We ride Lincoln Lemieux’s factory 2019 Ski-Doo MXZx 600RS
Call it a bucket list item or a childhood dream but I have always wanted to try my hand at snocross. At 41 years of age I’m a bit old to start a dedicated career, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun trying something new. I have raced motocross on and off again for the last 20 years, so I kind of know my way around a track, but I’ve always wanted to know how close the disciplines were to one another. This bucket list item gets an extra-large checkmark because I did get to throw my leg over a snocross sled and experience riding on a snocross track, but it wasn’t just any sled on any track. No, Steve Scheuring let me ride Lincoln Lemieux’s factory 2019 Ski-Doo MXZx 600RS race sled on the team test track at the KLIM Compound.
How The Team Began
Now, before I go into what it’s like for an average joe to ride a factory sled, let me give you a little background on Steve and his team. I spent 3 days around his race shop and while I was there he shared with me some of his and the team’s history.
Steve has been involved in racing most of his life. He started racing as a driver in the early 80’s running twin trackers and champs on the ice.
“I wasn’t a top 5 guy… Out of a pack of 40 guys I was usually about a 10th or 12th place guy.”
Steve raced until the mid-90’s when he was hired to work for the factory Yamaha race team. After Yamaha, Steve also worked for Factory Ski-Doo before deciding to start his own independent team.
“Someone in the industry had the idea to start an independent team and I thought why not, let’s give it a try.”
But Steve wanted to take snowmobile racing to another level with better presentation and bigger sponsors than what had previously been seen on the snocross scene. For the 1997/98 race season, in Steve’s first year of running his own team, he was able to bring on Amsoil, a synthetic lubricant company that was at the time considered a non-industry sponsor. A full-sized NASCAR style two-level semi-tractor/trailer was acquired making Scheuring the first team to show up with a big rig.
“We wanted to do it right, wear team pit shirts, look professional, and have the rig to go with it.”
Having a 19-acre facility, two snow cats, eight snow-guns and a full professional shop with machining capabilities and a dyno is proof that Steve wasn’t messing around.
Steve teamed up with Ski-Doo and would run with them for several years, winning a gold medal in their first year at X Games and finishing 2nd and 3rd in the championship.
Scheuring would run with Ski-Doo for several years and then switch to Polaris for several more, having success with each brand. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of people in the industry over my lifetime which has helped me out. Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know.”
Eventually Ski-Doo would bring on Jeff Goodwin, a longtime friend of Steve’s, allowing for another partnership with Ski-Doo who has been a huge partner for Scheuring Racing ever since.
“We have been able to have a lot of input into the development of the Ski-Doo race sleds,” Steve explained as he pointed to one of his 2017 machines. “We were able to get that one down to within 15 pounds of the minimum legal weight with a custom cooling system, some titanium and a few other custom parts. It’s basically what inspired the 2019 RS. We are always pushing the limits going as far as to have one-off $5000 custom Titanium race pipes built for some of our previous mod sleds.”
And the work has paid off. Steve has had much success in the business earning numerous points championships and has enjoyed working with some of the best riders including Shawn Crapo, DJ Eckstrom, Robbie Malinoski and Tim Tremblay. Current Pro Lites rider Hunter Patenaude #208 sits second in points and Pro rider Lincoln Lemieux #13 sits second as well.
Factory Race Sleds
The rules in recent years have seriously restricted what teams can do to the machines. Gone are the days of big-bore mod motors, custom chassis and twin race pipes. Nowadays the teams are limed to clutch component changes, shock changes, silencer changes and mapping. Of course, they can run studs and datalogging equipment but there are limitations to that as well.
Always looking for that extra bit of performance, the team spends most of their time testing different clutch setups, shock calibrations and fine-tuning mapping. They work closely with Fox who provides the shocks for the Scheuring team.
“Fox will come to the test track in Aurora for a few days to help with calibration. They have been a great support for us.”
The machines are built and maintained by Steve Thorsen and Elliott Burns who are the two factory technicians for Scheuring and both have years of experience in racing.
