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2012 TLR Cup Winner: Q&A with P.J. Wanderscheid


(2/17/2012)

P.J. Wanderscheid 2012 TLR Cup winner on Arctic Cat

This past weekend Team Arctic oval racing phenom P.J. Wanderscheid captured the TLR Cup Championship and the $25,000 check that went with the title! In just its second year, the TLR Cup is THE most important Champ-class series in oval racing.

I had a chance to talk with P.J. about winning the title, and his 2012 season (thus far).

 

AI: Congratulations on winning the TLR Cup! Since it’s a fairly new oval title, can you explain exactly what it is?

P.J.: It’s a six race series at select events in Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was founded by Tommy Lipar, a businessman who loves oval racing and wanted to sponsor a premier series.

This year the weather forced some rescheduling, including running three rounds during the final race weekend in Weyauwega, Wis.

As it turned out we won one of these three races and finished high enough in the other two to take the title, which we’re really proud of.

 

P.J. Wanderscheid 2012 TLR Cup winner on Arctic Cat

AI: Were you more interested in winning the TLR Cup than winning any particular event?

P.J.: When we go to a track, we want to win. And that’s how we approached the first few races. But when we went into this past weekend, with three races taking place, we played it a bit more conservatively. I raced with my head a little more than with my heart.

Going into the final event of the weekend, three of us had mathematical chance, although the most likely scenario was that it would be me or Malcolm Chartier who would take the title. So during the final race my eyes were on Malcolm. I was happy to finish fourth in the final, because I knew it meant winning the cup.

 

P.J. Wanderscheid 2012 TLR Cup winner on Arctic Cat

AI: That was a hefty payday for winning the Cup. I’m not aware of any other snowmobile championship that pays anything close to that, are you?

P.J.: The closest big payday for oval racing is the Eagle River Worlds Championship, which has paid $20,000 to win the past couple of years, which is also huge.

But yes, the TLR Cup is an enormous payout, because in addition to the $25,000 that we won, second place won $12,000 and $8,000 went to third. In total, the TLR Cup paid out more than $100,000! We’re very, very fortunate that Tommy Lipar likes oval racing.

 

AI: Your brother Mark also won an award at the TLR banquet.

P.J.: Yep, he won Crew Chief of the Year, which is something I believe he deserved. I know than many of the mechanics work extremely hard on building race sleds. I know the hours Mark puts in and frankly there isn’t more work that he could do. He literally thinks about and/or works on our race sled 24/7/365. He’s always moving forward, and I owe my success to him and the team.

 

P.J. Wanderscheid 2012 TLR Cup winner on Arctic Cat

AI: I know you place a heavy emphasis on winning the Eagle River Worlds Championships, where you came up a bit short this year. Does winning the TLR Cup take away a little of that sting?

P.J.: Definitely! We know we can’t win every race. Eagle River is of course very special to us (P.J. is the only four-time winner. –Ed.), and it’s our first goal for the season. But winning the TLR Cup was our second goal. 

Prior to the TLR Cup, after Eagle weekend, there was always a bit of a letdown for our team. Now with Cup, there’s still huge enthusiasm.

So yes, winning the TLR Cup definitely helps us get past the disappointment of not winning Eagle River.  

 

AI: Tell me your version of how the Eagle River final went for you.

P.J.: It didn’t go as planned. The main thing that we fought all weekend was getting a holeshot. We just couldn’t find it, and in the final I wasn’t even close. I think I was 10th after final restart. That’s a lot of distance to make up, and with the competitiveness of that class, 10th isn’t good enough.

I was running second in the final, and late in the race I tried to go around Schulz on the low line. Turns out that wasn’t the best choice, as I got passed by three guys. But I felt I had to try something.

The Champ class is so competitive now that every aspect of your sled and line choice is critical. There are no more huge gains to be found. The sleds are so refined. Now we’re looking for two feet on a holeshot, or one-tenth of a mph.

 

AI: Your team built a completely new sled for this season. How has that worked for you?

P.J.: The new sled works great. The crew talked after Eagle River and pretty much said that we could put on bubble wrap on it and save it for next year. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a better sled. I’ve raced it all season long and its handling is ideal on smooth or rough tracks. I can run high or low lines with equal ease.

We built it using a combination of aspects from each of the last three sleds we’ve raced, honing in on the best aspects of each.

 

AI: Going into the season, your plan was to contest the Soo 500 enduro. What changed your mind about racing there?

P.J.: It was a scheduling conflict with one of the TLR races (in Ogilvie, Minn.). As it turned out, Ogilvie was cancelled because of weather, but not until Tuesday of Soo week, so it wouldn’t have worked out.  

