The names Tucker Hibbert, Blair Morgan and Levi LaVallee will forever live on in the annals of Snocross history. Their accomplishments and personalities captured the spotlights and headlines during their racing careers. But the sport of Snocross is so much richer than the few who reach the pinnacle of the sport. Across the snowbelt, aspiring pro’s, weekenders and children fire up their sleds to compete for their own reasons.
The Balthazors and Roggenkamps are two families that recently entered the world of Snocross. Both fathers and their sons have experience racing in the Grassroots Snocross series at ERX Motor Park in Elk River, MN. They may not reach the breakneck pace of Hibbert in his prime, but the passion for racing and the overall sport of snowmobiling is just as strong.
“The sport of snowmobiling has been a staple in my family life since I was 5 or 6 years old,” said one of the dads, Kyle Roggenkamp. “I learned that it’s one of the few family activities that is really tough to outgrow, because the machines, the skills, the experiences, and the adventures are always progressing in the sport of snowmobiling.”
It was that love for sharing snowmobiling experiences that led racing to become a family sport. After seeing his dad race a Grassroots event, then 6-year-old son Jack knew he too wanted to give Snocross a shot. Kyle and his wife Lisa entered Jack into a Learn to Ride clinic the following winter and he was hooked. Jack entered the Novice 120 class aboard his stock 1999 Polaris 120 his first year and even went on to win the points championship that season.
A close family friend to the Roggenkamps, Jared Balthazor attended one of Kyle’s Grassroots races to watch and instantly knew that his family would become a race family as well. Jared bought a vintage class sled for himself and a Ski-Doo 120 for his son Glen. After seeing dad race, Glen soon had the itch to get out on the track and immediately took to it. That season, Glen had multiple first place finishes and astonishingly never finished outside the top 3.
With all pursuits, there are lessons to be learned along the way. “There are many lessons they are learning,” said Jared of their children racing. “…but a few are hard work, sportsmanship, and teamwork. The hard work comes from practicing and pushing your physical abilities as much as possible. It also means learning basic mechanical skills. It shows them that you can’t always rely on someone else and sometimes you need to fix the problems yourself. Sportsmanship and teamwork go hand in hand. I try to teach Glen that you want to help your opponents as much as you can because you want to compete with your best abilities against their best abilities.”
Kyle adds that Jack has, “learned that winning is never guaranteed, but the harder he works, the better his chances are of a good finish at the next race. We’ve also seen Snocross teach sportsmanship. We’ve had good nights, and we’ve had bad nights of racing – both of which teach the kids valuable lessons in sportsmanship, but from different angles.”
For these two families, the love of snowmobiling goes beyond racing. When they’re not at the track in the winter, they can be found on their sleds riding all over, whether it’s around the house or on a trip up north. Snowmobiling provides an opportunity for them to share common interests with friends and family. And it’s something that everyone in their families enjoys. The boys’ younger sisters, Grace Balthazor and Emily Roggenkamp love to keep up with their big brothers and get excited for their snowmobile adventures as well.
With the snowmobile season getting underway, there are many adventures to be had and races to compete in. Both families have full schedules of racing and riding this winter, which will surely lead to valuable memories and experiences.
The Balthazors and Roggenkamps have teamed up with Dennis Kirk to share their experiences on and off the track. Stay tuned to see more of their adventures as we follow along throughout the winter. And who knows, maybe one day, their names will be right next to Hibbert, Morgan and LaVallee in the Snocross history books.