“Thorsen is a very experienced clutch guy and Burns is an amazing fabricator,” Scheuring said. “Burns even races a Can-Am car throughout the summer, so racing is in his blood.”
Each technician will work with their rider throughout the race weekend but it’s a team effort, so anybody will help when needed, as each team member has to wear multiple hats.
Riding a Factory Race Sled
Steve offered me the chance to ride Lincoln Lemieux’s race sled. I was a bit surprised and suggested maybe he should throw me on a practice sled.
“You can’t hurt it anymore than they do,” Steve told me, but I was still nervous.
About that time, Hunter was about to start a practice session. I didn’t want to get in his way, so I took it as an opportunity to study how he rode, what his body positions were, how fast he hit jumps, etc. My goal was to at least hit and clear a couple of the bigger jumps without making a fool of myself or worse yet, getting hurt. I found two jumps that looked reasonably safe, so I studied his every move. Where did he chop the throttle, what line was he on, was he standing or seat bouncing? He looked so smooth… this probably won’t be that hard… I hope.
Steve gave me a once-over of the controls since they are a bit different than a standard snowmobile. The reverse button is gone and replaced by a button that helps the sled warm up for a better holeshot. The first thing I noticed was the engagement; It hits hard! Don’t bother trying to feather the throttle into a smooth engagement. If you need to start moving, you better be ready to go, and go now. Once you’re on the track, the hard engagement is a good thing, but it keeps you on your toes just putting around the shop.
As I started to roll around the track I could tell that the suspension was much more ridgid than I anticipated. I expected it to be quite stiff compared to a trail sled, but I underestimated just how stiff it would be. The shocks felt like they did not move at all until I put the sled airborne and landed hard. I’m a big guy; 6 foot 3 inches and over 220 pounds. Now, considering this sled is set up for Lincoln who is probably closer to 160 pounds, it made me wonder just how hard he must hit an obstacle to make these shocks begin to travel through the stroke.
The stiff shocks resulted in no body roll at all anywhere in on the track. The super wide arms combined with very aggressive skis and the stiff shocks made this the best cornering machine I have ever ridden… by far. I could come into the corner way too hot and the skis would stick without the inside ski lifting. Tap the Hayes Brake a bit and it will really cut an inside line. But it did it very predictably. It wasn’t twitchy or jerky, in fact the handling was stable and predictable which was surprising to me.
After I realized how stiff the suspension was I expected the sled to deflect or kick a bit, but it didn’t. As stiff as the rear was, it never kicked or rebounded (not that I was going fast enough to find out). Even on an off camber jump the machine somehow stayed flat through the air and didn’t require much mid-air correction. This was a big deal to me since I am not that confident with midair corrections, especially on an unfamiliar sled.
The foot stirrups are moved back from the standard position with an added rubber enclosure to help keep the rider locked in and forward on the machine. The bar height was very low which made it tough for me to get into a comfortable racing position (not that I was actually racing). The throttle lever was turned down compared to what I prefer and although I am sure they would have adjusted it for me, I hesitated to ask. After about 10 laps of learning my way around the track and getting used to the machine I started to get arm pump from bending over and rotating my wrists so low (definitely not because I’m out of shape).
As expected, the long stroke 600 motor was amazing. It feels like it has the torque of an 800 although I think the higher engagement and hard-hitting clutch creates some of this perception. No matter, it has the power and traction to burst out of a corner with a short approach to a large jump. The throttle response is instantaneous and gave me the confidence to try and clear a couple of the short approach jumps that I never would have tried on a trail or mountain sled. The power and traction were aggressive enough that it began to wear me out and about 13 laps in I called it a day.
The sled that the Scheuring team built for Lincoln is no doubt on another level when it comes to what a human can do with a snowmobile. From the power delivery to suspension calibration you’re going to have to be on top of your game and in shape in order to ride this thing to it’s potential. But if you ever get a chance to ride one I would highly recommend it… it will be a ride to remember.