Long Time Racer Steve Houle of Speedwerx and the SnoPro 500
by Scott A. Sumner
Steve Houle is the owner of Speedwerx a performance shop with 17 employees located at Forest Lake, MN 30 miles from Minneapolis. He also finds time to work for the Tucker Hibbert Race Team and and build all the race engines for Arctic Cat for the last 11 years. “ On Tucker’s team I am in charge of engine and clutch tuning and go to every race with them.” said Steve Houle. “ I have been working with Tucker since he was a semi pro back in the late 90’s and knowing his style and what he likes on the race track we are always trying to dial
the sled in to his needs. We work with a lot of other drivers as well and it is the same deal. Everyone has a little different style. We try to adapt the machine to what they want.”
Steve Houle raced for 20 years beginning in 1979. “ We raced everything there was back in the day. I started in cross country racing and did ice lemans, oval racing and enduro racing. We did what ever paid the most- is what we specialized in. I raced the I 500 twice and DNF both times. I raced against Kirk Hibbert in the 90’s.” said Steve Houle, now age 51.
What does Steve Houle think of the SnoPro 500?
“ We spent quite a bit of time last year testing with the SnoPro 500 because there were so many guys that wanted to race it cross country. In stock form the biggest gains are in clutching. We picked up a lot in that area alone. For the guys who are out trail riding them and want more HP there are several different options we offer from clutching and exhaust system all the way up to a big bore kit 730cc that gets it up to the 140 HP range. We spent a lot the time in the development stage. It is not even comparable to the stock machine with close to double the HP. With clutching and exhaust you can get it up to around 100HP pretty cost effectively.” said Steve Houle.
How has the snowmobile race business progressed?
“ There have been a lot of technical advances. Every year you wonder what you can do to improve it but some how or another we find little ways. In the old days you could make a small change and get a huge gain. Now we are making small changes and the gains are a lot smaller because it starts out so good right out of the box. It is a lot of fine tuning now. The sleds are good right out of the box. A good rider can hop on and be competitive.”
How is your company Speedwerx doing?
“ Our company is doing great. The economy has had a noticeable effect just like it has for everybody else but we are doing everything we can to get through it. We have a really good working relationship with Arctic Cat and their engineering people. I spend most of my time in the shop in development.” said Steve Houle.