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2013 Duluth Download: The Rest of the Story


(12/2/2013)

This was the 22nd year of the Duluth National snocross opener. I've been to every one of them, which makes me old, grizzled and reflective of this event's place in the world of snowmobile racing.

Snocross is a bit of an anomaly in the snowmobile racing industry, with its largest participation event kicking off the season. Other forms of racing typically experience their biggest events either in the middle of the season (Eagle River, I-500) or towards the end of the racing calendar (Jackson Hole).

As such, the vibe at Duluth is always extra-electric... like it's 220v instead of 110.

 

2013 Duluth snocross. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

A customary scan of the pits every year gives a visual indication of health and racer participation of national snocross. It probably also says something about the North American economy, as families (rightly) look long and hard before leaping into an expensive hobby.

This year the parking lot appeared to hold an additional row or two of haulers, which bodes well for the season.

 

2013 Duluth snocross. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Fan participation was also stellar this year. It's impossible to trust the spectator numbers given for any racing event. I trust my eyes though, and what they saw indicates that people were okay with $47 weekend gate fee (which doesn't include parking or food/drink) or $27 daily fee.

As more than one person mentioned to me during the weekend, "Everything costs so damn much money these days!"

 

Team Arctic Parts and Accessories trailer.

There's a new face or two inside the Team Arctic Parts/Accessory trailer this season, but they're anything but new to this kind of endeavor. Brian Rust (right) will handle the job this season, along with the occasional assistance from his dad, Butch.

Back in the old OLD days, when I got into this industry, Butch operated "Rusty's Parts Express," the Polaris race parts trailer. He was a top cross-country racer who passed along the same skills and passion to Brian (who achieved success in oval, cross-country and snocross).

It's good to have these guys wearing green.

 

FOX Racing Shox tech wiz Rick Strobel. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The cold (and sometimes snowy) weather that graced the snowbelt early this year has had a profound effect on snocross, as most racers and teams have logged WAY more pre-Duluth practice laps than most years. The positive effect is that nearly everyone came into Duluth better prepared and more relaxed, which meant I saw more smiles this year than any in recent memory.

Rick Strobel, the head tech guy at FOX Shox, is always good for a smile and few words of wisdom. He's spent a lot of days at the various practice tracks in Minnesota, working with the teams to fine-tune calibration on this year's crop of race sleds.

 

Team Arctic's Anson and Aaron Scheele. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Team Arctic's Aaron Scheele (right) was also sporting a familiar smile. He's doing double-duty at the National events this year: as lead mechanic and food service for his son Anson's race effort; and as an assistant to ISOC's race director.

 

Team Arctic's Carson Alread. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Since I skipped the Friday events this year to properly digest my Thanksgiving turkey, I didn't stroll onto the track until late Saturday morning. By sheer coincidence, one of the first action shots I captured was of Carson Alread, a very-fast dude from Gaylord, Mich. Carson captured the win in Transition 8-12.

Alread's win was one of nine class victories for Team Arctic this weekend, the most of any manufacture (Polaris had five, Ski-Doo had one). Likewise, Team Green captured 22 of the 45 available podium positions (again, the most of any brand), with at least one rider on the podium in 13 of 15 finals.

Indeed, it was truly an awesome weekend for Team Arctic, and a LONG ways from the long faces of a couple seasons ago when the then-new ProCross-based Sno Pro 600 debuted. The bugs that hampered that first year race sled have long since been worked out.

Taking off my Arctic Cat underwear for a moment, I'd say the three brands competing with 600cc race sleds appear fairly equal, although perhaps the Ski-Doo is a titch (yes, that's a word) behind.

Team Arctic still has fewer total racers than the other two brands, yet won nearly twice as many finals as Polaris and nine times more than Ski-Doo. I think that says a lot about Arctic Cat machines, teams and drivers.

