Earlier this summer snocross affiliates from across North America voted to change the platform of the elite Pro Open class to match that of the production-built Pro Lite class. The only exception being what will now be called the “Pro” class, will have the option of covering the headlight at the front of the machine.
The argument for this change was that the cost of racing an open sled has spiraled out of control and that by utilizing a 100% stock machine more riders and teams would be able to afford to progress to the top rung of the sport. Additionally, it was noted that the difference in lap times between the top riders in the two classes is often not more than one or two seconds, with a bigger spread appearing between the top and bottom riders in the Open class.
In the days and weeks that followed there was massive outcry from fans claiming the rule will water down the sights, sounds and capabilities of the fire-breathing mods they pay to see. Many teams also opposed the change stating that by taking innovation away from the mechanics, the rule penalized those who worked harder than their competitors to produce the best equipment and results.
Both sides have valid positions that likely will be debated well into the 2017-18 season. The reality is, however, that the rule is not going to change and all parties will have to make the best of it.
Pro snocross has been in a bit of a funk for the past two to three season’s with a steadily declining number or riders lining up in the premier class. The AMSOIL Championship Snocross series typically opens with 20-24 riders including a brief influx of pros from the Canadian national tour, before settling in at 17-18 riders in the heart of the season.
Unfortunately, injuries almost always take a toll on those numbers and lately, the tour has had a hard time fielding two, eight man motos and barely filling the 15-man gate in the main event.
We took a look at the numbers heading into this season, comparing last year’s touring regulars to this year’s potential field and it doesn’t look good. At present, there are 14 regulars tentatively scheduled to compete, although two are still unsigned and one is a privateer who is 50/50 at best on making a full return.