Albertville, Minn. ~ Last season on the AMSOIL Championship Snocross, Powered by RAM Trucks tour, a pair of worthwhile contenders made the move from Pro Lite into the Pro ranks. After splitting the Pro Lite titles the previous two seasons, Hunter Patenaude and Francis Pelletier formed one of the most successful rookie classes in the sport’s history. They combined for nine total podiums as Pelletier finished second overall and Patenaude was fourth in the final standings.
This season, a new pair of Pro Lite front-runners will be looking to duplicate the first-year accomplishments of Pelletier and Patenaude, as both Adam Peterson and Travis Kern will be jumping into the premier class (alongside Swedish rider Filip Harr who recently joined the Zandstra Motorsports program). The two Polaris riders finished one-two last season, with Peterson claiming the overall. Together, they landed on the podium 17 times, won three finals and laid claim to the AMSOIL Dominator, which Peterson won on the final day of racing in Eagle River, Wis.
Both riders were constantly in contention for race wins, even as they found different paths to the podium. Peterson was a great starter last season on his way to notching his two wins. Kern, meanwhile, was a hard charger, constantly battling back and putting pressure on the race leader with exceptional second half speed, claiming one win and nine podiums in the process.
Moving up to the Pro class has been a long-time goal for both riders. They found success through the younger ranks and getting the chance to be in the mix with the best riders in the sport is a testament to their talents, positive attitudes and overall desire to be to win at a high level.
“I’m super stoked to be moving into the Pro class,” said Kern. “I had a longer run in Pro Lite than I ever planned on due to some injuries and tough seasons. But I feel like that has grown me as a racer and it will pay off going into my first Pro season.”
“I’m very excited for this season,” said Peterson. “It seems like just yesterday I was racing in the Junior 10-13 class on my 300 Ski-Doo, and now, to be racing for Team LaVallee (Polaris) in the Pro class is a dream come true.”
Their talents and dedication to being championship drivers is a main reason for their success over the years. Each has also benefited greatly over the past few seasons from the strength and experience that flow out of their teams’ race trailers. Peterson has the dual mentorship of former series champion and X-Games legend Levi LaVallee as well as the sport’s most energetic personality and perennial fan-favorite, veteran Kyle Pallin.
“I’ve learned a lot from Kyle over the past couple of seasons,” said Peterson, “and even with all the pressure of racing, we always manage to have fun. One piece of advice Kyle has given me about moving up is to be confident, and remember that I can run with the pros.”
That sentiment also resonates inside the Cottew Motorsports/Polaris program. Current Pro rider Cole Cottew has brought an entertaining quality to the sport, and the now third-year pro is using his experience navigating the Pro field to help Kern find his own success.
“The last two seasons with Cottew Motorsports have been some of the most fun I’ve had,” said Kern. “Cole obviously plays a large role in that. It’s been so beneficial to my racing to be at the practice track together all winter and to be at the races talking about where we need to be faster and discuss different lines that each of us see is huge.”
As history tells us, it won’t be an easy transition for the young riders. The sleds will be pretty much the same, but the competition across the field will be tougher, mistakes will be amplified, and each race will come with more time on the track.
“One of the biggest adjustments I will have to make for the pro class is endurance training for the longer finals,” said Peterson.
“I am very excited for the longer, timed format of racing which I feel will benefit me over the short Pro Lite races,” said Kern. “But I think the biggest difference going into the premier class of snocross is how costly mistakes can be. I feel like you could get away with a few mistakes in Pro Lite, but in the Pro class, one mistake can cost you multiple positions.”
The rookie duo will have every opportunity to distinguish themselves as legitimate contenders and develop long careers filled with race wins and growing fan bases. But they will also be tied together, which sits well with them as they have battled bar-to-bar for a majority of their racing timelines.
“Travis and I have had a lot of good battles over the years in pro lite,” said Peterson. “He’s very consistent, and I think he will be able to hold his own in the pro class.”
“Adam rode awesome last season, and it was a blast racing against him,” said Kern. “Both of us proved last season that we have what it takes to jump up into the Pro class and I’m excited to battle with him and the rest of the Pro field next season.”