Friday, February 23, 2024

2024 Polaris 600R: New Snocross Sled and Season Preview

by Chandler
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When you need to cross the frozen tundra, there’s only one North Star to guide your journey. Polaris sleds dare to go right into the heart of any blizzard, getting you through deep snow without breaking a sweat.

That same rugged DNA is woven into Polaris race sleds. However, making a championship caliber sled isn’t as simple as following blueprints, it’s a grind from start to finish.

As one of the world’s most popular snowmobile manufacturers, Polaris applied everything it has learned over the years when engineering their newest Snocross sled. The 2024 Polaris 600R is ready to hit Snocross powder just in time for the upcoming season but it’s not exactly an overnight process to get this snowmobile across the finish line.

In fact, according to Polaris Race Director Tom Rager Jr., the 2024 600R is the culmination of a decades-long grind full of dedication, elbow grease, and innovation. All of it backed by data. The amount of work that goes into the finer details surrounding a high-performance snowmobile keeps engineers and team members awake at night, 365 days a year.

Rager says, “The amount of work and effort that it takes to get these sleds built every year gets overlooked by most people that follow racing. There is a huge effort by our engineering and powertrain teams to make this happen.” 

“It’s unique because we are making updates and improvements every year to the 600R”, Rager explained. “This means we are working on and testing next year’s changes during the race season and validating the changes right after the season in April while there is still snow available.”

Polaris doesn’t stop there when it comes to making sure they are turning every stone over in an effort to improve the sled. As you can probably imagine, this process takes time.

Rager explains, “Sometimes we find an improvement later in the race season, so that really puts time constraints on getting those improvements implemented. Especially the last few years, Covid has made manufacturing very difficult. Thankfully, we have a lot of engineers who have a passion for racing and are willing to put in the extra effort to make sure we build the most competitive sled that we can.”

If you had to go around the world in a single night, for whatever reason, the new Polaris 600R could get you to and from the North Pole in record time. One thing is certain, this new Snocross sled will be at the very top of holiday wish lists this season. Battle-tested durability and race-proven peak performance top the checklist as the 2024 600R proves naughty and nice can indeed get along in any winter wonderland.

Luckily, Polaris had a really good foundation in place allowing them to focus on subtle changes for the 2024 600R that could have a major impact on the course. “We didn’t change much for model year 2024”, Rager says.

He continues, “We were very happy with the performance of model year 2023 last year, so we just wanted to make some slight changes. We have been updating the engine package each of the last four years so it will be good for our teams to be able to start with their baseline from last year for the first time in five years!”

Thomas goes on to mention some of the specific changes Polaris made include:

“New Spindle – Upper ball joint and spindle are tapered fit for strength. We went taller for MY23 (Model Year 2023) and that caused stress to that area, this addresses that issue.

New Upper A-Arm – More clearance to the IFS spring, with the longer spindle on MY23 the A-arm was flexing too much.

New A-arm bushings – Stronger bushings needed because of the longer spindle.

New Front Track Shock – Has rebound adjustability to go along with low speed and high speed adjustment.

New Front Torque Arm – Stronger”

On paper, these changes may seem insignificant to the untrained eye but they can make a world of difference when it comes to winning races. That’s why the team spends countless hours perfecting their recipe:

“We had really good success last season so we are very excited with this year’s race sled because our racers are starting this season with a race-proven setup starting point. Sometimes, when you make changes, there is a learning curve to maximize those changes. We are always looking to improve, but sometimes it’s a benefit to have a solid starting point”, Rager explained.

You don’t even have to be a professional snowmobile racer to enjoy the benefits of Polaris Race Engineering. The best part about all of the Polaris Race Team’s hard work is how the benefits from research and development carry over to consumer sleds.

For example, according to Rager, “The Polaris lineup of XCR models share a lot of DNA with the 600R. The front suspension geometry, the front half of the rear suspension geometry, shocks, rider ergonomics, and rider position are a copy of the 600R. When the Matryx platform was being designed, the 600R ergonomics were the goal. They even had a 600R in the clay studio as inspiration.”

