2017 Snowmobile Racing News

What's new for the 2016-17 race season? We'll steer you through all the changes!
Change is the norm on the race scene. No matter your racing type of choice, there’s always something different greeting riders and their teams each season. In order to keep our readers “in the know,” we took a look at some of the major race organizations around North America and found out what’s new for the 2016-17 race season.

One ski racing
Snow bikes make their official debut on several ISR-regulated circuits this season. Race series seem convinced the new snow bike classes will attract new racers and fans.
snow bike racing RMSHA hillclimb 440
The natural habitat for these dirt bike conversions is the mountains. So it shouldn’t surprise anyone that the RMSHA hillclimb circuit is adding them to their agenda this year. The fact that they’ll be in competition at this year’s X Games in Aspen, Colo. (Jan. 26-29, 2017), isn’t all that surprising either. But the mountain-focused nature of these machines hasn’t stopped manufacturers (like Arctic Cat and Polaris/Timbersled) from creating snow bike vehicles that they hope will meet legal trail requirements across North America.

What MAY come as a surprise to some is the addition of snow bikes to race circuits primarily run throughout the Midwest and eastern part of the country. Many cross-country races take place on some portion of Midwest trail systems, where snow bikes are currently not permitted, but we feel dedicated race-courses (even if they utilize what is normally a trail system when not cordoned off by racing) shouldn’t apply to that rule. 

COR Powersports
will have snow bike racing at all their cross country race events, Midwest Extreme Snowmobile Challenge (MESC) events throughout the 2017 season will have them too. The USXC series does not have snow bikes competing, however. That circuit requires racers to have a trail pass for their sled, and snow bikes are not eligible for a trail pass at the majority of USXC race venues. 

Snow bikes will also be a new class in the ISOC Snocross circuit this season. We know several top racers, such as Tucker Hibbert and Tim Tremblay, like to try their hand at motocross in the off-season. Will we see any of the top Pro Open contenders riding bikes on the snow this season? We hope so!
AMSOIL ISOC National Snocross 177 Jake Angove Pro Lite
ISOC Snocross racers will be putting a few more miles on their race rigs this season with stops in Colorado and Iowa. Rounds 13 and 14 will be the first ISOC races hosted by the state of Iowa.
New locations for ISOC Snocross series
Two new venues are on the docket for the 2016-17 Snocross season. Racers will head west of South Dakota’s Black Hills for Rounds 3 and 4, to be held in Winter Park, Colo. (Dec. 16-17). It’s the first time the series will be at the base of the Rockies since the 2010-11 season, when Sandy, Utah, hosted a weekend of racing. 

Also new to the schedule this year is Dubuque, Iowa, hosting Rounds 15 and 16 (March 3-4, 2017). This will be the first ISOC Snocross event hosted by the state of Iowa, and both the state and the series are equally excited. 

When asked about the two new venues, ISOC Social Media Coordinator Miranda Hopp said, “The motivation was really because both of the locations are snowmobile markets, and as a series we have always wanted to spread farther out west and further our footprint. So far, both locations have been well received.”

The two new locations replace Route 66 Raceway (just outside of Chicago) and Glyndon, Minn., on the schedule.

New team, new approach
Three is considered a crowd many places, but the race course is not one of those places – at least not for the boys in the Shepherd Racing trailer. 

Toby Shepherd, Cody Bahny and Riley Sprunger all met while racing independently in the RMSHA hillclimb circuit four years ago. They competed against each other in many of the same classes. People who race against one another often end up forming a bond, and that happened for these three guys. The bond they share has manifested itself in the form of a new race team for the 2017 hillclimb season.
Toby Shepherd RMSHA snowmobile hillclimb racing
Teamwork plays a big part in success. Toby Shepherd (above), Cody Bahny (below), and Riley Sprunger all hope their team approach will take them to new high marks on the hill.
Cody Bahny RMSHA snowmobile hillclimb racing
Toby Shepherd Cody Bahny RMSHA snowmobile hillclimb racing
“We’ve been racing together the last couple seasons, we ride a lot together, it just made sense to help each other out,” said Toby Shepherd, the team’s most experienced racer at age 25. “I guess you could call this our first official year as a team, but we’ve really been operating that way the last couple years anyhow,” he added.

The team approach has helped the trio overcome some of the hurdles solo racers face when they’re trying to establish themselves on the race circuit. Anyone will tell you there is a large cost associated with racing in any circuit, from ice drags to hillclimbs and everything in between. Forming the Shepherd Racing team allowed the three to pool their resources, both financially and from an experience standpoint. 

“Working together has enabled us to do some things that we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own, like buy practice equipment,” Shepherd said. “But it’s more than that. We’re able to help each other out with information on race courses, input during practice and with sponsorships.”

Sponsors are necessary to compete at the top level of just about every racing venue, be it on snow or otherwise. In some cases, potential sponsors find a team more appealing than an individual asking for race assistance, but not always. A small team like Shepherd Racing can offer potential sponsors the best of both worlds. 

The three have noticed performance gains on the track as well since they started riding together. Practice sessions foster a fairly competitive, yet cooperative environment amongst the team. 

“We definitely push each other to be faster, but the thing that helps the most is the sharing of information,” said Shepherd. “We can watch each other’s runs and can tell a guy where he’s fast or slow on the course, along with helping one another with suspension setups or clutch testing.”

