Park X, 2003

A few days ago I found myself going through old snocross photos. Fans and racers may remember Park X hosted a couple National snocross races, the first in December 2003. This was the third of 11 events on the WSA National schedule in 2003-2004, coming after Duluth and Winnipeg. Scroll on an sledRacer fires up the Wayback Machine.

Yes, that's Kirk Hibbert, racing Semi-Pro and leading the pack up the hill.

 

Jeff Gruhlke was a force in Semi-Pro in 2003-2004. He finished second in Pro Open points and nearly won Pro Open at Canterbury but got passed by Ryan Simons on the last lap.

Speaking of Ryan Simons, he had moved from the Olah Racing team to the Engelstad rig and raced Semi-Pro Open and Pro Stock. Paul Engelstad is now part of Tucker Hibbert's crew and Hibbert's race trailer is the old Engelstad rig.

The 602 is Dan Ebert, racing the Sport class.

D.J. Eckstrom finished on the podium nine times in '03-'04 and finished third in Pro Open and fourth in Pro Stock points.

Speaking of Engelstad, this is Alex Engelstad. He was a force in the Sport classes but decided to quit snocross and race cars. That's a new and totally green Colorado Rob with the mic.

This guy showed up with one of the T&S Racing mods from 2001. I wonder where all these sleds went? I'd sure like to have one.

I found a string of photos from the Pro Vet class that reads like a who's who of snowmobile racing. No. 60 is Scott Davis. Scott and Cory would come down for a few races each year.

People who know Dan Benham wouldn't be surprised to hear he gave the likes of Hibbert, Strege, Davis, Reimer and Engelstad a run for their money in Pro Vet that day.

Andrew Johnstad racing Sport. He's a Pro now.

Brett Bender racing Sport. He's a Pro now too.

Kylie Abrahamson used to race Sport against the boys. See the two numbers? She shared a sled with her brother Brett.

Brett Turcotte was riding Sport for Blair Morgan Racing. Park X was one of a handful of races he was at that year.

Semi-Pro Open final, r-l: Schultz, Malinoski, Simons, ?, Christensen, Gruhlke, Bauerly, Hentges, Olson. The question mark is a Warnert Racing rider, not sure who. Could be Jeff Arsenault.

Robbie Malinoski and Brian Sturgeon. The bald guy behind him is Brad Olah, his team owner.

Aaron Christensen was racing Semi-Pro Open and Pro Stock, seen here. He had changed his number from 137 to 10. He saved his sled from a yard sale off the big double at Winter X that year during practice - I still call that one of the best pieces of riding I ever saw.

After Tucker Hibbert left, Shaun Crapo was signed away from Polaris to run out of the Team Arctic rig. By mid-season he had three wins and the points lead in Pro Stock, but back pain led to a visit to the doctor just prior to Winter X. The diagnosis? A bulging disc that was close to his spinal cord ended his season.

Scott Vig takes a digger at the bottom of the hill. Scott and mechanic Rob Schatzle made a great team.

T.J. Gulla was brought on board with Team when a wrist injury sidelined Levi LaVallee at Duluth. He earned a call back the next year after he took two seconds and was leading the Pro Stock final at Valcourt before his sled broke. At that point I thought Gulla was jinxed. Since when do Bender-prepped sleds fail?

Zach Pattyn made a few WSA races in 2003-2004. At Park X he was with Zelinskis and shared a sled with Josh Zelinski.

After being plucked from Ski-Doo by Steve Scheuring to fill in for D.J. Eckstrom the season before, Ross Martin was once again a privateer, only this time on Polaris. By season's end he had a backdoor support program with Polaris via Judnick Motorsports. The rest is history.

In his early days, Levi LaVallee was the center of a lot of drama. At Park X he had an on-track run-in with Steve Martin that led to a confrontation with Martin's mechanic Chad Kyllo (white shirt) and his former mechanic Ron Verly (in sunglasses). Verly was C.W. Sirjane's mechanic that season, but C-dub missed a few races after breaking his foot at Duluth. My question is, who is the guy sippin' the 40?

The dynamic duo, Blair Morgan and Carl Kuster discuss the uphill run before the Pro Open final. Morgan was coming off a broken back and broken leg sustained in Motocross. Morgan won Pro Open that day and went on to win six more races and both points championships. That's why they call him Superman.

