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2016 AmSnow / Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout

With hot wheels and slick tracks, the fastest drag sleds on Earth set World Records at this annual event
RELATED TOPICS: SHOOTOUT | RACING | SNOWMOBILE RACING
AmSnow Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout asphalt drag racing snowmobile Yamaha Cody Levasseur
Mark Boncher photo
Martin, Mich. – The sleds were as hot as the weather at the 27th Annual AmSnow / Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout in Martin, Mich. It was 80 degrees in the shade all weekend at US 131 Motorsports Park, and the racers were hot to trot as well. The fastest action anywhere is on this track, and on this weekend every year ... and there’s a new world record to prove it!

It didn’t take long for big passes to be laid down on the quarter-mile track. Friday night’s test-and-tune session gave way to Outlaw grudge matches with a cool thousand bucks wagered between racers challenging each other in a heads-up 660-foot dash for cash. This was old school sled racing, heads up and winner take all.

With that, the tone was set for the weekend. Racers’ heads hit their pillows with visions of standing in the Winner’s Circle Saturday evening, a trophy and an oversize check in hand.
AmSnow Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout asphalt drag racing snowmobile
Mark Boncher photo
AmSnow Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout asphalt drag racing snowmobiles
Asphalt dragsters came from all over North America to fill 197 entries in six different classes throught the weekend at US 131 Motorsports Park in Martin, Mich.
Mark Boncher photo
AmSnow Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout asphalt drag racing snowmobile
Mark Boncher photo
Saturday showdowns
Clear blue skies and a slight crosswind greeted the dragsters Saturday morning, and the racing action was equally spectacular.

More than 100 entries (just for Saturday) revved engines of every variety in the pits, warming tracks and pipes and making other preparations for the preliminary rounds of racing.

The majority of racers were in Saturday’s Bracket Class. Each sled and driver took two preliminary runs to establish their elapsed time (E.T.) dial-in number. Racers were then paired on an elimination ladder in a pursuit-style drag race, with the slower dial-in time getting that much advantage (leaving first) from the start line. Opponents try to be the first across the line without “breaking out” (crossing the line quicker than their E.T. dial-in time), which means they lose.

Races are won and lost on the lighting tree in the majority of bracket races. Those with better reaction times when the light goes green are typically rewarded.
Saturday’s Bracket Class started with a whopping 69 entrants. By the time we had whittled the competition down to its final two racers, the sun had set and we were racing under the lights. The last two standing for the final after all the rounds were completed were two-time Shootout winner (and AmSnow Test Rider) Butch Veltum and long-time dragger Chris Rybicki. The two had half-jokingly agreed to meet in the finals while waiting in the staging lanes during earlier qualifying rounds.

Things have a funny way of working out. Seconds after the lights went green, it was Rybicki and his 2001 Arctic Cat claiming his first AmSnow Super Sled Shootout win with a quarter-mile time of 9.651 seconds, just one-thousandth off his dial-in time of 9.650. Just 19 inches separated the two drivers and their sleds when they broke the line.

An ecstatic Rybicki pulled into the Winner’s Circle to claim his spoils. When asked about his win, he was in disbelief that the agreement he and Veltum made earlier in the day had come to fruition.

“Butch has been one of my heroes out here for a long time,” Rybicki said. “That guy can really race!”

The win was well earned by Rybicki, as he had one of the most consistent sleds throughout the day, even as temps cooled in the evening and made the track more unpredictable.

Saturday’s Pro Index class featured 22 sleds. When the final two sleds crossed the line, Greg Chandler of Traverse City, Mich., was left holding the winner’s check. The win was a nice addition to Chandler’s already successful asphalt drag season. He and his 2014 Arctic Cat ZR also took second place in the MSADRA circuit season points. He did it all on a sled that pulls double duty. After the asphalt season ends, Chandler’s ride gets a track swap so it’s ready for the trails when the snow flies.
AmSnow Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout asphalt drag racing snowmobile Billy Howard
Mark Boncher photo
AmSnow Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout asphalt drag racing snowmobile Tiina Duncanson
Mark Boncher photo
AmSnow Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout asphalt drag racing snowmobile Kelly Shilts
Dozens of big names from the East (Billy Howard, top), Canada (Tiina Duncanson, middle), and the Midwest (Kelly Shilts, bottom) all come together here for what
many call the Super Bowl of drag racing.
Mark Boncher photo
The big guns
There was plenty of cash up for grabs in the big motor classes on Saturday as well. Fourteen Pro Stock racers were after $2,000, while a dozen big Outlaw sleds were chasing a $5,000 payday down the track.

