold medalist, and the first person to attempt a double backflip in competition during the 2009 Winter X Games.

“Levi is very driven and has a packed season across many disciplines,” said Rick Strobel, Snowmobile Race Manager at FOX. “We’re all excited to have him back on the FOX team and to help him achieve his ambitious goals.”

Along with Levi comes the entire LaVallee team owned by Levi and Glenn Kafka, which includes Bobby LePage and Jake Scott.

Video interview with Levi:

LaVallee’s bio:


The spindles are custom but the a-arms looked like off-the-shelf Cat parts.


Keen-eyed observers at the ISOC Duluth National race may have noticed a much “taller” suspension gracing the front of Brett Bender’s Pro Open buggy on Saturday. We’re not experts, but up close it sure looked to be an Arctic Cat suspension affixed to the IQ bulkhead. We saw the sled inside the trailer and let’s just say not many details have been overlooked in it. We kind of expect this sort of thing to come out of Tim Bender’s shop, but the larger question is, with the mod-only Pro class is this an early glimpse at possible (and feared) amalgamation of the snocross Pro class?

Another look at the setup. Not sure how well it worked since Bender had an IQ race front back on the sled for Sunday's racing.

Christian Brothers Racing Kicks Off Season At Duluth National

Photo: Wayne Davis

Fertile, Minn. (November 28, 2011) – Excitement was high for the Christian Brothers Racing team as it headed into the first snocross race on the schedule in Duluth, Minnesota, this past November 25-27. The Duluth National Snocross takes place Thanksgiving weekend and is traditionally the race that kicks off the racing season. It is also one of the largest and most prestigious races on the snowmobile calendar.

CBR riders Logan Christian, Cory Davis, Garth Kaufman entered the event with little test time on their new Arctic Cat Sno Pro 600 snowmobiles. A vendor parts supply problem meant they weren’t able to ride their new snowmobiles until the Wednesday before the event, leaving little time to test and tune the machines leading into Friday’s opening ceremonies and the AMSOIL Dominator event.

Friday night featured a 16-rider bracketed racing format where two riders faced off in a two-lap sprint-type race. The loser was eliminated, the winner moved on. The winner received $10,000. In the first round Christian faced ISOC points champion and X Games gold medal winner Tucker Hibbert. Christian, who is coming off knee surgery, was behind Hibbert off the start and gave an all-out effort to catch him but came off his sled and was eliminated. Kaufman and Davis were matched against each other in the first round with Davis getting the best of Kaufman. In the next round Davis made a brilliant pass in the uphill mogul section to eliminate Tim Tremblay. Davis met eventual winner Ross Martin in the semi-final where Martin got the holeshot. Davis couldn’t catch him and was finally eliminated.

“This is my first race back after sitting out snocross racing last season with an injury,” Davis said. “Making it this far in my first night back racing? I’d say that’s a pretty good start to the season!”

The team entered Saturday’s Pro racing with a little more seat time after Friday’s Dominator event but they were still at a disadvantage to the other brands who had weeks more test time. A tough day of heat racing put all three CBR riders in the LCQ and only Davis was able to transfer to the final where he finished 12th.

Photo: Wayne Davis

“This was my first real time on the new sled and the first time we had the full mod package together to ride,” said Christian. “My knee was sore, but I felt good. It’s a little frustrating because we were definitely at a disadvantage having so little test time compared to our competition. Our crew did a great job putting the sleds together and they should get a ton of credit.”

In Sunday afternoon’s racing, Kaufman went 5-3 in heats and Davis went 2-4, good enough to get them in final. Christian went 2-6 which put him in the LCQ where he finished 9th and failed to transfer. The 20-lap final took place Sunday afternoon in front of a packed crowd. Davis and Kaufman navigated a brutally-rough course and managed to finish 10th and 11th respectively.

“This definitely wasn’t how we envisioned the weekend playing out,” said team co-owner Dwight Christian. “But it’s a long season and everyone came out of the event healthy. We have our work cut out for us but we will get to the front of the pack. We have too much talent not to.”

After two races Davis sits in 10th place in the Pro Open points standings. Kaufman sits in 17th and Christian is in 20th.

Photo: Wayne Davis

CBR rider Evan Christian had a good showing in the Transition Limited 8-12 class, he rode to a second place finish and a spot on the podium. He also landed a podium spot in Champ 120 where he finished third.