 

Team Arctic's Ryley Bester. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Ryley Bester almost made it 10 wins for Cat. Competing in Jr. Novice 10-13, Bester holeshot and lead the final for a few laps until he was overtaken by another rider. He finished second, but I suspect he'll take a win or two this season. He's fast.

 

 

Team Arctic racer Jay Lura. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Jay Lura is another very-fast dude who, along with some guy named Tucker, delivered one of the two double-victories of the weekend. Lura's wins came in the Amateur classes.

Nice job, Jay!

 

Team Arctic Sport winner Tyler Adams and family. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Another Cat win came at the hands of Tyler Adams, who won Sport #2. This was Tyler's first win in the Sport class at a national, and it was cool to see his raw emotion flowing on the podium as he was flanked by his dad Mark and mechanic Mike Hass.

I missed getting a shot of Team Arctic's Travis Kern (sorry Travis!), who won the other Sport final at Duluth. In all, Arctic Cat truly dominated the foundation classes.

 

Team Arctic Pro woman winner Marica Renheim. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Sweden's Marica Renheim will race the full ISOC National schedule in Pro Am Women this season, and she kicked it off with a commanding win at Duluth.

 

Christian Bros. Racing team celebrates Renheim's win. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Renheim is racing with the Christian Brothers Racing/DRIFT team.

Actually, CBR is more like a family than they are a team. Here they pose with Renheim following her big win.

 

Team Arctic's Filip Eriksson. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Filip Eriksson is another Swedish racer who showed blazing speed at Duluth, finishing fourth in Pro Lite #1.

 

Team Arctic Pro Josh Zelinski. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Josh Zelinski continues to be a force in the Pro AM +30 class, taking third place at Duluth despite a busy fall that prevented him from much pre-event practice.

 

Team Arctic's Corey Watkinson. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Pro Lite was the only class that Team Arctic didn't capture a podium position, but it wasn't for a lack of possibility. Corey Watkinson won multiple heats throughout the weekend and holeshotted the Pro Lite #2 final, but was tagged by another rider in the rhythm section and finished 11th.

 

Pro Lite #2 Race start at Duluth snocross. Photo ArcticInsider.com

Here's the start of the Pro Lite #2 final. In addition to Watkinson, Riley McClelland and Matt Pichner were the other two Team Arctic racers on the front row.

 

Winner of the best race pullover contest.

The winner of the Best Race Pullover contest.

 

Matt Piche on the Yamaha snocross sled. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Like many of the fans at Duluth, I was curious about Yamaha's race effort, which consists of Arctic Cat ZR6000R Sno Pro race chassis with the 7000-series Yamaha engines.

What I saw suggests that these machines are capable of slotting into the top-4 on the first lap, but then fade with each lap. Whether that speaks to the machines or the riders (or both), I'm not entirely sure.

I know I heard a lot of fans asking to see Tucker Hibbert race one of these engines in his sled, which would indeed be pretty interesting.

 

Arctic Cat snowmobile engineer Lynn Berberich.

As has always been the case at Duluth, there were a contingent of Arctic Cat engineers on hand to watch, talk and learn. One such engineer was Lynn Berberich, who is the Team Leader of the TUF (Touring, Utility, Family) category of Arctic Cat sleds.

 

Arctic Cat engineers Brian Dick and Dayne Efta.

Engineers Brian Dick (left) and Dayne Efta (middle) were also paying close attention to the action at Duluth. Brian is the High Performance Team leader, which includes the race sleds, while Dayne is a CAD engineer who "draws" the machines.

Lots of smiles from these two guys during the weekend.

(On the right: Brian's fiancé Alicia, who was surprised to learn that Brian pays me $50 for every photo/story I publish about him.)

 

Christian Brothers Racing trailer. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Inside the Christian Brothers Racing trailer, the crew preps the Pro Open sleds of Logan Christian and David Joanis, the latter of whom is new to the team (and the Pro Open class) for 2014.

 

Cody Thomsen & Dan Ebert. Factory Team Arctic. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Next to the CBR team, the Factory Team Arctic trailer showed a similar hustle of activity prepping Cody Thomsen's sled. Thomsen (left) chats with team manager Dan Ebert following Thomsen's excellent heat results.

