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by Scott A. Sumner
    This season Arctic Cat has launched an  new snocross race sled, the Sno Pro 600. It is basically an all new sled, from the ground up, that has everyone at Arctic Cat excited.
“ I wasn’t as involved in the new sled design as I have been backing off doing a lot of fishing. I’ve been going with Tucker doing his motorcycles. I ain’t retired  and am  still  involved with the sled,” smiled legendary Kirk Hibbert. “  It is a 600 engine with an all new chassis and frame. It is not a take off of anything from the past. It is real structuraly rigid. The race sled is quite different than the F series. Little of the rear skid frame is similar but other than that it
is all different. The engine is very advanced but can still run on pump gas where the 440 couldn’t hard run on pump gas. The engine is vastly different than the consumer version and about 128 HP. The sled weighs  about 450 pounds. We had spindle issues and are getting new spindles. It will  be fixed.”

   How does  quiet spoken Kirk Hibbert see the snocross series today?“Snocross seems about the same the last few years. The sleds are getting better. You can always be  getting  better suspension.”Did you know CJ Ramstad, snowmobile icon who died May in a car accident?   “ I knew C J Ramstad ever since  I came back from the West and raced
the I 500  andwon the Jeep 500 when it was cut short in Duluth. He was a diehard snowmobiler. There is no doubt there was nobody around that had his snowmobile history in his head. He knew everything about every racer and every model clear back to the beginning. He was the most knowledgeable man on all the different models and who raced what
andworked on a couple of legend books for Arctic Cat. He has been missed. As a company we relied on him for photos or things from thepast. CJ will be watching the races this weekend and getting a good view.”
    Russ Ebert is the Race Manager of Arctic Cat and has been a snowmobiler since the 60’s when he first heard a snowmobile go by. “ I had a pair of downhill skis and all of a sudden I heard this noise and some little thing came down the trail with skis and a motor.  I put the
skis away and have been a motorhead ever since. My snowmobiling started with a little Ski Doo and I’ve been a Arctic Cat guy ever since Roger Skime came out with the Arctic Cat Panther  some 40 years ago,”  smiled Russ Ebert whose home is in Brainerd , Mn  and has an office in Thief River Falls. “ The technology business continues to go. There are some
very creative minds in Thief River Falls and we are always trying to do something better, make something better, a better mouse trap if you want to call it that. Technology just continues to evolve. We had a really good season last year with our Firecat platform that came out in 02 . We for sure could have put the 600 engine package in there and won
a lot of races and perhaps championships this year but our customer is always looking for something new, something cutting edge. So we thought 18 months ago, lets go to the drawing board and see if we can’t come up with a better snowmobile.”
    There are very very few parts that interchange between the new Sno Pro 600 and previous Sno Pro’s according to Russ Ebert. There are some suspension parts on the rear end that interchange but few other parts.  “ It is a new sheet of paper. We had brainstorming session with some racers and Kirk and the project was headed up by Brian Dick. There is a lot of racing heritage here. They wanted to create something special and I think they hit a home run,” smiled Ebert.
“  Way back in the early ZR days Kirk and another engineer there worked on the vertical movement of the spindle being more perpendicular to the ground service than the old technology. Our F platforms had some movement. Kirk has thought for some time we could do a better job if we move that thing more straight up and down.That is the goal of this
geometry and this is our first real production model. We had a spindle materials issue. It had nothing to do with the geometry but we had a material issue with the spindle. All our prototype and pre production testing had no issues and then we get the production pieces and we had
an issue. That will go away and won’t be a problem.”
   The new  600 powerplant  in the SnoPro 600 is basically an Arctic Cat /Suzuki engine what is called the  D engine with  V cylinders . It has a light crankcase which is very durable with good HP. “  We have been riding these sleds this year and worked hard on this project form last Dec to June out west. There has been a lot of time put on the sleds. I think we will have a great platform. There will be some little growing pains but at the end of the day we will have a great sled. We race to win races and gather information to build a better product at the end
of the day for our consumer,” stated Ebert. “  The mod sled can have a engine that is zipped up and the weight level is different so you can do more things on a open sled than a stock sled. We haven’t had as much time on the Mod sled. We have learned some things already we like.”

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