IRONWOOD — Professional snocross racer Kyle Pallin of Ironwood recently celebrated his 22nd birthday — in Sweden.
It wasn’t that Pallin has become a jet-setter flying all over the world. After finishing his second season as a pro in the Amsoil Championship Snocross Series, he was invited by a Swedish friend, Mats Lauger, to culminate his season with four races in Sweden.
Lauger had raced on the American circuit and he and Pallin became friends during the 2011-12 racing season. Lauger set Pallin up for the races in Sweden and even found him a Polaris snowmobile, which was the kind he drove in the United States.
“He was my sponsor for the trip,” Pallin said. “All he said was, ‘Book your plane ticket.’”
Pallin said he went all over Sweden, but Lauger set him up with a place to live in Pittea on his three-week stay.
Pallin quickly realized that Sweden, its people and their lifestyle were much different than the U.S.
“Everything is smaller,” Pallin said. “The houses are real small, big enough only for what you really need. There’s only one bathroom, not three or four. You hardly ever see big trucks. There’s lots of stick-shift, manual small cars and that’s probably because gas is something like $7 a gallon.
“Even food portions are smaller and the majority of the population is very fit. In Pittea, there’s only one fast food place for 40,000 people. Everybody’s pretty laid back and they seem to live a simple life. Material items are not as important as they are to us in the U.S. The people are very friendly.”
Pallin also found out that the snocross racing tracks in Sweden were much different than in America. In his first race in a town called Alusbyon, the race course and the laps were “really long” compared to U.S. tracks. There were no big jumps like in America, but there were lots of whoops (big bumps 6-8 feet tall in a row). Another difference was that the Swedish racing snow was hard and icy.
After a bad start, Pallin worked his way up to a fourth-place finish.
Pallin wasn’t looking to make excuses, but he didn’t have a long time to plan out the trip, so some of his snocross equipment was left behind and that made it difficult for him. Pallin wants to return to Sweden next year, but he is going to make sure one of his own snowmobiles is shipped overseas by boat.
His second race was “Class of Nations” in Fallun, Sweden in which snocross racers from Russia, Sweden, Norway, Finland and the U.S. competed. With 10,000 spectators in attendance, Pallin qualified well but ran into some bad luck and placed sixth.
Pallin’s third race at Funasdalen had a type of racing called stadioncross. These tracks tended to be a little smaller with tighter corners. There were lots of jumps and a few whoops, but it was back to icy, hard snow and Pallin crossed the finish line in fourth place.
The final race was in Karlsborg, which featured the stadioncross-type racing. Pallin finished sixth but considered the trip worthwhile.
“It was a great experience,” Pallin said. “Overall, I’m happy I went.”
During his recent season on the Amsoil Championship Snocross circuit, Pallin finished seventh in overall points. He moved up four spots from his rookie season.
“Personally, I’m happy with my season, but I can’t be satisfied,” Pallin said. “There were a lot of positives, but I want to be No. 1. I’m definitely looking forward to improving.
“The first half (of the season) was up and down. The second half I was pulling things together better. There was a combination of a few different things going on early with a new team, new snowmobile (Polaris IQ 600) and a new atmosphere. I had to get used to things.”
A co-owner of Team LaValle, Levi LaValle, also became a mentor to Pallin, who is still pretty inexperienced in the world of pro snocross racing.
“He was a big help to me,” Pallin said. “You have to find a program that works for you in training, eating and sleeping. I got a lot closer to what I need from my training.”
And just getting more racing experience continues to help Pallin to be a better racer in the world of pro snocross.
One of the happiest moments of the season for Pallin and his contingent of hometown fans came on Dec. 8 when he got his first heat race win at the Blackjack National race at Blackjack Ski Resort near Bessemer.