2018 Snowmobile EXPO, Powersports & Races

The annual Snowmobile EXPO, Powersports and Races returns to West Yellowstone, Montana from March 9-11, 2018. This year marks the 28th Anniversary of EXPO!

For the 28th Anniversary, we are bringing back favorite events including Vintage Oval Racing, Western Grand Championships and MWR M120 racing, and Snow Bike Racing. The growing sport of UTV racing will also return on Saturday.

Don’t forget about Casino Night and Calcutta on Friday evening. The vendors and exhibits will also be outside at the track with free admission all three days.

Events:

  • New snowmobile models from manufacturers for the first time anywhere in the West. Freedemo rides will be held at the racetrack.
  • The 120 Western Grand Championships return again with racing just for kids.
  • Vintage Oval Racing has been expanded to include additional classes with races on both Friday and Saturday. The Western States Vintage Snowmobile Association (WSVA) Annual Show will also be taking place.
  • The AMA Championship Snow Bike Series Round 6 will feature plenty of knock-down, bar-banging, jaw-dropping, ski-to-ski action featuring really fast guys on really fast bikes! Open to all snow bikes. To register for races, click here.

For the full weekend schedule, click here.

We’d love to see you in West Yellowstone this coming March. Please help us spread the word about EXPO!

2018-02-04T10:11:34+00:00 February 4th, 2018|Expo News|0 Comments

AMA Championship Snow Bike Series Returns to West Yellowstone, Montana

Boise, Idaho – In 2017, the AMA Championship Snow Bike Series became the first races in the almost 100 year history of the AMA to run without any kind of wheels.  The AMA recently raised awareness and prestige for the sport by announcing the snow bike racing will become a full-fledged National Championship Series in 2018.

Snow-biking is a relatively new form of winter recreation, where a ski and a lightweight, high-performance track are fitted to modern, off-road motorcycles.  Snow-bikes are easy to maneuver, and weigh under 275lbs. and the cost of entry into this sport is relativity inexpensive, and allow a dirt bike rider to quickly and easily convert their motorcycle for use in the winter.  AMA Competition Director, Kevin Crowther stated, “The AMA was excited to get involved with the new and innovative sport of snow bike racing last year.  Now we are ready to work with the industry to help take things to the next level by making this a full-blown AMA National Series.”

Snow bike racing is not new; one round of the race series has run in Idaho since 2009, drawing well-known motorcycle competitors over the last eight years such as: John Dowd, Ronnie Renner, Mike Metzger, Brock Hoyer, Reagan Seig, Jimmy Jarrett, and many others.  New for 2018 will be National Championship men’s and women’s pro classes, as well as a non-cash Senior class for riders over 40.  Amateur classes will also be offered for women, kids, bikes up to 350cc, and a new unlimited trophy class that will allow turbos and NOS to be utilized, providing a great platform for testing and R&D work for teams and manufacturers.

Ron Dillon, series director, said, “We have learned from past snow-bike events that when dirt, dust and rocks are eliminated, racing gets closer.  Racers will be riding inches from each other, fighting for every position, and it is an absolute blast to watch them go at it.  The sport continues to evolve and our tracks will be closer to Supercross than ever before with more jumps, banked turns, and rhythm sections, taking advantage of riders’ increasing skills and increasingly better equipment.  We are proud to be working again with the AMA, and we have some fantastic new race venues for 2018 including the legendary World Championship Snowmobile Derby in Eagle River, Wisconsin, and the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe, Nevada.  For more information about the 2018 AMA National Championship Snow Bike Series, call Ron Dillon at (208) 573-4255, or visit www.snowbikeseries.com.

2018 AMA National Championship Snow Bike Series Schedule:

  • Round 1:         Saturday, December 9, 2017: Hill City, Minnesota, (Quadna Mountain Resort)
  • Round 2:          Saturday & Sunday, January 20-21, 2018: Eagle River, Wisconsin (World Championship Snowmobile Derby)
  • Round 3:         Saturday, January 27, 2018: McCall, Idaho (McCall Winter Carnival)
  • Round 4:         Saturday, February 10, 2018: South Lake Tahoe, Nevada (Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Lake Tahoe)
  • Round 5:         Saturday, February 24, 2018: Kalispell, Montana
  • Round 6:         Sunday, March 11, 2018: West Yellowstone, Montana (West Yellowstone Expo)
  • Round 7:         Saturday, March 24, 2018: Diamond Lake, Oregon, (Diamond Lake Lodge)
2018-02-04T10:00:40+00:00 February 4th, 2018|Expo News|0 Comments

25 Years in the Making: West Yellowstone’s Annual Snowmobile EXPO

The story of the West Yellowstone Snowmobile EXPO captures a quarter-century evolution of  snowmobile technology, racing, and fans.