Pooling their resources for things like travel expenses not only saves money, but “ups the fun factor as well,” according to Shepherd. 

Travel isn’t the only area where savings to the bottom line comes into play. The trio races many of the same classes, and because the RMSHA only allows for one racer on the course at a time, the three are able to share sleds with minimal wrenching between runs. 

“That type of situation might not be ideal for everyone, but it works well for us,” Shepherd said.

When asked if he’d recommend this type of team approach to someone looking to get into racing, Shepherd shied away from saying this was the way to go for everyone. But he did note that there are some definite advantages.

“The best way to get into racing is just to talk to someone who’s already involved and gain as much knowledge as possible on the discipline you’re racing,” Shepherd said.
Northeast Snowmobile Racing NESR ice drags
The Northeast Snowmobile Racing circuit will be home to many of the fastest sleds in the region. If you follow the area’s grass drag scene, you should recognize a few helmets!
Northeast Snowmobile Racing NESR ice drags
Northeast Snowmobile Racing NESR ice drags
More ice drags for the Northeast!
Ice draggers in the eastern part of North America will have a new outlet to fulfill their need for speed. Northeast Snowmobile Racing (NESR) makes its debut early in 2017 with a full schedule of races that run nearly every weekend from Jan. 6 to April 8, 2017. 

“Ice and snow drag racing has been pretty much dead out here for about the last 10 years compared to what is used to be,” said organizer Chris McDonald.

Home base for this series is Old Forge, N.Y. – home of the AmSnow / Dynotech Research New York Shootout, one of the  big events still flourishing here - but this is a snowmobiling mecca! It makes sense for a snowmobiling hotbed like Old Forge to have a full series for ice and snow drag racers to call their own.

Dragsters from this area of the country have been craving a series like this in their own back yard. The goal is to make this series the biggest baddest series of sled racing in the Northeast, and it’s the only series in New York or surrounding states to offer this level of clean competition.

Each event will feature lanes for ice drags and a groomed track for snow drags. The region’s best racers and fastest sleds will make up eight classes for both the snow and ice tracks every race weekend.

Turnout is expected to be high in terms of both racers and spectators.

“Many of the guys committed to racing this series are grass drag racers in the fall,” explained McDonald. “These guys all want to race more than a handfull of weekends, and it doesn’t take much to get their sleds ready for the ice or snow,” he added.

This area of upstate New York is known for bountiful amounts of snowfall most seasons. Spectators should be able to ride their sleds right to most of the races throughout the winter.

Once they get to the event, snowmobile race fans will be treated to a day of fast, clean racing governed by clearly defined class rules.

“You better have one seriously fast sled if you think you’re going to come out and win one of these races,” McDonald said. 

Races will be held throughout the state of New York. The series includes three races that are part of the Northeast Ice Outlaw series. Big guns from all over the east coast will be in attendance. 

A full schedule of dates and locations can be found on the NESR website.
600 is better than 500
For several seasons, USXC has tried to recreate the legendary Winnipeg-to-St. Paul I-500 race. Moving the race’s finish line to Willmar, Minn., (100 miles west of St. Paul) made it easier to find a rideable route for the race. Mother Nature has not cooperated, though, and the race was cancelled due to lack of snow in 2015 and 2016.

For 2017, the race has been changed to the I-600 (Feb. 8-11, 2017), and it’s now a 4-day race as it was back in the day when it ran from Winnipeg to St. Paul. The race starts at the southern edge of Winnipeg, where racers ride road ditches to the U.S.-Canadian border on Day 1. From there, it’s more miles of ditches, trails, lakes and rivers over the next three days.

The race name was changed to the I-600 for a couple of reasons. According to USXC owner Brian Nelson, the name helps distinguish between the USXC cross country race and the Soo I-500 ice oval race held in Sault Ste. Marie each season. Plus, when you add up all the miles covered in the USXC race, it’s actually closer to 600 miles than 500. So it’s hard to argue with changing the name to the Winnipeg-to-Willmar I-600.
East Coast Snocross ECS logo
East Coast Snocross goes live!
East Coast Snocross fans now have a new outlet to view their favorite racers in action. The ECS announced that Conx2share was named the series’ title sponsor for the next three seasons.

Going forward, the series will be known as ECS Conx2share Series, presented by Woody’s Traction and FXR World Class Outerwear.

“This is exciting news that a lot of people have been waiting to hear for a few years,” ECS series owner Kurt Gagne said. “Conx2share gives ECS a worldwide reach. They have a great app for all Android or iPhone mobile devices, so all of our races can be seen Live on any smartphone, tablet or computer.  

Conx2share will provide full mobile live stream coverage of every ECS event this season. All fans have to do is download the Conx2share app on their mobile devices. Once downloaded, the app will open on the “Discover” tab of the menu. Just tap “Groups” to search for “East Coast Snocross.” 

Once you’ve followed the East Coast Snocross group, you can purchase ECS products directly from your phone using Conx2share’s e-shopping feature. 

Since its launch in February 2015, Conx2share has become one of the most popular digital communications apps in North America. The app has been used to bring other snocross events to viewers, such as last season’s Canadian Snowcross Racing Association series. More info: www.conx2share.com
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