Amsoil Sponsored Sno Cross Team Wins Pro Open At Duluth Opener
By Scott A. Sumner
When you attend a WSA snocross race you cant help but notice the presence of Team Amsoil. Steve Scheuring, age 46, is the owner of the Red Bull Amsoil Sno Cross team and I was able to talk to him in his transporter during a break in the action at the Duluth National Snocross opener.
"This is the seventh year with the race team. Previous to that I did some oval racing myself with the Ski Doo twin tracks and worked for the Yamaha factory snocross and Ski Doo factory snocross teams," states Steve Scheuring. "The off season is just like getting ready for a war. We spend twelve months getting ready for the snocross racing season. In the summer time during the month of May, we do postmortems on what happened the previous season - what we need to improve on. June and July we are designing and developing clothing and contracts. August and September we do R & D work and October we are making snow. By Halloween we are usually testing snowmobiles at our shop in Aurora." (located about 5 minutes from the Giants Ridge Resort. about 1 hour north of Duluth.)
In Aurora, Team Amsoil has a complete test facility on a 13 acre site. "It's an R & D facility where we have Planet X, which is a snocross testing track located right next to our shop. Our shop is a full on Indy car style race shop where, for example, we have in house machining capabilities. We can drive the transporter in and out. We make our own snow and in fact we were the only track in the US previous to Thanksgiving that had snow available for racers to ride on," notes Scheuring. "It's fortunate as where we live we get four degrees temperature changes that other tracks don't, so we can make snow. We've bought additional snow guns and another groomer this year so really dove into this. It paid off because we got to ride 9 days before the first race and not many people can say that. Over this last weekend we had over 150 riders on our track testing. One of the things we did was open it up to a lot of Sport and entry level Semi-pro guys so they could get some time on their snowmobiles before coming to Spirit Mountain - to make Spirit a more competitive and safe race. You could see the people who had some time on their snowmobiles did a lot better than those who had not ridden yet this year. Scheuring will rent out the track for $100 per day per driver and that includes the insurance and mechanics. This is a bargain when you consider the money invested in snowmaking and the facility. When we have 20 or 30 people up there each day it is true race conditions all day. It is a great opportunity for anyone who needs to get seat time. We will be open as long as we have snow which is about to the middle of April. We do close on the weekends when we go racing just so we have a good handle on things," says Scheuring. "Right now we have 2 feet of snow on the whole track and it is about seven seconds longer than Spirit Mountain.
(see www.scheuring-speedsports.com for more information)
"I have stuck our whole life into this. It's a passion for me, so that fuels our success. What we have in our test facility will rival any factory. There is no factory that has an actual testing facility like we do. They have race shops and machine shops but to be able to drive out your back door, go on fresh snow and test is spectacular. It's 20 feet from our back door so there is no having to mobilize everything." says Scheuring
The Team Amsoil has a brand new race trailer that they designed. "We were the first team to bring a big trailer onto the series. It was a used trailer I bought from Steve Kinser, who races the World of Outlaws. We used that for the first couple of years until we became established and secured some long term contracts. After that we spend about a year designing this transporter exclusively for snocross racing, where we moved the axles back and have overhead hoists. Everything we needed we built in ourselves and it works perfectly for us," smiles Scheuring. "A trailer like this is $300,000 and then you have to take a truck and hook up to it which is an easy another $100,000 for a brand new one. Then you put a couple tools in here so its quite an investment just to get on the road. There are at least 25 big trucks like this now on the circuit and each year its seems like 2 or 3 more come into the picture."
"When I put this team together I knew we had to make a big splash and do something unique for our sponsors so we grabbed the attention, on and off the track. These are the coolest rigs. Before this I was very close to joining an Indy car team and was fortunate to put this team together," says Scheuring. "I said this is what we need to set the pace. It is exactly the same as a Indy car team. There is nobody that has the same level of professionalism that we do. We are on par with Indy Car, Nascar or Drag Racing."
The new Polaris IQ 440 is a great race snowmobile according to Steve Scheuring. "We helped in the development quite a bit last year. The thing has run flawlessly. We put numerous laps on it last spring and spent a lot of time this fall on wood chips and on our own track with out any failures. So now we are going to see what happens on the track against the other brands. Polaris built the sled and we helped a lot with the ergonomics and things that weve learned help us from a racing standpoint. Our driver DJ Eckstrom did a lot of test riding on it as well. In between races we'd go up to Roseau and spend a few days riding it and giving them our input. Most of the information we gave was on rider position, comfort and ergonomics. I think they did a great job. It is a true race sled. They didn't take a production sled and turn it into a race sled. They built a race sled and it's a quality built piece."
After several seasons Scheuring decide to make a driver switch with Carl Schubitzke replacing 5 year driver Justin Tate. "Switching drivers was not really a tough decision. I think the tough part about it was you knew what the answer was. It was just a matter of when you wanted to accept that answer. Our team put in a lot of effort. Justin is a great guy. He lives in the Cities and has a young daughter so sometimes it became a little bit of a challenge for him to come up and practice. It was a logistics thing which was hard to work for both of us," says Scheuring. "Carl is based out of Duluth, a hour from our shop, and was a natural fit. He and DJ graduated from Proctor High School together and they are good friends, so the whole package fit real well. I think we have the best team out there. We have the best two drivers, the best crew and the best sponsors. This team is about positive energy and high energy. Everyone on the team has been involved in racing for along time, some 20 years each on our mechanic side, so they know this is nobodies first rodeo."
Team Amsoil has two drivers, five full time mechanics including Steve Scheuring and one part time mechanic. There are no semi pro divers. "My hands are full with the two pro drivers. I want to do the best job possible for them. My feeling on getting involved with semi pro drivers is it's like a feeder circuit in football. You groom them through the ranks, make then real good and somebody else tries to steal them from you," says Scheuring. "The priority of Team Amsoil is the WSA National Circuit and the Winter X Games. On the off weekends they try to keep active and remain in the race environment in the WSA regionals, the CSRA series or the Eagle River World Championship."
"We are very fortunate to have a primary sponsor like Amsoil. At the level we are at you need a primary sponsor. As performance escalates, so do costs and we have been fortunate to stay on top and really have great resources. This fuels our performance on the track," says Scheuring. "Your heart can be in it as much as you want but it is a big dollar sport. Amsoil has stuck with us from day one. We brought on the US Air Force and this year, Red Bull Energy drink. Polaris has been with us for three years now, as well. We have long term contracts with these guys so that allows us to really dive in with long term goals, rather than on a year to year basis.
What does Steve Scheuring do for fun in his spare time? "I dont ride any trail sleds as I'm not very good at that. I used to race myself and I'm pretty careless on the track, so I made a conscious choice not to go out there and hurt anybody," laughs Scheuring. "This is my fun. When your hobby is your living it's great. I have some heavy equipment like a dozer, a groomer and back hoe. That's my hobby, just to move dirt."
Things have started well for the Team Amsoil with racer D. J. Eckstrom winning Pro Open and finishing second in Pro Stock at the Duluth National Opener. Can we look for National Championships from this team in 2004/2005?