MASTERS to Honor Snowmobiler

January 20, 2023

It will be on Feb 4th of the upcoming Vollwerth’s Meats – Wildlife Refuge Cabins WINTERNATIONALS Snowmobile/Snow Bike Hillclimb that a former Hillclimber will be inducted into the MASTERS Hall of Fame.  That is the late Jason Kleinschmidt.

Jason Kleinschmidt WINTERNATIONALS 2020

This past April Kleinschmidt lost his 5 year battle with Cancer.

While Kleinschmidt resided in Merrill, Wisconsin, his ‘home’ could have been in the Copper Country.  It was in our area that the Snowmobiler spent a lot of his time.  The 47 year old invested a lot of his time behind the scenes of Hillclimbs, Snow Drags, and Terra-X Courses.

It was Kleinschmidt and his son, Michael, which set up the courses before the races, then was an official during the races, and concluded the weekend by tearing down all the equipment and hauling it back to Ontonagon.

Jason Skid Steer Snow Removal

He was also a successful racer and hillclimber.  He was a Champion in the Pro Stock 600 and Pro Stock 700 Classes at different MASTERS Snow Drags.  He also took the Pro Stock King of the Hill at a Hillclimb in Florence, Wisconsin.  

It was at that Hillclimb that he was able to ‘live out a dream.’  That was to represent 5 Midwestern States at the World Championship Hillclimb in Jackson, Wyoming.   He was a proud member of the elite Pat’s Motorsports Yamaha Race Team.

MASTERS Mtn Lions 120 Mod Top 3 March 2017

He continued to work for the MASTERS and race even when Cancer set in.  “We knew he didn’t feel good, but he just didn’t want to give up,” commented his son, Michael.  “What meant so much to him was after winning at the Drag Races in Marquette, the racers, led by Pat’s Motorsports, donated ALL of their race winning to him.”

That was close to $2000 that the racers gave to Kleinschmidt at the Awards Ceremony!

It was right up to 2 months before he passed away that he decided to leave the Froedert Medical Center in Milwaukee and go home.  In addition to being with his family, he wanted to be an Official at the Copper Peak Hillclimb.

“Dad wanted to see the return of the Copper Peak Hillclimb.  It was at Copper Peak where he started competing in Hillclimbs.  It (Copper Peak) meant a lot to him,” explained Michael.  “Mom didn’t think he would feel good enough to be there, much less be in the Officials Trailer.”

Little over 2 months later, Kleinschmidt passed away.  Before he died, numerous MASTERS Racers and Officials made the trek to Merrill to show their appreciation and love for all that he did for the Circuit and the Sport.

Unlike many other Hall of Fames, the MASTERS has not inducted individuals on an annual basis.  Since those that brought Professional and Sanctioned Snowmobile Hillclimbs to the Copper Country in 1991, Kleinschmidt will be one of only 8 people in their Hall of Fame.  They have not put anyone in their Hall of Fame since 2020, when Kip McIntyre of Greenland and Wyler Miller of Pelkie joined this prestigious group.

The group of Hall of Famers includes fellow Pat’s Motorsports Drag Racer and Hillclimber, Al Turin of Greenland.  A member of the first class of Hall of Famers includes Drag Racer, Matt LaCosse of Champion.

Two of the most successful Snowmobile Drag Racers in the entire Midwest are in the MASTERS Hall of Fame.  That is teammates from the Copper Country, Jerry Buschell and Paul Voelker.  Buschell’s wife recently posted on Social Media as how this award meant the most to Jerry.  

Buschell is from Lake Linden and Voelker is from Laurium.

The Hillclimber that has competed at the World Championship in Wyoming more than any other driver from Michigan is Layne Stank.  Stank is from Menomonee.

It is Stank’s son, Jordan that is one of only 2 MASTERS Racers to advance to the Finals of the World Championship.  Jordan is a Michigan Tech Graduate and former member of the MTU Sledheads and the Clean Snowmobile Challenge.  He will be one of the top Hillclimbers competing at both Hillclimbs in South Range.

The MASTERS Hall of Fame now has only 8 members.  Close to 1000 snowmobilers have competed in MASTERS events over the last 25 years.

Jason Kleinschmidt Jordan Stank WI State Champ Hillclimb

The MASTERS hopes many past and current racers will be at the first day of the WINTERNATIONALS Hillclimb in South Range on Feb 4th.  Kleinschmidt’s Widow, Tanya, Daughter Amber, and Son’s Michael and Mathew plan to attend the ceremony.

“I know it would mean a lot to my Dad if those that raced, those that came to the races. And past officials would be there to ‘thank’ Dad for all that he did.  Our family knows that Jason will be looking down on us, as he rides the clouds above the Copper Country,” concluded Michael.

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