Saturday, November 5, 2011

ECS announces new Rookie of the Year program

         Everybody knows that young snowmobile racers are a competitive bunch, always trying to outdo each other in qualifying, finals and just about everything else they do both on and off the track.
Officials at East Coast Snocross (ECS) have created a “race within a race” for first-year riders in the Pro division, as the new ECS Rookie of the Year (ROTY) program is initiated. The top rookie (combining points from Stock and Open) will receive a cash purse at season’s end, while the top Pro rider earning the most points overall will also earn a cash purse.
The fine folks at Island Water Sports and Malibu Boats have already committed to sponsoring these new purses, and invite all other ECS affiliate sponsors to participate. ECS officials will put all funds raised from affiliate sponsors towards these new year-end cash purses. Racing sleds can be expensive, so these new purses will help teams a great deal.
What makes the timing perfect for this program is the number of former Semi-Pro (now known as Pro Lite) class riders making the step up to Pro for 2011-12. Riders like 2011 Semi-Pro champion Jacob Muller, Vermont standout Chris Ackerman and Michael George of Pine Plains, New York, will all be battling for positions on the track to win the inaugural ECS ROTY title.
At every ECS points race, eligible riders will earn points towards the overall ROTY title in both the Pro Stock and Pro Open classes. The highest finishing rookie in each Pro final will earn 25 points, while the second highest finishing rookie will earn 20 points. The third highest finishing rookie will receive 15 points, with fourth and fifth getting 10 and five respectively.
At the end of the year, the rider with the highest combined (Stock and Open) point tally (or in other words, the one with the highest average finish throughout the season) will be crowned “2012 ECS Pro Rookie of the Year.” Along with the cash purse after the last race, the winner will also receive a prize package of goodies from various ECS product sponsors.
For many years, prominent sanctioning bodies in auto racing have implemented programs of this nature to showcase rising talent. Among all snocross riders, those who’ve just made the move to Pro are exciting to watch as they work to earn respect from the veterans. With this new rookie program, these “young guns” will also battle for bragging rights among themselves.
It all kicks off when ECS launches its second season Dec. 10-11 at the beautiful Burke Mountain Ski Resort in East Burke, Vermont. Several riders within the ECS fraternity will jump-start their season on Thanksgiving weekend, as they travel to Duluth, Minnesota for the mighty AMSOIL Duluth National. Riders look to shake off the cobwebs and get back into a rhythm, while mechanics strive to dial in new sleds and find that sweet setup to go fast.
East Coast Snocross, presented by Woody’s Traction and AMSOIL, is the new sanctioning body for snowmobile racing in the northeastern United States. ECS maintains a regional circuit intended to keep grass-roots snocross racing healthy in this part of the snowbelt, while also cultivating new talent for tomorrow’s factory-backed Pro teams.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

ECS Reflections: Ackerman, George on the fast track

As we approach the 2011-12 snocross season, I find myself reflecting on all the changes this sport has endured in the last decade. Sleds have advanced by leaps and bounds, riders that were stars in 2001 are long gone and have been replaced at the top by a fresh crop of talent.

Among the list of rising stars are two longtime veterans of northeastern regional snocross competition who now find themselves in an interesting position — as the Pro division riders for one of the most respected teams in the pit area.

I’m referring to Chris Ackerman, of Jericho, VT, and Mike George, of Pine Plains, New York. As the East Coast Snocross (ECS) circuit prepares for its second season, Ackerman and George are gearing up to compete in the Pro classes for Ingles Performance, based in Phoenix, New York.

It’s no secret that Robin & Mike Ingles run a solid organization, are well-connected with Ski-doo and have vast knowledge of how a successful team is run. Last winter, Quebec native Mathieu Morin won both the Pro Stock and Open titles aboard Ski-doo sleds fielded by Ingles Performance. Morin has since signed with BOSS Racing to compete on the ISOC circuit.

For Ackerman, who also operates 139 Designs and does a fabulous job with graphics, the chance to join this prestigious team was pretty much a no-brainer. When another deal he was pursuing turned out to be far less lucrative than it appeared, he wisely called Ingles to accept their offer.

“I’m more than excited about racing for the Ingles team this season,” the Vermont native said via telephone Sunday night on his way back from Hay Days. “They have a rock-solid team with a proven track record.”

Ackerman rode an Arctic Cat in ECS Semi-Pro classes (now known as Pro Lite) last winter for Nate Tatro’s Green Mountain Racing squad, and ran a Polaris prior to that. The 2011-12 season will be his first aboard a Ski-doo, but he doesn’t seem too worried about the transition. He had several great runs last season en route to second overall in points behind champion Jacob Muller.

