With another season of snowmobile racing in the rearview, Team Arctic Race Manager Mike Kloety was gracious enough to answer questions about the team.
In this second of the two-part interview he talks about the Sno Pro 600 race sled, the health of the sport and Arctic legend Roger Skime.
AI: How do you think the Sno Pro 600 fared compared to the competition in both snocross and cross-country this season?
Kloety: We were close with the ProCross chassis right out of the box in 2012, but it needed refinement. For the second year of this chassis I think most of our racers were pleased at the changes from 2012. Each brand has its strengths in both forms of racing. Today any racer is getting a very good package to start with.
AI: I know you probably can’t talk too much about the 2014 Sno Pro 600, but can you say if there will be changes and what kind of improvements (or areas you’re focusing on)?
Kloety: For 2014 the ZR 6000R SX and XC race sleds will see some improvements but I am not expecting any major changes. Most of the improvements will be in durability and calibration. Our Pro Open sleds on the other hand might be a different story that you will have to wait till Duluth to find out!
AI: I often get the notion while talking with you that you’re just as concerned about the overall health of snowmobile racing as you are in winning. And sometimes you make decisions that hurt Team Arctic’s win record, but that are ultimately good for racing. Is that you’re approach?
Kloety: For sure I like to see and keep as many people racing as possible. That sometimes negatively affects the win record today, but hopefully pays bigger dividends in the future.
I believe the strength in the sport of racing comes from having many racers. If there are only four teams competing, we don’t have much of a program to promote.
The health of the sport is a huge priority. I’d rather support five young kids who haven’t proved themselves, but who want to learn and be better, than to simply go out and buy an existing winner.
AI: What are the most pressing concerns for the snowmobile racing world?
Kloety: Easy: the cost! That goes for everything involved with the sport, from entry fees and insurance to fuel and to the race sleds and replacement parts to the cost of travel.
We have taken steps to curb costs but it’s not easy. We battled for hours in meetings, trying to keep carbon fiber and other exotic material products from being the norm in racing and believe me I see all angles now. The carbon stuff out there today is very nice and the sport can benefit from more sponsors and companies, but in reality what happens is that the people with the new product want the best racers to promote it. So they give away a few parts and those racers still win. Now other racers feel they need this high-tech part to compete, but they need to pay for it. Pretty soon you have a beautiful and lightweight carbon fiber drive clutch cover that everyone believes they need, so they spend $600.00 on, so the cost just ratcheted up another notch. Is that good for snowmobile racing?
AI: What do you and the rest of the Team Arctic staff do during the spring and summer?
Kloety: We’re a pretty small department, so snowmobile racing keeps us busy year-round. Racer applications are due in early May; drag racing will be in full swing come August; and with new models we have a lot of work to file specifications to ISR before any racing starts. After a busy winter we always have new ideas and plans we want to look at that may help the racers next season.
AI: Okay, last request: Tell me a Roger Skime story.
Kloety: Here’s one that I was thinking and laughing about the other day: It was a few years back. Roger and I were driving the 12 hours from Thief River Falls to Eagle River for the World Championship weekend. It’s LATE on a Friday night – probably around Midnight – we’re halfway to Eagle and all of the sudden Roger grabs his phone and says, “Oh geez, I better call Bernice [his wife]… I haven’t seen her since Wednesday and better tell her I won’t be home for a few days!”
Roger just goes wide-open all the time. He’s always thinking so much about snowmobiles that he completely forgets about the normal things that most people think about.
The Arctic Cat world really needs to thank that great lady for letting Roger be Roger!
Thanks for reading.