 

Factory Team Arctic snocross team. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The routine for all the Pro teams is to bring the sled into the trailer after each heat. They use compressed air to blow out all of the accumulated snow and water; download the VIP data; make necessary adjustments; then inspect the machine before heading back out for the next race.

 

Kirk Hibbert and Steve Houle. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

There was a TOTALLY low-key, easy-going vibe inside the Monster Energy/Arctic Cat race trailer of Tucker Hibbert. The combination of an abundant pre-season practice laps and a nicely evolved race sled made for a seriously high level of confidence for the crew.

Here Kirk Hibbert (left) shares a laugh with Steve Houle of Speedwerx. The Speedwerx motor packages continue to be among the best in the entire Pro Open class, and Houle's knowledge of clutching is second to none.

That too added to the confidence level.

 

Tucker Hibbert, Roger Skime, Kirk Hibbert and Garth Kaufman. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

L-to-R: Tucker Hibbert, Roger Skime, Kirk Hibbert and Garth Kaufman compare notes and observations as they prep Tucker's sled for the weekend.

 

Team Arctic pro's in action. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Bar-to-bar action in a Pro Open heat on Saturday evening.

 

Team Arctic's Mike Bauer. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Mike Bauer is new to Team Arctic for this season. He finished 12th in the first Pro Open final, but didn't qualify for the second final.

 

David Joanis - Team Arctic/Christian Bros. Racing/DRIFT. Photo ArcticInsider.com

David Joanis proved his switch to Arctic Cat and jump into the Pro Open class were great decisions. He finished 8th and 10th in the two finals, and looked very quick and comfortable on the new machines.

 

Logan Christian - Team Arctic/Christian Bros. Racing/DRIFT. Photo ArcticInsider.com

Likewise, Logan Christian appears to have found another gear. He was within striking distance of the podium on Saturday, finishing fourth, then backed it up with a fifth place on Sunday.

 

Factory Team Arctic racer Cody Thomsen. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Coming off of a season-ending injury early last year, there was a big question mark about Factory Team Arctic racer Cody Thomsen heading into Duluth.

Would he be healthy and ready to race? Would missing most of last season hamper his speed or intensity?

Thomsen answered those questions by nailing the holeshot and leading the first Pro Open final. He would get passed by Tucker Hibbert, but maintained his speed to finish second, his first-ever Pro Open podium!

It was an emotional and satisfying start of the season for Thomsen and the entire Factory crew.

 

Factory Team Arctic's Cody Thomsen. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Thomsen brought serious momentum into the second Pro Open final. Early in the race, while passing Amsoil rider Tim Tremblay for third place, Tremblay fell off his sled. And in one of the most mind-boggling calls I've seen in a LONG time, ISOC officials black-flagged Thomsen.

I was standing in the corner that the supposed infraction occurred, and I'm at a complete loss to understand the decision. Thomsen was even with or even slightly ahead of Tremblay. Thomsen had the inside line. The contact between the two machines appeared minor at most, but certainly not the fault of either racer. There were huge sharp-edged holes in the line both riders were taking, which appeared to me the true "cause" of Tremblay's fall.

Until I see video replay of the incident that proves my own eyes were wrong, I'm inclined to believe the decision to black flag Thomsen had more to do with Tremblay's sponsor than whatever actually occurred on the track.

 

Monster Energy/Team Arctic Cat's Tucker Hibbert. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

By now everyone in the free world has heard about Tucker Hibbert's outstanding performance at Duluth.

He not only won, but he lapped the entire field on Saturday and lapped through fourth place on Sunday. He was on an entirely different level than anyone else... even more than usual. He was alien... from another planet.

I've seen a lot of dominant performances over the years by many great racers, but I've never seen anything like what Hibbert did at Duluth.

Obviously this is racing and anything can happen, but from what I saw at Duluth, the only real drama remaining this season is who will finish second (and will Tucker lap them)?