 

AI: What’s on tap for the remainder of this season?

P.J.: We have three more races: Grey Eagle, Minn., Garrison, and Beausejour, Manitoba, for the 50th running of the CPTC. We’ve won the CPTC the last two years, so would be nice to three-peat.

 

AI: In the “Drive for Five” video that FlyingAFilms did on you, you kind of hinted about not having a lot of time left in your career. Can you explain what you meant by that?

P.J.: I have two more years for sure. After that, we’ll have to take a serious look at the situation. I’m 28-years old, married with a young child. I don’t get to see them much during the race season, and I don’t want it to always be that way. And I also want to start riding snowmobiles, just for fun.

So we’ll see where we’re at two years from now. There’s still a lot of racing in those next two years.

P.J. Wanderscheid 2012 TLR Cup winner on Arctic Cat



Comments (24):

Bob says:
2/17/2012 7:58:00 AM

A Champion in every sense of the word. Congratulations on your win. It is great to see Mark finally recognized for the hard work he puts into this race effort each year. This is a Team effort and it shows. Congratulations to the entire family.
Gerry Osendorf says:
2/17/2012 9:00:00 AM

I very nice interview. It is nice to hear P.J. giving praise to the crew as this is a TEAM effort. A Class Champion from a Class family owning a Class dearlership.
I'm proud to know all of them personally.
Jerry Martin says:
2/17/2012 1:41:00 PM

Great job P.J. Just sorry we couldn't get up to watch a race this year. I know how much this is not only a team effort , but a great FAMILY effort as well. Keep it up!!!!
Bob says:
2/17/2012 8:36:00 PM

If this is the Osendorf I think it is I could still kick your backside on a ice track. Be nice to be back to those wonderful days.
Darin says:
2/17/2012 11:10:00 PM

congrats. P.J. on the TLR cup!
i'm ready to cheer you on for a 3 peat at the 50'th CPTC races
in Beausejour, good luck!
Darin Martens
Gerry Osendorf says:
2/18/2012 7:56:00 AM

to Bob,
Then next time you "kick my ass" on the ice as you say, will be the first!!
Kevin Hooper says:
2/19/2012 5:39:00 PM

I was fortunate to get a tour of the Country Cat race shop a couple years ago. The Wanderscheid's are very nice people. I sure feel old after reading it though -- I remember seeing PJ breakout as an 18 year old to win the WC in 2002. Now he's talking retirment...
Kelly Marthaler says:
2/19/2012 8:09:00 PM

Hey PJ,

Congratulations to you, Mark, and the Team. It's alway great to see you guys in the thick of it!

Good Luck on the remainder of your races.

Kelly Marthaler
Shaker Arnold says:
2/28/2012 11:12:00 AM

PJ,

Congrats to all on the team, Dave, Mark, Brian, Mom, Dad, heck even Beef, for your had fought victory and claiming the TLR Cup. Marks Crew Chief of the Year award has been a long time coming, great to see him receive such an honor. Your organization is top notch, not only on the track or in the trailer but also on the phone or in the show room. This is why your family does what it does and receives these awards and is the worlds largest and Best Cat dealer!

Great Job by you all!

Lets get that "5"
Cass says:
10/9/2015 1:21:00 AM

Looks great - hope the sun shines.This could be the race of the year. Is there a cap on the nubemrs allowed?For info, the train times that are around the race are:18.30 leaving Cork, getting to Fota at 18:47. That will be enough time to stroll from the station to the start.However the return train is at 20:39 or the next one is 22:24If you are quick, you could run the race and then leg it back to get the train at 20 to 9. A bit tight though!
Cass says:
10/9/2015 1:21:00 AM

Looks great - hope the sun shines.This could be the race of the year. Is there a cap on the nubemrs allowed?For info, the train times that are around the race are:18.30 leaving Cork, getting to Fota at 18:47. That will be enough time to stroll from the station to the start.However the return train is at 20:39 or the next one is 22:24If you are quick, you could run the race and then leg it back to get the train at 20 to 9. A bit tight though!
Cass says:
10/9/2015 1:22:00 AM

Looks great - hope the sun shines.This could be the race of the year. Is there a cap on the nubemrs allowed?For info, the train times that are around the race are:18.30 leaving Cork, getting to Fota at 18:47. That will be enough time to stroll from the station to the start.However the return train is at 20:39 or the next one is 22:24If you are quick, you could run the race and then leg it back to get the train at 20 to 9. A bit tight though!
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