They Lose, We Win

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In this edition of ‘MOTORHEAD’ Mark Lester discusses the rationale behind eliminating 440’s from stock class in snocross. Read an excerpt below taken right from the pages of Supertrax!

If you’re a snocross racing fan you’re probably aware of the new-this-season rule making 600cc race sleds eligible for Stock Class. What effect is this likely to have on the sport?

It’s no secret sno-X has had an increasing influence on snowmobile technology and marketing. For the past decade it’s been the primary influencer on technology touching almost every part of the modern snowmobile. That reality is about to be revisited in a very interesting way.

Until this season, Stock Class snocross has been rooted in purpose-built 440cc limited production race sleds. These “limited builds” are updated every year by Polaris, Ski-Doo and Arctic Cat, with myriad refinements targeted at improving handling, suspension and available power.

Three years ago the OEMs began crowing they were spending too much engineering energy and precious development dollars on sleds powered by 440cc engines. It made sense. There’s no viable 440 production snowmobile market segment. The 440s were all so high strung they required six dollar a gallon race fuel to produce race level power.

Most 440s make 108 to 112 hp – pretty serious jam for a 440 with mandated 34mm carbs. Racers liked what they were hearing, too. The cost to keep a 440 running is high.

Okay, the manufacturers wanted out of the 440 engine biz but remained committed to building special sno-X limited-build race chassis’. These often produced new technologies usable on your production sled.

Here’s what everyone, including most racers, thought was going to happen. The OEMs and ISR (the international snowmobile racing organization that establishes snowmobile racing rules and, while reluctant to admit, is controlled by the OEMs) would mandate Stock Class snowmobiles be powered by a “production based” 600cc mill, eliminating the expensive 440s.

This would be accomplished when ISR upped what is referred to as the homogolation limit (the number of 600cc engines that must be built to legitimately be “stock”) to around 1500 engines, up from the current 300 engine homogolation threshold.

If the homogolation number went up, the manufacturers would be forced to use existing 600cc mills in their production models and the cost of racing would come down.

Read more in Supertrax Volume 19, #2.

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