“Evan is the future of our team,” said Dwight Christian. “He’s picking up right where he left off last season standing on the podium at the end of the day.”

Next up for Christian Brothers Racing is the ISOC Blackjack National in Ironwood, Michigan, December 9-11. For more information visit For more information on Christian Brothers Racing visit

Judnick Motorsports: Dynamite Duluth

There is so much to talk about… starting with Ross Martin WINNING the first ever Friday Night “Amsoil Dominator” $10.000 prize. It was the first of its kind single elimination format, with the top 16 Pro Racers competing. The Final came down to Martin and Malinowski for a 2.5 lap sprint winner-take-all.

Ross took it all!

After Friday’s success we were pumped and ready Saturday. Ross was flying high and battled hard taking a 2nd in Pro Open CJ Ramstad Memorial Cup. Plus cohort James Johnstad’sFIRST EVER Pro Lite performance took him to the podium as well finishing 2nd. Kudos James!

Sunday – Ross Martin dominated the Pro Class. He nailed the Stud Boy Holeshot navigating a pretty big pile up in the rhythm section and blasted off from there -

Up-and-comer James Johnstad took his first Pro Lite podium at the Duluth National.

“Winning the Amsoil Dominator, the Pro Open WIN and two 2nd’s is a pretty cool way to start the season. This was a product of super hard work by the entire team. Our own Mike Bauer took a hard off on Sunday and was taken out by ambulance. We are ecstatic to report he is bruised up but ok!” said Scott Judnick. Team Owner

The Amsoil Championship Snocross Series has started off with a bang!

Ross Martin leads the Pro Class in points with 83, ahead of second by 11.

If you missed the outstanding action in Duluth you can catch it on Versus Sunday, Dec 18th 5pm EDT.

Join us for the next race in Bessemer, MI December 9th -11th.

Thank You To Our Outstanding Sponsors.
DuPont, Jack Links Beef Jerky, Amsoil, Polaris, Motorfist, SSI, Fly, Fox, EVS, Factory Pipe, Stud Boy, Renton Coil Springs, Wayne Davis Photography, Jeff Foster Trucking, C&A Pro, HMK, C-Tech,

Link Ford, Camoplast, Champion, Mitsuboshi, Sportech

Warnert Racing Invades Duluth

It was good to see old friend Tomi Ahmasalo again.

St. Cloud, MN November 28, 2011 – Warnert Racing kicked off the snocross season this past weekend at the
20th annual Duluth Nationals. With old friend Tomi Ahmasolo stopping by the trailer to show the guys how he
used to do things. The team was pumped up and looking forward to some great racing action. They started the racing action on Friday night in the Amsoil Dominator Challenge, which all three Warnert Racing Pro drivers had qualified for. This event was the first of its kind and with being only two laps it didn’t give riders much time to show of their endurance. The guys rode great but had some unfortunate luck, which took them out of the chase for the $10,000 cash prize.

Day two brought some heavy rains in the morning causing an unpredictable track that made for some exciting races. Kaven Benoit #127 kicked off a successful day by putting his NSK Ski‐doo on the podium in the Pro‐lites division taking home 3rd place. The track offered a massive up hill triple, which brought a chance for our Pro Open riders to really show of their flight skills. The guys qualified well and put all three of
their Ski‐doo’s into the final. It was a hard battle from the start, with riders pushing the limits for that number 1 spot. Tim Tremblay #11 was able to finish off the night by putting his Foremost Insurance Ski‐doo into 3rd place as the checkered flags waved. Showing just how much power and talent the Warnert Racing crew had for this season.

Kaven Benoit (r) on the podium at Duluth.

Sunday was the last and final day of the Duluth Nationals and brought better weather and an even faster track. Kaven Benoit #127 kicked off another great day by charging his way into the final through the LCQ. With a second row start Kaven pushed through the pack and charged into the 6th spot. The Pro Open guys rode with extreme confidence through qualifying and Justin Broberg was able to claim his spot in the number 1 qualifying position, with Tim Tremblay not far behind in second. This gave the guys great starting
positions and the inside line when the green light flashed! Justin got caught with another rider coming
down the deadly back side of the track, which would end his hunt.

Tim pulled a great hole‐shot and with riders battling behind him he was able to start pulling away from the pack. Tim was dominating the field when a sudden sled malfunction would end his day. Emil Ohman on the
#27 XPS Ski‐doo was able the battle his way up the pack and finish in a well deserved 6th position.