As for the race sled itself, the Polaris 600R could strut to and from school through a blizzard, uphill both ways, with its eyes closed. It’s that good. Make no mistake about it, this is a race-ready sled from the factory, as it should be. Sure, there is a lot of attention given to the 600R engine but it takes a lot more than a motor to make any sled go hard.

It all begins with the racer-first design-approach employed by Polaris from start to finish. The 600R features improved seat ergonomics with taller, stronger spindles. The improved rider geometry along with a higher ground clearance unlock enhanced cornering performance ideal for snowmobile racing.

Polaris didn’t stop there, they know there is no point starting a race if you can’t finish it. As a result, the 600R engineering team prioritized strength and durability when designing the sled and its components. The 2024 600R is the kind of sled you can push to the limit from the start of the race all the way to the finish line.

Other highlights include the Dragon Holeshot System, exclusive to Polaris. This unique system allows the exhaust pipe to reach the optimal temperature and back-pressure for launching your sled out of the gate. A Dragon Holeshot indicator light gauge alerts the driver when the system is good to go.

When you’re in the slush, the last thing you want is slop. That’s why Polaris blessed the 600R with a championship caliber suspension system. This advanced snowmobile racing setup features a Polaris race-front suspension system along with an RX2 rear suspension. A high-clearance IFS and Walker Evans Racing Velocity shocks round out the superior handling performance package.

If you want more details than that, you might have to acquire a 600R and pop the hood yourself because Polaris plays their cards close to the vest. When it comes to the secret behind what makes the 600cc engine of the 600R tick, Polaris wisely keeps its lips sealed: 

Rager explains, “We don’t share much information on the recipe of our race engine. It is a 600cc race engine, but the basis of the engine is shared with consumer engines. The only unique parts are the cylinder, pistons, head, and exhaust. It shares the case, crank, and ignition system with consumer engines.”

Once again, Rager goes on to say how racing research and development benefits consumer sleds in the future, “We are able to keep learning from this engine and pass it along to consumer engines in the future. Items such as lightweight crankshafts and lightweight flywheels were developed through the race engine even though they are widespread amongst consumer models.”

The bottom line is obvious, Polaris cares enough about all riders to share their racing expertise with their consumer lineup. That’s exciting news for any Polaris rider or snowmobile shopper.

For Thomas Rager, Polaris sledding runs through his bloodline, this is a family tradition. He followed in his father’s footsteps as the Polaris Race Director taking the important lessons he learned along for the ride.

“I was lucky to have had my father as a mentor for many years before I replaced him in 2012,” says Rager. “There are too many lessons to list all of them, but one of the most important is a simple one, ‘Do what you say you’re going to do!’  It’s very important that racers trust us as a company and trust that the Race Department is going to follow through on our promises and responsibilities.”

Carrying the Polaris Race Team torch into the future comes with its own set of challenges, obstacles, and responsibilities. Drawing inspiration from past glory is one of primary motivators behind reclaiming the crown for any race team in motorsports. You will find the very same mentality and approach at Polaris.

Kody Kamm winning the 2017 Pro Open Championship.

“Kody Kamm winning the ISOC Pro Open Championship in 2017 is still pretty inspiring. Kody went into the last weekend at Lake Geneva second in points, I don’t remember exactly how many, but it was a sizable deficit. Lake Geneva was three rounds of racing and Kody won all six rounds of qualifying and went 1-2-1 in the three finals to win the Championship. It was an amazing example of never giving up and fighting to the finish!”

As for what’s next for the Polaris Race Team, the future of snowmobile racing innovation is in good hands. Rager explains, “We are always looking for new innovations that we can learn from in racing that will ultimately work their way into the consumer sleds. There are so many possibilities with today’s technology, but all of that comes with a cost. In today’s environment, we have to be financially responsible and evaluate which innovations can give us the best return on investment.”