“Even though I’ve never raced one before, I love Ski-doo’s new 600RS and feel I can adapt to it pretty quickly. It’s got tons of power and a world-class suspension, so I can’t wait to hit the throttle and see that green flag. I’ll be gunning to make both Ski-doo and my team owners proud on the ECS circuit this winter.”

George has been at this sport since the age of 10 when he first jumped onto a 380cc fan-cooled machine. Out most of last season with a torn ACL, the gifted young athlete is fully healed and ready to get back on the sleds.

“It was frustrating siting out so much of last season after the injury,” George said. “Yet it gave me new perspective, it made me appreciate my involvement in snocross and gives me new incentive to excel this coming winter. Racing for Ingles and Ski-doo is an honor, I’ve been training since early August and will be striving for solid finishes from Burke Mountain to Pico.”

And so, these two young yet highly experienced racers will head back to the gym Monday with a sense of dedication, a sense of pride. You can hear it clearly in their voices — they’ll put pressure on themselves to run well all season, because they take this sport so seriously. I admire their skills and commitment, so let’s wish them both good luck and success in the new season.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

First Look: 2012 Factory Race Sleds

Every year as the mighty Hay Days rolls around out in Minnesota, those of us who live for snowmobiles and snocross starting frothing at the gills for pictures of the new sleds.

For 2011-12, all three of the major manufacturers that actively participate in snocross have released what are arguably the most technically advanced machines ever produced.  Ready to hit the tracks this winter are:

From Ski-doo, the beautiful 600RS with its REV XP chassis and Rotax engine. You can bet pilots like Renaud Alexandre, Michael George and Chris Ackerman will be rocket-fast on these gems. The folks at Polaris have unveiled their sexy new buggy - a red, white and blue 600R number that is sure to have guys like Ross Martin rarin' to go.

Yet without question the most anticipated snowmobile in recent history was uncrated at Hay Days today - the mighty Arctic Cat Sno Pro 600. Green on one side, white on the other, and built on the all-new and MUCH lighter, repeat - slimmed down big-time, ProCross chassis. I can guarantee that the big dogs racing Cats here in the East (Matt Piche, for one) are super-stoked to go racing aboard this smokin' new Cat.

And so, I'll post photos stolen from various locations of these gorgeous new beauties for others to enjoy. My first up-close look at these machines will be October 7-8 in Fremont, N.H., at the famed NHSA Grass Drags and Watercross.

I'm sure ECS will have a booth there - so stop by and say "hey."  And be SURE to grab a schedule for the 2011-12 season - it's gonna be huge!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Excitement starting to build for 2011-2012 ECS season