The Pro Stock class pitted four heavy hitters in the semifinals, as Tiina Duncanson faced off with Glen Hall, and Matt Ernst went against Louie Wirbell. It was Wirbell and Duncanson advancing to the finals, and once there, Wirbell took the win with an E.T. of 8.24 seconds at 154.48 mph. It was Louie’s first AmSnow win as a driver, and he had his Pro Line-sponsored Ski-Doo Mach Z dialed all day. Louie’s son, Edwin, has won at the AmSnow Shootout several times before, but Louie showed he can get the job done too!

“We’ve been in the finals here before, and found just about every imaginable way not to win,” said Wirbell. “It’s nice to finally end one with a win,” he added.

When the Outlaw class sleds take the track, it’s always a little eye-popping. Sometimes that’s due to the performance, and sometimes it’s due to spectacular color schemes and paint jobs. Other times, it’s simply the sound of these huge turbo sleds as they get ready to fly. Either way, the show is as exciting as it gets!

It was the performance of Cody Levasseur and his Yamaha Outlaw that grabbed everyone’s attention. He laid down a 1,000-foot pass in 6.20 seconds at 170 mph early in the day, and that run served to put the rest of the Outlaw racers on notice.

Times and speeds slowed slightly as lower evening temps cooled the track, but Levasseur would not be turned away. He bested Canadian Rob Lowe, winning with a 6.55-second E.T. at 153.95 mph.

Levasseur, an Ontario native, also runs his One Stop Performance-powered 4-cylinder turbo in the North Bay Snow Speed Runs. His crew came with every intention of bringing home hardware. There was little doubt the fastest sled won on this day.

Sunday’s a new day
Sunday arrived with more of the same – great weather and fast racing. Dozens of bracket racers were back for their shot at the prizes, as were most of the Outlaw class racers.

Sunday brought new challenges for the racers, as each class was shortened to 1/8-mile, and the Bracket class was started on a pro tree light rather than the typical sportsman light. The light change was definitely a curveball for many in the Bracket class, but it created a wide-open competition throughout the day.
AmSnow Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout asphalt drag racing snowmobile kid spectator
Loud noises! Yep, and young and old love it! There’s no decibel restriction on the track, and ear protection is strongly encouraged whether you’re in the stands or walking the pits. Just like our spectators, the sleds and drivers span the spectrum of newbies to veterans!
Mark Boncher photo
AmSnow Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout asphalt drag racing snowmobiles
Mark Boncher photo
Justin Prevost from Chelmsford, Ontario, was on the light and tight with his dial-in number all day. That consistency earned him a bye through the semifinals to the Bracket finals.

In the other semifinal, Marvin Kelly had his hands full competing with the famous Billy Howard of Team Howard’s. In one of the tightest races of the weekend, Kelly edged Howard out by inches.

When the finals came around, a launch button failure on Prevost’s sled caused him to red light at the start, and the Sunday Bracket class win was all Kelly’s from the start.

Kelly’s 2001 Polaris 800 XCR was a perfect example of a real regular racer at its finest. You won’t find any sponsor stickers on Kelly’s sled. That’s because he has only one: his own Greenford Tractor Sales company. There are no fancy performance-adding parts; his XCR is bone stock.

The most intriguing fact about Kelly’s sled is that in its 17-year existence, it’s never touched snow. He bought the sled brand new and took it out of the crate with his only intentions being asphalt racing. Every single one of the sled’s 994 miles has been collected on the track. That’s a lot of passes down the ¼-mile!

