At this weekend's X-Games in Aspen, all of Wes Selby's competitors will be paid to race in the Snowmobile Snocross. Selby, however, is essentially paying to compete.
Raised in Granby where he still lives, Selby is the only privateer racing in the Snocross Sunday.
"Privateer" means "you're paying for everything out of your own pocket," says Selby. "If you're a factory rider, you are getting a salary to race. I have to work all summer to make money to go racing during the winter. I go find my own sponsors on my own time. The trailer I use to go to the races I bought myself. The factory guys aren't paying for anything. They're just showing up and going racing."
Selby will also be looking for his first career win at the International Series of Champions (ISOC) pro-class level.
Selby rides for Jolstad Motorsports, which is owned by Mark Jolstad, part-owner of Comfort Dental in Cherry Creek. And he has some sponsors who help him out with snowmobile parts, but nothing like the funding factory-sponsored riders receive. Selby hangs drywall in the summers to keep his $10,000 sled in racing condition.
"I'd like to take it to the next level where I'm making money and having fun -- where I can focus 100 percent on racing and not worry about getting a job all summer," Selby says. "You get money for making main events and bonuses from sponsors. You're making money, but it's hard when you're paying for everything. So you're breaking even more than anything."
A win at X-Games would go a long way towards ditching the summer gig. "It's the most televised event, and if you're good there, you're pretty much set for the next year," he says. "If you do well at the X-Games, you can approach your sponsors and say, 'You're going to be broadcast on all these televisions.' You can ask for a lot more for the next year."
Selby is experiencing his most successful season to date; he sits in the top ten in points in the ISOC. But his best finish was seventh-place at the Piranha-X Western Nationals in Utah two weeks ago, and he's the only Colorado rider making an impact on the national level. He believes the cost of racing and the abundance of other winter recreational activities steer young riders away from the sport.
But Selby is working to change that -- making himself available to young snowmobilers whenever he gets a chance.
"We have a practice track up here at my house, and a race shop, and we're always bringing kids over and trying to help them out and help the sport grow," he says. "To a kid, that means a lot, because they don't get to do that stuff normally. I'm trying to get some riding schools together at the end of the year where we can bring a bunch of people in at once and do a week-long school."
Before Selby can groom the next generation of Colorado snowmobilers, he wants to make a name (and money) for himself. There's no easier way to do that than to come up big at the X-Games, the sport's biggest stage.
"Being a local, Colorado guy, it would be very cool," says Selby. "There are no races here (in Colorado) where all the good racers come. It would be fun to win. Being from Colorado and hosting it in Colorado, that would be awesome and there would definitely be a big party."
Qualifying rounds for Snocross begin at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday.
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