Snowmobiling and West Yellowstone, Montana have gone hand-in-hand since the first snowmobiles models designed for trail riding hit the market in 1964.  Snowmobile races were held in December and a “round-up” of the season in March sponsored by the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce began in 1965. The annual March Roundup was a gathering of racers and snowmobile manufacturers. At that time, there were 73 snowmobile manufacturers including Sears & Roebuck, John Deere, and Harley Davidson. Today, there are four.

A speed oval track was created about a ½ mile west of town with a Special Use Permit from the US Forest Service. A permanent oval earthen bank held an ice base created from the truckloads of water hauled in by local volunteers. Other volunteers plowed the road to the racetrack and prepared the track and pit areas for races. The oval races were sanctioned by the Western Snowmobile Racing Association and attracted all of the top manufacturers and their racers.

Other race venues included a cross country race that included 100 miles of terrain, the “close” course made up of about seven miles, and a slalom course.  This was prior to trail grooming, so snowmobilers spectators encountered some rough riding.

Over time, the speed oval ice track became so expensive and time consuming that the location was moved back to what is still called the “old airport,” a large flat meadow at the western edge of West Yellowstone that was the site of the first airport used to bring in planeloads of Yellowstone Park visitors each summer.

The first official 1990 “Annual Snowmobile EXPO” was the brainchild of local businessman Glen Loomis, Jerry Schmier with the Chamber of Commerce, and a dozen volunteers. Harry Jorgenson of Bombardier and Arctic Cat’s Joey Hallstrom had also been looking for an event in the West that could showcase their new snowmobiles.

A promoter was hired to coordinate the event, schedule, and marketing for the first EXPO.  The race venue was changed to a “SnoCross” design with jumps and turns that would challenge the riders and excite the crowd. SnoWest Magazine became a major sponsor of the SnoCross races, along with SnoRider and Western Power Sports.

The four major snowmobile manufacturers displayed their upcoming model releases at the Old Railroad Depot building, where heat was a challenge but attendee’s didn’t seem to mind.

The Mountain River SnoRiders snowmobile (Idaho Falls, ID) ran the radar runs which used a quarter-mile track groomed to a smooth hardpack, and were open to anyone with a snowmobile and $2 entry fee. The radar track changed over to a drag track on Saturday. Entrants were sorted into classes with no restrictions on traction except stock sleds were stock through the powerplant.

The four-day event continued to expand to include power pulls, poker rides, hot dog roasts torch-lit parades, and entertainment from The Hager Twins of “Hee Haw” fame  in 1992 and 1993. A surprise birthday party was planned for Tucker Sno-Cat to recognize their grooming contributions to the track.

EXPO attracted the top racers from across the nation. The 1993 SnoCross races followed Rocky Mountain Circuit rules and included the likes of Kirk Hibbert, Jason Jones, and Jack Struthers in the pro class.  The 1998 EXPO SnoCross competition was a sanctioned ISOC event and featured racers from across the U.S. and Canada including Blair Morgan, Kurt Crapo, Brian Call, Greg Hyde, Todd Wolff, and Brad Pake.  For the 1999 EXPO, Jeremy Crapo, Chris Vincent, Dennis Eckstrom, Todd Tupper, and TJ Gulla joined the list of competitors.

Tucker Hibbert began his legendary racing career at the age of nine racing in  the Junior class while his father, Kirk, competed in the pro class. Tucker had won his first gold medal in the 2000 Winter X Games at just age 15. In 2008, Tucker returned to West Yellowstone to win the Pro Super Stock class of the national Jack Links SnoCross.

Blair Morgan, fresh from Canadian motocross, entered his first SnoCross race in Wests Yellowstone on a dare. He brought his stand-up style to the track and changed the sport forever. Morgan stood while riding the entire time, even thru bumps and jumps, and went on to surprise everyone with a second place finish. This was the beginning of a streak of wins and national championships.

Over time, the EXPO Headquarters moved from the old Railroad Depot, out to a tent at the old airport, and then to the Holiday Inn Conference and Convention Center where remains today. Marge Wanner took over the role of Snowmobile Events Coordinator as a volunteer which evolved into a paid position. Marge is as much of an institution as EXPO. Without her efforts, and those of countless volunteer, EXPO would have not continued through the years.

