JEFFERSON —?Austen Madison didn’t even know this style of racing in the sport of motocross existed, but boy is he glad he found out.
The Jefferson native won the Snowbike Division of the 2016-17 AMSOIL Championship Snocross Series.
Madison has had racing in his blood since toying around with dirt bikes and snowmobiles when he was 12.
“My brother Elliott and I both kind of picked it up at about the same time, we’d always ride dirt bikes and snowmobiles around at my grandma’s farm— we even built a track out there — that’s kind of how we started getting into it,” said Madison.
That led to Madison racing snowmobiles, until 2014 when the idea of racing snowbikes came to fruition.
“You take any motocross bike and buy a kit for it, there’s five or so manufactures that make them, said Madison.
Madison races a Timbersled / KTM 450 SX-F in the Pro Lite class. Currently, there is only one class for snow bikes.
“It’s new, so there is not always a good turnout for riders, at least in the ISOC Series. We’re encouraging motocross riders to give this sport a try!
Due to his success, Madison will make the move to the AMA Snowbike Series next winter.
“I still plan on running ISOC Series again, and also the AMA Snowbike Series,”?said Madison.
Madison won the eight-round series even though he didn’t compete in the very first race in November.
“I didn’t even know there was going to be a snow bike series,” Madison said. “I went out (to Duluth, Minnesota) and watched, and from that point felt like I could do this. The very next week I found a kit and I got the bike set up for the very next race out in Colorado.”
In his first-career snow bike race, Madison finished third in his heat, and then finished second in the finals, placing just behind David Fischer of Eagan, Minn.
Madison wound up finishing in the Top 3 of every race, including wins in the RAM Trucks Snocross National in Mount Pleasant, Mich. and Theisen’s Snocross National in Dubuque, Iowa to finish in first place with 213 points, six ahead of runner-up Cody Thomsen of Nisswa, Minn.
Madison completed the championship task with a third-place finish at the Ram Trucks Snocross Grand Finale, held March 17-19 in Lake Geneva.
The Snocross Series has taken Madison to Colorado, Minnesota, South Dakota, New York, Michigan and Iowa, so having sponsors has been beneficial.
“I found out real quick I wasn’t going to be able to get it done by myself,” said Madison, whose primary sponsor is Robs Performance Motorsports in Johnson Creek.
Madison also is sponsored by Ski-Doo, Sea-Doo, Can-Am, Honda, KTM, Triton Trailers, Fox Shox, PR2 Suspension, OGIO International, and Samsung Machine Tool.
Madison also has enjoyed seeing different places in the northern states.
“When we went out to North Dakota we got to see Mount Rushmore, when we went to New York we stopped at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame — it’s kind of like a mini vacation,” he said.
Madison has a small crew, consisting of his brother, Elliott, his father, Dave, Friends Brett Krahn, Mike Kevin and Rob Strauss.
“Rob has helped me out a lot, and I’m very grateful for all of his help this season” said Madison.
He’s also had the opportunity to race out of the trailer of Ian Buchman, a close friend that he raced snowmobiles with since the start of his racing career.
When Madison needs to get in some practice for his races, he travels to Salem, Wis. and uses a home-built course of former ATV professional Doug Gust.
“He builds a big snocross track! He makes snow like they do at a ski hill and then builds jumps and other features similar to the race tracks for us to practice,” said Madison.
Madison will continue to train for the next Snowbike Snocross season, competing in summer motocross events at Aztalan MX and other tracks throughout the Midwest.
“Mountain biking is also a great cross training activity,” said Madison, “The John Muir Mountain bike trails in kettle moraine is one of my favorite spots to ride. Backyard bikes in La Grange is right down the road from the trail head and they offer rentals for anyone who would like to give mountain biking a try.”