Two and a half years ago, Wes Chapman competed in his first snocross competition.
Chapman had just started riding snowmobiles and the machine he was racing on wasn’t his own.
However, it didn’t stop Chapman from winning all three qualifying races and the main event in his first four races.
“I had been riding four-wheelers with the Stoffles for awhile and they thought I’d be good at snocross,” said Chapman, a Moffat County High School senior. “I swept my first weekend and I knew I could be good at the sport, so I went out and bought my own machine.”
On the tread of his 2009 Ski-Doo MXZx 600 RS, Chapman continued to compete in regional races for the past two years and now will join Snowfire Racing, a snocross team based out of Pinedale, Wyo., to compete in national events for the 2011-12 season.
Chapman said he raced with Taylor Dyess, the team’s only racer in 2010-11, a few times last season and was asked by owner Clark Dyess to join the team during the summer.
“They promised to help me out and give me some tuning secrets if I would race with them,” Chapman said. “I have competed in a few national events, but this will be the first year I have competed a full national schedule.”
Snowfire Racing will run the International Series of Champions schedule, which includes races in Michigan, Minnesota and North Dakota.
Chapman will compete in the Junior 16- to 17-class.
“I am a relatively young athlete in this sport,” Chapman said. “I have good statistics this early, so I think the national events will provide more competition.”
Chapman competed in the Xtreme Mountain Racing circuit for his first two years and was crowned champion in the Junior 14- to 17-class and the Sport Stock I class in April.
While the XMR races consisted of about eight to 12 racers, Chapman said the national races could have up to 80 racers per class.
“Last season, when I raced in national events, guys had newer sleds than me and I couldn’t keep up,” he said. “You have to have up-to-date equipment if you want to compete, so I knew I had a decision to make.”
After joining Snowfire Racing, Chapman purchased a new 2012 Ski-Doo MXZx 600 RS snowmobile.
The sled cost $10,132, all of which came from Chapman’s pocket.
While at MCHS, Chapman gets out of school every day at 1:45 p.m. to work at Craig Powersports.
During the fall, Chapman has to return to the school at 3:30 p.m. for football practice.
“I have been working part-time jobs since I was in fifth grade,” he said. “It is helpful that I can be part of the work program at the school. I don’t make a ton of money, but it is better than nothing and I get on-the-job training with snowmobiles.”
As Chapman prepares for his first competition this season Nov. 25 to 27 in Duluth, N.D., he said he would continue to race the XMR schedule as well, resulting in about 12 events this season.
“It’s going to be a busy season, but all the races fit with each other,” he said. “I think every racer wants to get to national events. It’s like football, that you start to get to college and hopefully the NFL. It is the same with racing.”
While Chapman said he knows he has to work his way up through the ranks, his goal is to race professionally.
“By competing in national events, I can be seen by professional teams and if you race professionally, you can make a salary,” he said. “Within the next five years, that is where I would eventually like to be.”
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