While summer’s heat may be at its peak, a loud buzz is already building within snocross circles as plans for the 2011-2012 season begin to take shape.
For teams and riders within the East Coast Snocross (ECS) series, summer is when plans are made and new sleds are ordered. The month of July has already produced some big news, and more pieces of the 2012 puzzle will start falling into place on a weekly basis.
Headlining the off-season news is the announcement that 2011 ECS Pro champion Mathieu Morin has signed with Winnipeg-based BOSS Racing to compete on the International Series of Champions (ISOC) circuit. This swings the doors wide open for a new champion at ECS, with several skilled athletes lining up to take Morin’s place atop the mountain.
One of the big guns looking to claim those titles is Lake Shore, Minnesota, native Matt Piche. The veteran rider with national experience raced a Polaris for Hulten Speed Sports (HSS) last season, but will now pilot Arctic Cat sleds for Nate Tatro’s Green Mountain Racing squad.  Piche is lightning-fast and silky-smooth on any brand of sled, so look for him to adapt to Arctic Cat’s mighty Sno Pro 600 with ease.
Another athlete with national experience returning to regional action this season is Quebec veteran Renaud Alexandre. The 21-year-old Val-D’Or native competed as a privateer on the ISOC circuit last winter, but is now a member of the high-profile Quebec-based Damexco Racing team. Alexandre has ridden Polaris the last four years, but returns to his roots at Ski-doo for 2012.
“I’m really excited to be part of Damexco Racing and am anxious to ride Ski-doo’s new race sled,” Alexandre said. ”I had surgery on my knee last Spring, but was able to start training again in early July. I think running ISOC last winter helped raise my intensity level, I plan to race at that level from the moment we go green. I’m also very excited to be running the new ECS series, I know the competition will be tough, but with more training, fast sleds and a great team, I’ll be ready for the challenge.”
Alexandre will compete in the Pro classes, while teammate Lucas Brunelle will race in the new Pro Lite class (formerly known as Semi-Pro).
Going into their inaugural season, nobody at East Coast Snocross could have predicted a rookie performance in the Pro division like the one put forth by Corin Todd. After riding BRP/Ski-doo products his entire career, the gifted athlete from Otego, NY, switched to Arctic Cat last season at the same time he advanced to Pro.
Most thought the challenge would be too great, yet Todd felt otherwise. He landed on the podium his first time out at Vermont's Burke Mountain Ski Resort, then astounded the most seasoned of fans as he went wire-to-wire and held off Morin to win the 25-lap Pro Stock final in Ossipee, New Hampshire, just two races later.
After finishing third in Pro Stock points and fifth in Open (he didn’t even have a Mod motor until Salem, NH) last year, Todd will return to ECS competition in 2011-12 as a member of Camara Slate Racing and will be riding Arctic Cat sleds. Todd’s teammates will include Chris Ackerman (Pro) and Jesse James Bonaduce, who will compete against Brunelle and many others in the new Pro Lite class.
While most talk in snocross centers around the Pro and Pro Lite riders, the importance of Junior classes is not to be overlooked. This is where the next stars of the sport hone their skills, and starting in 2011-12, many of them will do so aboard an exciting new sled. Arctic Cat has released its new Sno Pro 500 model that will be utilized for a number of Junior classes.
As for the 2011-2012 ECS schedule, that too, is starting to take shape. For its second season, the sanctioning body will once again present eight or nine points races, hosted at a mix of existing and new sites. While negotiations are still being finalized, six events are already locked in starting with the season opener in East Burke, VT (Dec. 11-12); Plattsburgh, NY (January 2012 TBA); Boonville, NY (with ice ovals, Jan. 27-29); Farmington, NY (Feb. 4-5, w/ISOC); Findley Lake, NY (March 24-25); and Killington, VT (Pico Mtn., March 31-April 1).  
More details on team and rider plans, as well as news on the schedule as it develops will be released in the coming weeks. Don’t let summer’s heat get you down, the cold nights and deep snow will be here before you know it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Morin closes in on Pro titles at Snow Ridge

        Red-hot Mathieu Morin inched one step closer to locking up the 2011 titles last weekend, winning both the Pro Stock and Pro Open finals as East Coast Snocross (ECS) completed Round 7 on the 2011 schedule at the Snow Ridge Ski Resort.
Morin (Ingles Performance/Ski-doo), of Val-D’Or, QC, held off chief rival Danny Poirier (Hulten Speed Sports/Polaris) to claim Saturday’s 10-lap Stock final, while Poirier’s HSS/Polaris teammate Matt Piche filled out the podium. Morin’s margin of victory over Poirier was a mere 2.4 seconds.
In Sunday’s grueling 16-lap Open final, Morin prevailed once again to earn his 10th victory of the season. And just like the previous day, Poirier and Piche powered their “Red Sleds” to second and third respectively.
From a manufacturer’s standpoint, Ski-doo is clearly on top but Polaris sure isn’t far behind on any given weekend here in the east. It should also be noted the tremendous progress Arctic Cat has made this season, thanks to riders like Corin Todd, Chris Ackerman and Jason Boron. To see all three brands on the podium this year has certainly been refreshing.
Action in the Semi-Pro ranks produced a few surprises at Snow Ridge. Lucas Brunelle broke a long winless streak when he captured Sunday’s Stock final. New York native and veteran racer Adam Sedlmeier made his ECS debut with a solid second place run, while rising star Jacob Muller, of Richmond, MN, (Team Southside/Polaris) came home third.
Saturday’s Semi-Pro tilt went to ECS part-timer Kevin Morin, with New Jersey’s Jesse James Bonaduce second and veteran Dale Petrus third. Morin’s margin of victory was the least of any winner within the top classes, just 1.4 seconds over a hard-charging Bonaduce. Each week, fans get their money’s worth in Semi-Pro action as these rising stars reach for the spotlight.
In the Sport division at Snow Ridge, Leo Patenaude (Patenaude Pool Plasters/Ski-doo) put in an impressive effort. The young athlete from Hartland, VT, held off a hard-charging Mike Pilotte (by less than two seconds) to claim Saturday’s Super Stock final. Jarett Catlin made the long haul from Rochester, NH worthwhile with a fine third-place finish.
Pilotte bounced back to prevail in Sunday’s Super Stock battle, yet Patenaude was right there in second. Catlin capped a successful weekend outing with another third place run. In Sport 600, it was all Patenaude once again. Catlin stepped up his effort to claim the runner-up spot, while Bruce Gaspardi Jr. (Team Southside/Polaris) filled out the podium.  
Connor Roscoe was the rider to beat in Junior division action over the weekend in Turin. The talented young athlete from Cheshire, CT, picked up three more final round wins. On Saturday, he held off Tyler Zuidema and Peter Yerden to claim the 16-17 Stock 600 final. He also out-gunned Jerry Field and Cole Fredricks to prevail in 14-15 Stock 600 action.
On Sunday, Roscoe powered his Ski-doo to victory in the Jr. 14-15 Stock 600 final, while Jayme Lynch took top honors in 16-17 competition over Yerden and Zuidema.
Other final round winners over the weekend in Turin include Jason Boron (Pro Vet); Steffanie Lemieux-Bell (Pro Women Sat. and Sun.); Joe Lemieux (Plus 35 Masters Stock); Daryl Nutting (Plus 25 Stock); Sarah Acker (Women Stock 600 Sat.); Wade Acker (Jr. 10-13 Stock 380 Fan Sat.); and Hunter Patenaude (Jr. 10-13 380 Sunday).
East Coast Snocross would like to thank the entire staff at Snow Ridge for hosting last weekend’s event. With less-than-ideal weather conditions, it was a challenge to say the least. Having enough snow to hold up during heavy rains is something few sites could handle, yet the folks at Snow Ridge had us covered.
Next up for race teams here in the northeast after a much-needed rest is Round 8 at the beautiful Peek ‘N Peak Ski Resort in Findley Lake, NY, on Saturday and Sunday, March 26-27.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Corin Todd dominates Pro Stock final at Ossipee