“Freestyle” big air snowmobile shows were added to the 1999 EXPO. Freestyle snowmobiling was created in West Yellowstone.  Kourney Hungerford and his brother Whitney began snowmobiling as youngsters. Kourtney’s first sled at age 10 was a Yamaha Sno Skoot.  They were also freestyle motocross fans and wanted to figure out a way to do similar stunts with a snowmobile.

With the help of a shop class teacher and friends, they constructed their first ramp in 2001 and starting modifying their snowmobiles. Within a few years, West Yellowstone hosted the first freestyle event, followed by other cities until in 2007, ESPN’s Winter X Games added snowmobile freestyle to its list of extreme sports competitions.

From 1999-2005, FSX hosted a freestyle or “Big Air” competition. Scoring was complex with 50% based on number of tricks and their consistency and timing, 30% on degree of difficulty, and 20% on showmanship. The EXPO 2004 competition included Heath Frisby, Chris Burandt, Jimmy Frejes (famous for his backflips), Tim Needles, and Lee Stuart  who were also known for appearing in back country freeriding films.

After a hiatus in 2006, freestyle returned to the 2007 EXPO when the SCS Sledstyle Invitational prequalified 10 competitors include Heath Frisby, West Yellowstone’s own Kourtney Hungerford, Sam Carver, Chris Burandt, and others.  Beginning in 2008, the freestyle competition was replaced by Billings-based Octane Addiction’s freestyle show.

Vintage sleds have been a feature since 2004 when the Western States Vintage Snowmobile Association (WSVSA) held their first annual “Vintage Roundup” during EXPO inviting vintage snowmobile clubs and members to participate in competitions, poker runs, and other activities. Vintage races and “hot laps” were included in 2007.

The Vintage Show and racing events have continued to expand reflecting an increasing interest in anything vintage from snowmobilers. In 2014, the SnoCross track was transitioned to an oval racing track reminiscent of the track used by the first EXPO racers.

Other changes in EXPO reflected changes in the sport as well. Cross country races were dropped in favor of more SnoCross although that could be reintroduced in future EXPO’s. The next generation of racers (with encouragement from parents and grandparents) battles in the M120’s races with increasingly expensively modified sleds. In 2012, the inaugural 120 Western Grand Championship Races were introduced to the racing line-up.

Other racing events were tried over the years including ATV and UTV, a “Big Truck Bash,” and snowbikes.  A free afternoon show from SWOOP Productions was added featuring a sport-bike freestyle show for bike fanatics of all ages.

In other ways, however, EXPO has not changed.  Ten months of planning, hundreds of volunteers, deliberations for grooming the track and stands, and steadfast support from snowmobile manufacturers, SnoWest, and the participants. It is still the best end of season show for snowmobilers in the West!

2015-02-13T14:14:21+00:00 February 11th, 2015|Expo News|0 Comments

25th Annual West Yellowstone Snowmobile EXPO returns March 12-15th, 2015

West Yellowstone’s 25th annual Snowmobile EXPO (www.snowmobileexpo.com) is where Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo, and Yamaha will unveil their new 2016 snowmobile lines to the public at the same location, for the first time in the Rocky Mountain West. Aftermarket parts, clothing, media, and more will also be on display at the EXPO hall located at the West Yellowstone Holiday Inn Conference Center.

“We are looking forward to the 25Th Anniversary of the West Yellowstone Snowmobile EXPO, March 12- 15, 2015,” states Marge Wanner, West Yellowstone Chamber Snowmobile Events Coordinator. “It’s the best end-of-season power sports weekend in the West! EXPO is kind of like a family reunion; people bring their friends, look at new stuff and come to have a good time.”

Wanner also notes that “To enhance and celebrate our anniversary, we have partnered with Wild Bill Productions to bring back outdoor concerts by request Friday and Saturday night in the City Park.”

Despite warmer weather, there is plenty of snow at the Race Track and City Park as it has been stock piled all winter. Wanner notes, “In 24 years, Expo event has never had to cancel any activity of the Snowmobile EXPO.”

“One thing about West Yellowstone is you can pretty much guarantee we will have snow for the EXPO events. Traditionally, our streets bare off in mid-February, and they cover with snow again just as fast. Snowmobile trails are being groomed nightly and snowmobile guests tell us they are having a great time,” adds Wanner. The 11th Annual Vintage Snowmobile Exhibit and Show will return again on Saturday March 15, 2015 hosted by Western States Vintage Snowmobile Association. The Vintage Show will be located at the EXPO Race Track on Iris Street. This annual show, competition and display is one of the largest gatherings of vintage and antique snowmobiles in the West with U.S. and Canadian participants from all over the “snow belt.” More than 200 immaculate snowmobiles encompassing the entire spectrum of snowmobiling history are expected to participate. This year’s featured Year Class is 1974. Prizes and special awards for: People’s Choice, Best of Show, & WSVSA Sled of the Year.

