DEADWOOD — It may well be the best show on snow to ever arrive in Deadwood, and city workers are busy making snow to prepare for the big event. Described as “motocross racing for snowmobiles,” the AMSOIL Championship Snocross is coming to Deadwood’s Days of ’76 Rodeo Grounds Feb. 1 and 2, with plenty of amateur and professional action-packed snowmobile racing in store for spectators.
“Snocross is motocross on snowmobiles,” said AMSOIL Championship Snocross Public Relations Director Pat Schutte, who said that the sport is around 20 years old. “We’ll build a track out of snow in the arena and it will be comparable with supercross.”
The Deadwood Snocross Shootout will feature 150 of the world’s top snowmobile racers from the United States, Canada and Europe, many of which compete at the annual X Games competition.
Schutte said that the Deadwood stop is the last of an eight-round series.
“It’s actually a very important stop,” Schutte said. “They're the only two rounds of AMSOIL Championship Snocross in the state of South Dakota.”
Many of those racers, hailing from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, for example, are expected to travel to Deadwood to participate, earning series points.
“There will be both amateur and professional races,” Schutte said. “Depending on the conditions, 15 laps will constitute one race.”
George Milos, executive director of the Deadwood Chamber and Visitor’s Bureau, said that the event would draw national attention to Deadwood.
“The races air nationally on the CBS Sports Network, and Deadwood will be a centerpiece next to the racing. We will show the race organizers and the riders and crews the best of hospitality, which will carry over into pre- and post-race interviews on a number of networks. Deadwood will gain significant traction in the Snocross world with this event.”
Snocross is a takeoff of cross country snowmobile racing, which, because of the challenges in following riders, is difficult to watch.
“Snocross is more spectator-friendly,” Schutte said. “Here in Deadwood, if you buy a ticket, you’ll be able to see every turn, every jump in this race.”
Custom sleds will rip across the grounds of the Days of ’76 venue. It’s an apt venue, because these machines corner like barrel racers, jump high into the air and sometimes buck their unlucky riders off into the snow.
Carl Schubitzke, International Series of Champions (ISOC) president and race director, said there are a lot of reasons Deadwood was selected as the site of the event.
“The biggest reason was their enthusiasm and desire to have one,” Schubitzke said. “It is no secret that it takes a large number of people to put on an event this size and the chances of success go up dramatically when everyone is excited about it. Everyone goes the extra mile and that is what it takes. The area is a great snowmobile community and the town is fantastic so with everything else it was an easy decision.”
Milos explained that the Deadwood chamber hosted a similar Snocross event at Deer Mountain and Terry Peak some 13 years ago. At that time, it was decided not to renew the contract because of the feeling that the city of Deadwood lost most of the visitors after the event because it took place outside of Deadwood.
“Fortunately, we were able to work out a deal so we could host the event at the rodeo grounds,” Milos said.
The AMSOIL Championship Snocross round at Days of ’76 Rodeo Grounds features the three main snowmobile manufacturers — Arctic Cat, Polaris and Ski-Doo — and their factory teams of racers.
The lineup includes defending Pro Open class champion Tim Tremblay (Ski-Doo), the winningest snocross racer of all-time. Arctic Cat’s Tucker Hibbert and Polaris’ top racer Ross Martin will compete as well. Racing will also include amateurs and top women racers, featuring numerous local snocross racers from the Deadwood area and Dakotas region.
Milos said that right now, he and his crew are anxiously watching the forecast for more snow.
“But if Mother Nature plays tricks on us, we do have back-up plans for snow in place,” Milos said. “The city of Deadwood snow removal crews are stockpiling snow for us, and we’ll have other options up our sleeve if needed. We hope ISOC will make Deadwood a stop on their annual circuit races. We need good conditions, but possibly more importantly, we need good support from the community during the races. If there’s a buzz of excitement and good crowds throughout the weekend, I believe we’ll host ISOC on an annual basis.”
The city has conducted snow-making operations at the rodeo grounds to ready the area.
The International Series of Champions (ISOC) is the premier snowmobile race sanctioning organization in North America and sanctions national AMSOIL Championship Snocross, presented by Traxxas, in addition to affiliating with nine regional circuits. Visit www.isocracing.com for more information, fan and racer memberships, schedule details and more.
The Deadwood Snocross Shootout on Friday and Saturday Feb. 1-2, consists of rounds seven and eight of the 2012-13 AMSOIL Championship Snocross circuit. Practice starts each day at 8 a.m., amateur racing begins at 9:30 a.m., pros at noon.
Milos said that Deadwood Snocross Shootout ticket prices are lower than any other ISOC event.
“We want this to be a family-friendly, affordable event, and it’s our hope people will take in both days of racing action.” he said.
Tickets are available by calling 1-800-344-8826, at www.deadwood.com/events or at the gate.