Polaris is working around the clock to deliver on its promises both on the track and in the showroom. With a positive attitude like that, success is sure to follow. After all, the whole point of racing is to emerge victorious. How you define victory can go a long way towards measuring success. For Polaris, success begins with the rider experience, whether that’s a professional racer or a leisurely rider taking the scenic route on the trails.

Question: How are you and the rest of the Polaris team feeling about the upcoming 2023-2024 Snocross season?

Answer: There’s been some changes with teams and racers for the upcoming season, but everyone is very confident that we will have a successful season.

Q: How much interaction and feedback is there between some of your top Polaris athletes and your sled engineering or R&D team? Do you look for ways to optimize your racing sleds through communication with some of your riders?

A: We have engineers at almost every race so our top racers work directly with our engineers at the race track and at test sessions.

Q: Is there anything you would like to tell upcoming amateur, semi-pro, or professional snowmobile racers who are looking for a new sled?

A: One thing I would point out to any Snocross racer who is deciding which brand to ride is take a look at our commitment to support at the race track. We bring our support trailer to every ISOC National to support racers at every level. Out of that trailer we carry any part they would need, provide suspension tuning advice, clutch tuning advice, and shock rebuilding service.

Q: What kind of path do you suggest ambitious young Snocross enthusiasts should take if they want to eventually land a career working behind the scenes with a professional snowmobile racing crew such as the Polaris Race Team?

A: There are always teams and racers that are looking for help on race weekends or help with maintenance during the week. My advice to someone that wants to work in this field is to find someone like that who is looking and start there. Then, be a sponge and absorb as much information and skills as possible and build from there.

Q. Just a shot in the dark here, but is there any chance you can share the horsepower and torque specs of the engine used in the 2024 Polaris 600R?

A: We don’t share those numbers! LOL

Polaris has a stable of both rising stars and proven veterans competing for podiums throughout every form of professional snowmobile competition on the planet. In Polaris Race Director Thomas Rager’s own words, “We have high expectations for all of our racers so I think it’s unfair to only point out a few. We pride ourselves on being competitive in every discipline of snowmobile racing, that’s something the other brands can’t say.”

However, for the purpose of previewing the upcoming Snocross season, here is the complete list of Polaris Athletes you will see on the Snocross National Tour this year:

Emil Harr             

Kody Kamm       

Oskar Norum    

Adam Peterson

Ryley Bester      

Travis Kern         

Evan Christian   

Eric Downs         

Tyler Archibault

Bailey Forst        

Cam Cole            

Domenic Hegman           

Isaac Peterson 

Zak Farmer        

Carter Meyeran

Inanna Hauger  

Andy Leiders     

You can see the complete list of Polaris riders across every professional snowmobile competition discipline here. As for the Polaris Snocross racers, they will be riding the 600R this upcoming season.

At the end of the day, the fine print is easy to understand with this sled. When Polaris says the 2024 600R is “built to push the limits of racing”, they mean it. This feat is accomplished by the blood, sweat, and tears of the entire team from engineering to incorporating rider feedback. 

Next time you are enjoying your Polaris snowmobile on your day off, just remember it’s made possible by somebody who is doing the same thing you love to do. That passion is what always brings snowmobile enthusiasts together for a cup of hot cocoa after a ride over the unpacked snow.

To catch a glimpse of the all-new 2024 Polaris 600R in person, all you have to do is attend any Snocross event this season. The action gets started on December 15-16 at Mt. Zion Ski Hill in Ironwood, Michigan. You’re not going to want to miss a single minute of high-flying, weather-defying Snocross racing this year. The forecast calls for a blizzard of action this season!

For more information about the 2023-2024 AMSOIL Championship Snocross season, visit www.snocross.com. You can tune in all season-long, live on www.FloRacing.com. Event day schedules and tickets will become available in the coming months at snocross.com.

This post was originally published on this site

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