Foremost Insurance, Ski‐doo, NSK Bearings, XPS Lubricants, SSI Decals, Inc., Quadna Mountain Park, C&A Pro
Skis, 50 Below, Stud Boy, Fly Racing, Rotax, VP Racing Fuels, Dragon, NGK, KYB, Mechanix Wear, DP Brakes,
Rox, V‐Force Reeds, Frog Z Skin, TekVest and SnoStuff

Visit for up to date info on riders, sleds, and more.

LePage To Sit Out Duluth National

LONGVILLE, Minn., November 25, 2011 – Team LaVallee’s, Bobby LePage will sit out for the 20th Annual AMSOIL Duluth National race, held this weekend November 25-27 at Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Minnesota. LePage injured his leg late this fall during pre-season riding and on was looking to return, but after instructions from his doctor, LePage will not be able to compete at the 20th Annual AMSOIL Duluth National.

“I was really hoping to be back by the Duluth National, especially because its my home-town race, but the doctor said I needed a little more time for my leg to heal. So, I am going to keep taking things easy until I get the green light from my doctor.” states LePage.

Team LaVallee’s other pro rider, Levi LaVallee and pro lites rider, Jake Scott will be competing this weekend and it all starts tonight (Friday, November 25th) where the AMSOIL DOMINATOR® kicks off the 2011-12 ISOC AMSOIL Championship SnoCross Series.

Duluth, 20 Years Ago…

Twenty years ago Snow Week was on hand to document the first Duluth National Snocross and we revisit the event through the pages of the December 14, 1992 edition. This is from a collection of Snow Week magazines I acquired recently. I used to work for Snow Week and always thought it was a great publication that had a valuable place in the world of snowmobile racing. It’s demise in 2007 (or 2008? not sure) was one of the catalysts for me to start this Web site. An interesting thing to note is while 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the Duluth National Snocross, 1992-93 season marked the 20th anniversary of Snow Week. Hmmm…

Holeshots featured a blurb about Paul Groth's Budweiser Sno-King. Powered by four turbocharged Yamaha V-Max 4 snowmobile engines Groth said the 16-cylinder configuration would make 1,000-horsepower and would be good enough for 200mph.

Another Holeshot blurb noted that riders were happy to hear they would be allowed to use carbide runners and carbide-tipped studs in the upcoming International 500. The race was expected to have 300 entries and had a 100 at the time the issue went to print.

The second page had more of Hibbert as well as Steve Hanson, Brian Sturgeon and Jason Jones. Team Arctic rode ZR580s in the Open class. The ZRs came off the assembly line three days before the race and they were as big a news item as the race itself.

What a great photo of Hibbert working on his sled as Doug Lamm looks on. On his way to two wins that weekend Hibbert was quoted in the story saying he worked on clutching for the holeshot, added stiffer front shock springs and took out some picks and added cleats(!). These days Pro snocross rider have crews who do all this wrenching stuff for them.

A nice shot of some tangled sleds off the start, a ZR and an XCR. In the background the familiar Spirit Mountain chair lift. No tuff blocks, just good old-fashioned haybales.

It was all Polaris and Arctic Cat in the printed results. Hibbert won Pro Open and Pro Lite. Hmmm...

OK, so what else was in that issue? How about this way cool ad for the Thief River 200 sponsored by Pabst (with a $24K payout!).

It looks like Snow Week went to the ISR meeting that year too. Lots of photos of people handing over giant checks. I've been to ISR meetings and none of them were nearly as exciting as this one appears to have been. I never got a giant check either.

Snow Week handed out its 1992 Racer of the Year award at the ISR meeting. Ice racer Gary Vessair was the lucky recipient.

An ad for the International 500 features Jack Struthers and promises a $100K payout (based on 300 race entries). It also looks like the ad features a handy course map for pre-running.

1992-93 was set to have some great racing go down and it would begin the epic battles between Arctic Cat's ZR and Polaris' XCR that would last for nearly a decade. Looking at this schedule it looks like you could go racing pretty much all winter long across multiple racing genres with either one of those sleds.

The back of the paper always had classified ads. Remember, there was no eBay or craigslist back then. Need a used Wahl chassis twin tracker?

Or how about a Pro-5-built Polaris Formula III sled and a van to race it out of?

Looking back on this race 20 years on its amazing how much has changed and yet, at the same time, how little has changed. Familiar names, familiar scenarios, the same drama and anticipation and, of course, the same event.