ALTON 2016 — Nothing beats the rush of racing for Tucker Kierstead, and each time he boards a snowmobile in organized competition, he's a threat to win. The 15-year-old Alton student is entering his eighth season of racing in East Coast Snocross, and has taken his game to an all-new level in 2016.
Last weekend, Kierstead, a freshman at Prospect Mountain High School, competed in 12 snocross races in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and captured first place in every one of them.
"Snocross is very challenging," Kierstead said. "I like the reward of winning a race almost as much as the speed involved to achieve a victory."
He's racing this year in the Junior 14-15 and Junior 16-17 classes on an Arctic Cat ZR600 snowmobile, and is sponsored locally by Andrew’s Marine Service and Eastern Propane.
Snocross racers compete using specialized high performance snowmobiles on natural or artificially-made tracks. Racers maneuver through a series of tight turns, banked corners, steep jumps and obstacles.
Snocross racers can reach speeds of up to 60 meters per hour and encounter jumps up to 30 feet tall, with riders traveling up to 130 feet before touching the ground.
He started in the sport at the age of 6, and it was a natural progression for him after riding dirt bikes and feeling the need for speed.
Kierstead said he believes his wins in Plattsburgh show his passion for snocross racing and a fierce commtment to winning.
"Losing is absolutely the worst aspect of all of it for me," he said. "I don't like it one bit. So I've dedicated myself to doing the best I can, and this year I've separated myself from the pack and really taken off."
To help ramp up his successful gameplan for this season, Kierstead has connected with Jeremy Jorgensen of Core Dynamix in Alton.
Jorgensen has worked closely with Kierstead to specifically pinpoint and develop those areas that Kierstead will use this year to help gain the winning edge over his competition.
For the 2016 season, his AMS racing team has joined forces with Kislowski Racing and All Seasons Arctic Cat Racing Team, providing national sponsorship through Arctic Cat, as well as the combined support of a larger race team.
With more prominent national sponsors, Kierstead hopes the relationship leads to further opportunities and exposure for his racing career.
"I'd really like to compete in a snocross circuit in the midwest," he said. "There are some really good racers there, and hopefully someday I'll be included as part of that group too."
When he’s not riding his snowmobile, Kierstead plays soccer and enjoys wakeboarding in his spare time.
"Most of my friends at school don't know what it is that I'm competing in," he said. "They really don't seem to care a lot about it. They joke with me about it, but it's okay. I am staying focused on doing the best I can when I'm racing."
New Hampshire is not on the East Coast Snocross race schedule this season, but Kierstead will travel to venues in New England including Vermont, Connecticut and Maine to compete.
This weekend, he will race in the second annual Paul Bunyan Snocross in Bangor, Maine and hopes to duplicate his success in Plattsburgh.
"For me, the best part of the competition is being on the track and just riding my snowmobile," he said. "It doesn't get any better than that."
Those interested in following Kierstead’s race results this season can do so online at www.eastcoastsnocross.com.