OSSIPEE, N.H. (Jan. 15, 2011) — Rookie sensation Corin Todd fulfilled a lifelong dream Saturday, dominating the Pro Stock final as Day 1 wrapped up at the Ossipee Fire Department in Round 3 on the 2010-2011 East Coast Snocross (ECS) campaign. 

Todd (JAC Racing/Arctic Cat), of Otego, New York, was competing on a sled borrowed from teammate Jesse James Bonaduce after his primary machine suffered mechanical failure. The 17-year-old athlete followed fellow Pro rookie Lincoln Lemieux into Turn 1, but led the field across the line for lap 1 and never looked back.  What makes this win even more special is the fact it was 25 grueling laps, tough for even the most seasoned veterans.

“I’m just speechless right now,” Todd said trackside after the win. “We’ve worked so hard to get here, night after night in the shop and working out in the gym. My Dad has worked his heart out to make this happen, and I can’t thank him enough. This feels absolutely incredible to reward Dad, Mike Kolety at Cat and all of our sponsors for their valued support. “

Mathieu Morin (Ingles Performance/Ski-doo) worked his way past Danny Poirier to take over the second position just past halfway, and hung on for the runner-up spot. Minnesota native Matt Piche (Hulten Speed Sports/Polaris) came home third, another solid run for the man they call “the Bull-rider.”

In the day’s other big show, New York racer Dale Petrus (Polaris) earned his first final round victory since 2008. The cagey veteran went wire-to-wire in the Semi-Pro Stock Day 1 tilt, holding off the big guns for top honors.

“It feels fantastic to be back on top of the podium,” an elated Petrus said after the race. “The snow dust is making for limited visibility out there, and there are some gnarly square edges inside some of those big holes. It’s a tight little track here, but I kept it pointed in the right direction, and it feels great.”

Other highlights in Saturday action here at Ossipee include another victory for Connor Roscoe in Jr. 14-15 Stock 600, while Ed “The Bandit” Bandel powered his way to victory in a thrilling Sport Super Stock final. 

We’ve got a little light snow falling here in Ossipee this evening, which will make for an ideal backdrop when we kick off Day 2 in the morning.

If you couldn’t make it out to join us today, we hope you’ll make plans to join us tomorrow.  We’ll have Day 2 of Semi-Pro Stock, the ground-pounding Pro Open sleds, another freestyle show from Rave-X and a whole lot more.

For a complete wrap-up of the weekend, go to  Monday night.  Our sincere thanks to everyone here in the Greater Ossipee region for hosting ECS Round 3.