A month after Park X Mike Island would win the Gold Medal at Winter X. He won Pro Open at Syracuse and Geneva and finished second in points. His mechanic was Tony Swiontek, the guy who now wrenches for Ross Martin.

 

sledRacer.com Cross-Country Rider Rankings

Cody Kallock is an up-and-coming Pro on the USCC cross-country circuit.

Cross-country is the purest form of snowmobile racing. In any given cross-country race there is a myriad of factors that come into play that can make or break a rider. At any given race a rider may have to face ditches, woods, roads, rivers, lakes or trails as well as Mother Nature. A sled has to be set up to so it can handle all of these elements and a rider has to be ready to navigate each section of course as fast and efficient as possible while preserving himself (or herself) and the machine. Part racer, part mechanic and highly-intelligent, the cross-country racer is the epitome of a snowmobile racer. The 2011 sledRacer.com Cross-Country Rider Rankings take all of this into account.

Before we hit the Top 10, an honorable mention: As a rookie Pro last season Cody Kallock finished seventh in Pro 600 points and had a season of solid finishes after dominating the Semi-Pro classes in 2009. Watch for Kallock to keep improving and pressure some of the veteran Pros.

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sledRacer.com Does The Duluth National

The Duluth track sent riders around the track clockwise instead of counter-clockwise as in years past.

What a difference a year makes. Last year the Duluth National Snocross was delayed because temperatures leading up to the race were too warm to make enough snow. This year? The snow piles were so high the crowd had trouble seeing over them. Plus, the Duluth area had at least 6-8 inches of natural snowfall leading up to the race. It made for a white thanksgiving as well as for a really sweet race weekend.

We spent two days at Duluth prowling the pits and checking out the racing. The way Duluth goes you could spent a week there and not see and do everything, but here are a bunch of photos that we hope will make you feel like you were there. Read on as sledRacer takes you on a journey to the Duluth National Snocross.

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Pro Snowmobile Racers To Appear At SleddinXpo

Pro racer Ryan Simons will sign autographs at the SleddinXpo Dec. 4.

Professional snowmobile racers from the world of snocross, cross-country and vintage SnoPro will be appearing at the second annual SleddinXpo 2010 on Saturday, December 4, at Scheels Arena in Fargo, North Dakota. The show brings together local and regional snowmobile racing circuits, trail clubs, snowmobile dealers, vendors and related industry supporters for a kick-off of the 2010-2011 snowmobile season.

The “Celebrity Sledder Meet and Greet” will take place from 5pm-6pm and will include Pro racers Ryan Simons, who was recently invited to be a part of ESPN’s 2011 Winter X Games and is also a major contender in the National snocross series. Other Pro National racers appearing will include Garth Kaufman, Zach Pattyn, Women’s Pro snocross racer Carly Davis and up and Pro National racer Logan Christian. To view the entire SleddinXpo press release including dates, times and admission click here.

Winter X Games 15 Pre-Selected Athletes

Winter X Games 15 Snocross: Brett Bender is in.

Winter X Games 15 is coming up this January 27-30 in Aspen, Colorado. There will be five snowmobile events: Adaptive Snocross, Best Trick, Freestyle, Snocross, Speed & Style. A bunch of riders have already been pre-selected and they include:

Adaptive Snocross

Doug Henry

Jim Wazny

Jeff Tweet

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sledRacer.com Interview: Mike Kloety

Team Arctic Race Manager Mike Kloety has been with the race department at Arctic Cat since 1994.

Editor’s note: The last of our interviews with the OEM Race Managers, we sit down with Mike Kloety from Arctic Cat.

If you catch Mike Kloety at a cross-country race he’ll most likely have a stopwatch in his hand, timing the laps his racers are running. It’s indicative of everything Kloety does – methodical and well-thought out with solid results. He watches over Team Arctic like a mother hen, handling the program with his calm, even-handed demeanor. Kloety took over the program from interim Race Manager Russ Ebert in 2008. It was a race program that had run on some rocky times when it lost Blair Morgan to Ski-Doo in 2001, Tucker Hibbert to motocross in 2003, fielded problematic race sleds in 2002-2003 and had some internal management problems with the program. Now entering his third year as Team Arctic Race Manger, Kloety has helped steer the program back to succes, leading it to one of its most successful seasons ever last year. On the brink of the 2010-2011 season, we sat down with Kloety to talk about winning two 500s, track failures and what the one thing about Team Arctic is he wouldn’t trade for anything.

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