Ross Martin of Team Judnick Sweeps Amsoil Duluth Snocross Pro Classes
By Scott A. Sumner
Ross Martin of the Scott Judnick Race Team is a happy 22 year old. He sweep the pro stock and pro open classes at the season opening WPSA Nationals in Duluth in convincing style. This is one of my greatest weekends said the second year pro rider who lives in the southeast corner of Wisconsin, next to Lake Michigan in a small town called Pleasant Prairie. The 5 ft 10 inch, 175 pound racer started snowmobiling at 5 or 6 years old, racing motocross at age 9 and at age 16 raced snowmobiles. This is his 5th year at the Duluth, MN race, 3 years as a semi pro and 2 as pro, being with the Judnick team for 4 years.
"The race shop is in Wausau and I go home for a day or two each week. We will ride there when we have snow on the practice track," smiles Ross Martin. "Last year racing we had trouble mechanically in Green Bay and it lowered my points level down. In Yellowstone I won all the heats and had trouble in the final. In Lake Geneva we lost the series to Robbie Malinoski. You need everything working to win." "The holeshot in snowmobiling is one of the biggest parts. If you get up front with a clear view you have a big advantage.Once you get up front your gone and in the back there is snow flying and people going everywhere. It is definitely dangerous out there. It is all for all," states Martin. "The track here ended up turning out decent. The first day was the worst as the track wasnt beaten in but it got really good. I have been riding Polaris for 5 years and I think we have the best sled out there. There is no doubt about it. If you have a good rider as well you never know what could happen."
"I used to watch Blair (Morgan) on TV and say I think I can do that but have a long ways to go. As the years go on the competition gets stronger. I think he is still as good as he was, if not better, but every one has pretty close equipment and many can win," smiles Martin. "I knew Tucker would be up there as well. When I am out there no one is any different than anyone else. Its awesome winning both classes here at Duluth. I dont think there is anything better."
Scott Judnick, age 47 is the owner of Judnick Motorsports and the garbage business owner turned snocross team owner was a proud man after the team wins. After selling his large independent company to national BFI, Judnick was looking for a new challenge.His sons were interested in the snocross sport so a large snocross team was formed.
"It takes about 7 months of my year. By the middle of October we move the team to Wausau and are there until April 1. In the other months we are on the sponsor thing trying to raise money. It takes quite an effort to get everything ordered for the season of racing," notes Scott Judnick. "For instance decals are a big deal making sure we have all our sponsors on the trailer. The tractor and trailer must be ready to go, mechanics have everything they need and other items ordered such as transponders for the sleds, computers etc."
Running a snocross team can be a costly venture with the transporter costing about $500,000. The annual operating budget for the team is from $500,000 to $1,000,000. The racers get a salary and contingency from Polaris and from WPSA. The mechanics are paid. "When we build everything in you are at $700,000 pretty quick. To watch expenses I drive the rig, load and unload, order the parts and keep the equipment clean. My wife does the cooking and she is having spaghetti right now so if you are hungry go on up. She makes the best chocolate chip cookies on the circuit, keeps the water and pop for 8 or 9 people," smiles Judnick. "At the Duluth race my mom comes and it is a family thing. I try to make it fun. Most of our budget comes from sponsorship but in the old days a lot would come out of my pocket. We have great sponsors now. Just in goggles alone the kids need 50 pairs of goggles from Fly and 4 or 5 helmets each. All the sleds and parts Polaris gives us. We do 16 sleds per season for 3 riders. They start out the season with 5- 1 mod, 1 practice sled and a race stocker with two left in the crate. Once they wear out the practice sled they take the race sled and make it into a practice sled and get a new race sled. In the past we only had 1 mod sled but this year will build two for each rider."
"The sport is not for a sissy and is a tough game. The kids have to be tough with many bumps and bruises along the way. Hopefully it doesnt go any further than that for any of them. They try to keep it as safe as possible but with more money, it has become more competitive," noted Judnick. "It is unbelievably competitive out there with 15 guys who can win consistently. Blair is the best rider ever, you have Tucker, Kuafman and Polaris with the deepest roster. I believe Tom Rager is the best race director and has a pile of guys who can ring the bell and do it consistently. They are big names."
"The riders will not make as good money as motocross but a kid like Ross if he has as good a season as we think will make over $200,000. He gets his sleds, a salary and big contingency and incentives," states Judnick. "All the top guys have this as their only job. I have had Ross saving his money and he bought his first house at Pleasant Prairie recently. He bought it well and paid for over half of it at the start. The top guys make a great living but not compared to other sports."
A big topic of conversation at the opening Duluth National was the re-entry of Yamaha to snocross after a several year absence. "Robbie is tough and always will be tough. They have some bugs to get out of it but from the first day we ever saw the sled on the track they have improved leaps and bounds. It is encouraging. You dont just compete with these snocross sleds over night. I watched Robbie ride quite a bit testing up at Planet X and everyday the sled got better," smiled Judnick. "I think it is great they came back to snocross racing and they got one of the top riders in Robbie Malinoski. They will do alright. If we have everyone participating and spending money hopefully we will sell snowmobiles. On Monday hopefully a lot of people will go and buy a Polaris after seeing our wins."
Next year the WPSA will move from a 440 stock class to 600. "At first I was leery with the 600 stock class next year, but what is happening at Polaris is they are integrating the Race Department and the Performance Department, so they are changing the way they look at things. If these buggies can do what they are doing out here they can really take a pounding on the trails. The sleds will be what we are trying to sell on the showroom floors. They are making the changes as no one buys 440s and the 600s will run on pump class."
Congratulations on a great race weekend for Team Judnick.