Vintage Racing returns again with expanded classes, races, and a specially designed course. In fact, the entire race course is being reconfigured as an oval course. WSVSA Vintage Snowmobile Oval Races starts on Friday 1:00 PM and will include two qualifiers and a final. Saturday races will also offer two qualifiers and a final. Classes will include stock and mod single cylinder, 340 and 440 fan cooled, and 340 and 440 free air. Races are limited to snowmobiles year 1980 and older.

Don’t miss the crowd pleasing Vintage “hot” laps where Vintage drivers take to the track with an entertaining display of decorated vintage sleds, decorated and pulling an amazing array of items from dog houses to bars. Vintage “hot laps” are featured at 10:30 AM on Friday and 11:00 AM on Saturday.

Don’t miss the action of head-to-head snowmobile drags races on Saturday, sanctioned by Washington State Snowmobile Racing Association (WSSRA). Starting pads enable everyone equal start conditions, as 2 lanes of head-to-head racing take place, operated by MWR with ISR rules. Junior, Traction, and Non-Traction (136″ x 1-1/4″ tracks or bigger) classes ranging from 440 to 1000cc.

Mountain West Racing (MWR) Junior SnoCross racing includes Junior 10-13, Transition 300, and Transition 500. Junior SnoCross classes will alternate with the MWR 120 races (Friday & Saturday) and the Grand Western M120 Championships on Saturday.

120 Western Grand Championship brings upcoming super stars together to own the 2015 “Champion 120 Title”. 120 cc racing is a special event for all youngsters who compete in three different classes:, 120 stock, speed limited, 120 Champ. Kids from 4 to 12 years old have a chance to try out racing or gain racing experience.

The Radar Run competition returns for 2015. Radar Runs are held on a straight-line 500’ packed snow track, with a 600’ shut down extension. Entries run one at a time. All snowmobiles and riders of all classes, eras, and experience, are eligible and welcome. Each class winner will be determined by the fastest speed. $10.00 gives you 2 runs. The highest speed of 2 runs will be considered your entry. If someone beats your speed you can “pay to play again” and try your luck at a faster speed.

Back again for the kids are free M120 snowmobile rides for kids 3 – 12 yrs. of age on Friday from 3:30 – 5:30pm and Saturday from 10am – 3pm.

And, for even bigger “kids,” try out the new 2016 snowmobile models. Manufacturers will be offering free demo rides. Timbersled will also be offering first come first serve demo rides for anyone that is interested in riding this special snowbike (proper riding safety gear will be required). Located on Iris Street, just south of the race track.

SWOOP Productions is back this year for another Saturday afternoon exhibition of thrilling and inspiring sport-bike freestyle shows for bike fanatics of all ages. This free show starts at 4:00 PM show will be in downtown West Yellowstone. Swoop Productions is a rider formed company bringing the exciting spectacle of freestyle street bike and Harley Davidson stunts. Swoop Productions offers some of the most talented FMX riders in the world!

Thursday night fun includes the famous Casino Night, where anyone can become a millionaire (with funny money!) and a Calcutta for the vintage racers, followed by special free concert by The Teka Brock Band sponsored by the Holiday Inn through the Big Sky Songwriter’s Conference.   And, new for this year, Wild Bill Productions is producing outdoor concerts on both Friday and Saturday nights. Friday night bands range from bluegrass to solid gold country featuring The Teka Brock Band, Confederate Railroad, and Blackhawk. Saturday night bands range from southern rock to wild rock’n’roll featuring The Outlaws, Warrant, and Jackyl. Octane Addictions is presenting an exciting snowmobile freestyle airshow in between the bands on both nights.

“We are excited about the partnership with Wild Bill Productions to offer our EXPO attendees a new event. Outdoor concerts on Friday and Saturday nights are being paired with Octane Addictions Aerials. It’s the funnest weekend on Snow,” adds Travis Watt, Chairman of the Chamber Snowmobile Events Committee

And, don’t forget to bring your snowmobile. Watt adds, “While we are experiencing unseasonably warm weather, we are still 107% of snowpack. The trails are good, the high country riding is fantastic, and there is plenty of snow and more coming!”

Parking is available near all EXPO venues and throughout West. Shuttles will offer pick-ups and drop-offs from major hotels and downtown locations, including the SWOOP and concert events on Friday and Saturday nights.

2015-02-16T14:55:37+00:00 November 25th, 2013|Expo News|0 Comments