Marietta masters new style of racing

GREENLAND – A new form of snowmobile racing made its debut this past Saturday. It was a combination of a hill climb, snow cross and cross country race, and called a hill challenge. Winning all four of the classes he entered, then taking both the Kissel Chevrolet Pro Mod King of the HIll and the Corrollo Motorsports Pro Stock King of the Hill was Hubbell’s James Marietta.

Marietta edged out drivers from four states in winning the Pro Stock 600, Pro Stock 700, Pro Stock Open, and Pro Mod 600 classes. By winning three of the classes in the Pro Stock Division on his Arctic Cat, Marietta reserved three spots in the Pro Stock King of the Hill. The only other driver to qualify for that ‘shoot-out’ was Bessemer’s Matt Tingstad. Tingstad won the Pro Stock 800 class, and drew the fourth and final run of the Pro Stock King of the Hill ‘shoot-out.’ Marietta needed his third and final run to get his winning time of 35.415 seconds. Tingstad ran a 36.006, to give Marietta the Pro Stock King of the Hill title.

It was in the Pro Mod King of the Hill that Marietta had to beat three other Pro Mod Division winners. Tingstad won the Pro Mod 700 class, Al Turin of Greenland won the Pro Mod 800 class, and Baraga’s Kyle Wadaga won the Pro Open Mod class. Marietta qualified for the Pro Mod King of the Hill Shoot-Out by winning the Pro Mod 600 class.

Marietta drew the first run, which is usually not the draw that a driver wants.

“I didn’t mind going first. This way I had no pressure on me as to what time I had to beat I would rather set the ‘bar’ for the others to have to beat,” Marietta said.

In that first run, Marietta pushed his sled and skills to a 35.328 second run. Turin, one of the Mid America Snow and Terrain Expert Racers (MASTERS) Racing Circuit’s Hall of Fame members, turned in a 41.701 second run. Wadaga set a 36.460 second run. Then it was ‘dj vu’ all over again, just as in the Pro Stock King of the Hill run, it came down to Tingstad knowing what he had to do to win the crown. Once again, the Bessemer snowmobiler was edged out by Marietta by less then a half a second. Tingstad ran a 35.455 second run.

Earlier in the day, Montreal, Wisconsin’s 15 year old sensation, Jordan Wolfe, set the fastest time of the day. Wolfe beat Marietta’s fastest time by one-thousandth of a second. In the Junior 2 King of the Hill run, Wolfe ran his Polaris in a time of 32.211 seconds. Marietta’s best time of the day was a 32.212 in the Pro Stock 600 class.

Earlier in the day, Jesse Yaklyvich of Phillips, Wisconsin suffered a knee injury when he failed to clear the double jump at the bottom of the hill. Yaklyvich was transported to Ontonagon’s Aspirus Hospital via Sonco Ambulance. Hastings, Minnesota’s Mark Siebenhaler had a minor injury in the competition but did not need to be transported to the hospital.

Not only was this the first “Hill Challenge” in snowmobiling, but also another first took place in the MASTERS Circuit. The MASTERS crowed their first ‘Queen of the HIll,” when Matt Tingstad’s wife, Melissa, won the women’s competition. Taking the Junior 1 King of the Hill was Nate Wicklund of Florence, Wisconsin. Wolfe defeated Minnesota’s top Junior hillclimber, Luke Maher, to win the Junior 2 King of the Hill. Fellow Minnesota snowmobiler Jake Adams of Isanti won the Kids King of the Hill in the Mod 120 class, while Champion’s Carter LaCosse won the Kid King of the Hill in the 120 Stock class.

The Ojibwa Casino/MASTERS series put this hill challenge into the circuit’s hill climb season points bracket. With the hillclimb at Mont du Lac, outside of Duluth, Minnesota, being cancelled due to snow, it is uncertain right now if the circuit will run a hill challenge or a hill cross at Marquette Mountain on April 4-5. Snow permitting, a snow drag and hillcross is planned for the Central Upper Peninsula Hill. However if there is not enough snow to form the jumps for a hillcross and there is enough snow to run a hill challenge, the Homestead Graphics High Point driver in hill climb will be decided at Marquette Mountain. If the circuit does not run another hill challenge, then the High Point Driver would go to the driver with the most points after this Saturday’s event.

Knowing that the Number One Hillclimb jacket may end up with what transpired at Adventure Mountain, Alston’s Travis Kaurala knew that he had the chance to pick up points on the point leader, Jordan Stank of Stoughton, Wisconsin. Stank did not compete at Adventure Mountain. Kaurala needed to place in two of the four classes he entered. It was in the Pro Mod 600 class that he went into the second round in third place. It was in this class that Marietta had already won the class with his first run on one course, then ended up getting a third with his second run on a different course. That second run for Marietta was a 35.440, and Kaurala’s best time in the class was a 36.000.

Kaurala went on to place second in the Pro Open Mod class. He now sits only four points down from Stank.

“Jordan (Stank) picked up a lot of points in a class with a lot of drivers in Caspian at the MACH (Mid America Championship Hillclimb), which hurt me. I knew I needed to hold a place in that Pro Mod 600 class, and when James (Marietta) beat me for third, that hurt my chances,” said, Kaurala, one of the Midwest’s top snowmobile hillclimbers.

All the Midwest was represented at the event, with Illinois being represented by Graham Svaboda’s second in Pro Mod 600 and a third in Pro Mod 700. Minnesota got a Kid King of the Hill with Adams, along with Mitchell Herdering placing third in Pro Mod 800. Wisconsin was led by Wolfe, Wicklund and Tyler Geiger of St. Germain. Michigan drivers that took home podium finishes included Marietta, Tingstad, LaCosse, Wadaga, Turin, Kaurala, Ryan Huff, and Chris Hella.

The Mountain Lions hope to use this event and funds raised from the event to make improvements to Adventure Mountain.

“This event not only gave birth to a new form of snowmobile racing, but it brought awareness to this former ski hill. The event also brought drivers and fans from all over to Greenland. We have already heard a lot of positive comments from both drivers and fans, and we hope that the MASTERS will be able to make this a stop on next years Ojibwa Casino’s Racing Series,” concluded Skip Schulz, MASTERS Racing Circuit President.

The Ojibwa Casino/MASTERS Series now heads to Marquette Mountain, just outside of Marquette for Uphill Snow Drags, and either Hillcross or a Hill Challenge, on April 4-5. The 15-year old snowmobile race sanctioning circuit has cancelled the Hillclimb and Hillcross at Mont du Lac that was scheduled for April 11th and 12th due to lack of snow. The MASTERS will be making a decision shortly whether or not the Snow Drags at Mont du Lac will also be cancelled.