Sunday’s Outlaw semifinals saw major racing credentials toe the line. Last year, a Shilts (Kyle) won Sunday’s Outlaw class with a world record E.T. This year, another Shilts (Kelly) – yes, they are related – earned a bye through the semifinals, where he awaited the winner between straight-line racing legend Glen Hall and the always dangerous Todd Serra.

Serra’s semifinal run of 4.68 seconds at 155.82 mph bested Hall’s 5.00, and also broke Kyle Shilts’ world-record E.T. of 4.699 set at this event last year. Serra was through to face Kelly Shilts in the finals. Serra’s Pro-Stock Inc. all-black “Diablo” snowmobile was still up to world-record par to take the win with a pass of 4.658 seconds at 156.63 mph, setting a new world-record E.T. for the second time in as many passes. The win was a long time coming for Serra and his hard working Pro Stock Inc. crew.

With that win, Serra put an exclamation point on another memorable year at the AmSnow / Aeroquip Super Sled Shootout. A quick survey of teams in attendance will tell you that Race Director Jamie Bellman puts on the Super Bowl of summer snowmobile drag racing. Maybe that’s why no one ever says, “Goodbye,” at the end of the weekend. On your way out, the only thing you’ll hear is “We’ll see you next year!”
Mark Boncher photo
Saturday's Pro Stock winner Louie Wirbell and his ProLine crew finished with an E.T. of 8.24 sec.
Race Circuits Represented at AmSnow Shootout
At the AmSnow Super Sled Shootout, there are always numerous race circuits represented. Some have come and gone, but the MSADRA actually had their own final races at the track on Friday evening and the new Outlaw circuit OSDRA was well represented as well. You can find them both on Facebook.
AmSnow Super Sled Shootout logo
EVENT SPONSORS

TITLE SPONSOR: Aeroquip Performance Products  

PRESENTING SPONSOR: American Snowmobiler Magazine

TRACK: US 131 Motorsports Park

PRO LEVEL SPONSORS:
  • Auto Park Automotive Group
  • MAG 1 petroleum products
  • Northern Energy / Bronco Oil Co.
  • Richmond Master Distributors - VIP suite sponsor
  • S. Abraham and Sons, Inc. - wholesale food distributor
  • Zeigler Motorsports - transportation sponsor
  • Kenneth Smith Inc
  • VP Racing Fuels
  • BP Oil - North America
  • Bellman Oil Company
  • Camso
  • Pro-Stock Inc.
  • Wahl Bros. Racing
  • ProTemp Mechanical
  • Lincolnway Mart BP
  • Marc and Michael Fricke - Commercial Snow
  • Keith Wood Family - Woody’s Performance Yamaha
  • Dick’s Racing
  • Jason Iras - That Guy Racing
  • BRP / Ski-Doo Snowmobiles
  • Yamaha Snowmobiles - North America
  • Arctic Cat Snowmobiles
  • Polaris Industries
CLASS TITLE SPONSORS:
  • Saturday Bracket - Woody’s Traction Products
  • Pro Stock - Supreme Tool Inc.
  • Pro Index - Proline Performance
  • Outlaw 1000 - Kenneth Smith Inc. / Mott Motorsports
  • Sunday Bracket - NIX Contracting
  • Outlaw 1/8-mile - Pro-4 Performance / OSDRA (Mark Kondziola and Dennis Mott)
ASSOCIATE LEVEL SPONSORS:
  • Matt Melling
  • Ed Illgen
  • Paul Austin
  • Dunn Performance
  • Mark Wakem
  • Hagen Racing
  • Bondi Engines
  • Pete and Tiina Duncanson - That Girl Racing
  • Hypersports
  • Mike Rorabacher
  • Queenan Brothers Racing
  • The Crank Shop
  • Super Sled Online - Chris Riley
SUPER CREW:
Jamie Bellman - Race Director; Rich Stumpf - Technical Director; Maureen Gentner - Registration Director; Corrie LoPresto - Asst. Registration / Retail Sales; Chris Riley - Announcer / Media Relations; Mark Boncher / Ross Halvorson - American Snowmobiler Staff / Photography; US 131 Motorsports Park Staff - Jason Peterson, Jay Gilman and the entire staff at “The Fastest Track in Michigan”
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