CATch Me If You Can

The 2020-2021 race season heats up

August 2020 Feature Steve Janes

            If one new factory race sled is good, then two would be even better … and three would prove best. That’s what Arctic Cat has announced for the 2020-2021 snowmobile racing season.

            The R-SX, R-XC and R-M will be available for Arctic Cat racers this season in limited numbers … so you better be fast to submit your racer applications.

            One sled for the snocross racers, one sled for the hillcimbers and one sled for the cross country teams—three new sleds which will certainly re-confirm Cat’s dominance on the race circuits this season.

             Last season when the rumor started spreading that Textron had shut down the Arctic Cat Race Department, the chatter on social media started to blow up. Certainly budget adjustments contributed to changes in the racing department, but there was also a perception that race sleds should be built strong enough to last two seasons. After all, you spend all season tuning … why start fresh in the fall.

            Regardless of the reasons, Cat product developers and race team managers felt the 2019-2020 race season ended on a sour note (a lot had to do with Covid-19 and the cancellation of year-end points championships) and were determined to start this season on a more positive note.

            Traditionally, Cat would utilize Hay Days for its race program unveiling. With the annual event going the wayside as most large-gathering activities across the country, it has been left up to social media to generate excitement for this season’s race activities.

            “The Covid-19 impact has greatly affected the business and what we are able to do,” explained Brian Dick, director of Product Strategy for Arctic Cat. “A lot of races got cancelled last spring and we lost the excitement of season-ending points championships. It has impacted everything we do, and can do. There have been a lot of restrictions put in place that we have to deal with.”

            When Hay Days was cancelled, that left a void in every snowmobiler’s September schedule. Snowmobile companies were scrambling trying to find the best way to disseminate pre-season news to their customers.

            “The off-road industry has produced good numbers since people’s habits are changing to get outdoors more, Dick explained. “Hopefully this will continue to the snow season.”

            Dice said there are some significant engineering challenges that were either delayed or altered as things got shut down last spring.

            “We’re still pushing forward to get caught up on snow production,” he said. “We’re doing quite well right now. Race sled builds are scheduled for late October, early November. We think we will be able to hold to that schedule.”

            Race manager Mike Kloety agreed with Dick’s assessment of how last season played out.

            “Last season didn’t start well … and certainly didn’t end well with Covid-19,” he said. Kloety explained how last fall started with less excitement since Cat didn’t offer a race sled. “We hoped our racers could get two seasons on their 2018 race sled.” Yet after a slow start, Cat racers started to find their way back to the podium before things got shut down in the spring. It wasn’t the kind of race season that Arctic Cat was accustomed to or satisfied with.

            Kloety said, however, this season the racer roster looks strong with some good young racers making their way up through the ranks. He expects with the talent of racers on the venue-specific snowmobiles it won’t take long for Cat to resume its place atop the podium.

            Although Kloety said there still will be a lot of challenges in scheduling events due to Covid-19, he expects a full race season. He also anticipates Cat racers to be doing their part in “social distancing” by leaving the competition back in the snow dust.

Three’s Company

            The three new races sleds for Arctic Cat will be specifically designed for hillclimb, snocross and cross country terrain.

            The R-SX will be a very competitive platform on the snocross circuits. The throttle body kit offered last season will be factory installed this season. It will also have a revised front torque arm (2-inch longer) and rear suspension. Dick said that this chassis has been thoroughly tested last season and will start off the season strong and prepared for the competition. One change includes an ISR-required snow flap design which will make it easier for the competition to see as they chase the Cat racers around the track.

            Next, the R-XC model is designed for cross country terrain. Dick explained this sled has been very successful and will be ready to go from Day 1 of the race season. Starting already from a strong platform, subtle improvements during the off season will make a huge difference in its performance under stress.

            Finally, the R-M race model is specifically designed for hillclimb racing. With the new Alpha suspension you can bet this sled will huge the terrain and propel Cat racers up the mountain farther, faster and under better control. Cat will be offering additional hillclimb support with racing kits and setup techniques that will give every Cat race team all the tools necessary for success.

            “We have three new sleds for three key disciplines,” Dick explained. “We understand the impact racing has on the business. We race to innovate. We race for the passion. We race for the exposure.” And, as the competition has found out, Cat races to win.

Race Sleds Features

 2021 R-SX

New—Throttle Body Injection, improved low end power and response, revised rear suspension (front torque arm 2-inches longer for improved handling and transfer control), revised rail braces, new snow flap to fit ISR requirements.

Key Features—Fox 2.0 Zero C front track shock with position-sensing grooved body, spring designs to support 2-inch body, 20/49 gearing with Torque Overload Sensing slip clutch 49 tooth bottom sprocket to eliminate peak spike loads, manual chain adjuster for optimal adjustment settings, RS-273 Team driven clutch with lightweight tubular driven shaft, V-Force Reeds and race inspired upper chassis structure giving improved ergo.

2021 R-XC

New—Lightweight engine mounting with Carbon Fiber TCL engine plate, additional continuous improvements through parts and assembly process.

Key Features—Lightweight composite steering support, TS-273 Team driven clutch and lightweight Tubular Driven shaft, 23/40 gearing with Borg Warner chain and sprocket (for reduced stretch, lower friction and increased strength), 40 tooth Torque Overload Sensing bottom chain sprocket for eliminating spike loads into the drive train, Team Rapid Response II driven clutch delivering constant belt tension for optimum performance at all times, offset ski spacers for adjustable ski stance, 8-tooth Track Drive shaft for added ground clearance, 2.86-inch pitch 129x15x1.25-inch fully clipped Ripsaw track for better all-around performance, Stealth brake master cylinder, Race Proven Slide Action rear suspension with 7 Position Rear coupling, lightweight 4-wheel rear axle design, rail allows for additional mounting holes for front arm shock (ice racing), all four shocks come standard with the QS-3 compression adjustment, lightweight exhaust system.

2021 R-M

New—Alpha ALPHA ONE Rear Suspension, light weight engine mounting with Carbon Fiber TCL engine plate, 154x2.6-inch Power Claw track with 2.86-inch pitch puts more lugs on the ground with added traction feature locations.

Key Features—Arctic Mountain Front Suspension with vertical steering. Alpha One rear suspension for improved traction and increased climbing abilities. reinforced running boards with added width and traction, stronger rear tunnel section, lightweight composite steering support, Team Rapid Response II Drive and Rapid Reaction driven clutches delivering constant belt tension for optimum performance at all times. all four shocks come standard with the QS-3 (Quick Switch 3 position) compression adjustment .


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