 

Monster Energy/Team Arctic Cat Tucker Hibbert. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Tucker Hibbert - Monster Energy/Team Arctic Cat. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Tucker Hibbert - Monster Energy/Team Arctic Cat. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Kirk and Tucker Hibbert. Team Arctic legends. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Tucker Hibbert - Monster Energy/Team Arctic Cat. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Congratulations to all the Team Arctic racers and crew for an outstanding performance at Duluth! There's A LOT to smile about (even if you have a goofy grin).

Thanks for reading.



Comments (23):

SnoX says:
12/3/2013 12:33:00 PM

Not to be "that guy" but in your pro womens section you stated samantha tarnowski is a team arctic rider, she actually rides for anderson racing ski-doo.
eric nelms says:
12/3/2013 2:16:00 PM

Great pictures John. Snowing like crazy up here. Looking good for New Years.
Mark Boeckmann says:
12/3/2013 2:32:00 PM

What a terrific weekend for racing, and Cat. They should come back now with all this snow!!
John Sandberg says:
12/3/2013 3:28:00 PM

SnoX: Thx for the correction. Fixed.
mike / wrench for 705 says:
12/3/2013 3:46:00 PM

john , in regards to TA705, i would love to take the credit for team owner, but i am just the guy who puts his machines together and keeps them going, christian bros racing and mike kloety/arctic cat should get the credit for making tylers dream come true, he is actually part of the christian bros team. it has been a pleasure to watch him grow up and mature into the young man and racer he has become, i feel privileged to be a part of tylers racing. tylers dad marc, myself, my daughter kailee, and mike schultz(not the pro rider) had been racing together for years, it has been a great ride. i do want to give a shout out to christian bros racing and mike kloety / arctic cat , without them, this would not have been possible.
mike hass
mike / wrench for 705 says:
12/3/2013 3:53:00 PM

i want to add, thanks for recognizing his efforts, we love the web site!
John Sandberg says:
12/3/2013 4:01:00 PM

Mike: LOL, I got a slightly different description of your role from a not-to-be-named friend of ours.

I knew CBR was the team, I should have mentioned that but I like it when Dwight is mad at me.

Seeing Tyler on the podium, so grateful and emotional and full of what appeared to be happiness and relief... seriously gave me chills. You guys have worked so hard, congratulations!
Paul Nadeau says:
12/3/2013 5:57:00 PM

Another great story and photo's! I watched the races through Live stream, it got frustrating at times and when it came to some of the major races, the live stream went dead. Thankfully they got it back up and running Saturday night to see Tucker's amazing feat. He sure makes it look easy! Congratulations to all Arctic Cat teams for a successful weekend!
I bleed green! says:
12/3/2013 7:25:00 PM

Stories like these are why I love this website. John, even those who were at the races will likely learn something new, and those who weren't, like me, get a first hand look at what went on. I hope you will be able to be at pine lake, I will definitely say hi if I see you.

thanks again John...
Mike Mattson says:
12/3/2013 9:14:00 PM

John: Thank you very much for the great coverage of Team Arctic and the factory activities that you have shared with us throughout the year. I am impressed with the quality of your photos. Those shots of the racers in mid air were fantastic. I look forward to seeing what is new on your site each evening. It is great to see all the great results from Duluth. You guys and gals make us Cat owners proud. Go Cat!!
John Zanon says:
12/3/2013 10:27:00 PM

Off to a good start!
I remember 2 years ago, Mike Kloety asked me who the young up and comers are that race at the Wisconsin regional are?
I told him Tyler Adams and Colin Kernz.
I can't say how happy I am to see Tyler Adams have success, but now it's time for Colin Kernz and his younger brother Brayden to rise to the top...I know I'm not going to be wrong with my picks. Everyone looks strong, especially Christian Bros. Racing Team. Congratulations, everyone!
Thanks John, for the great site!
Shannon W. says:
12/4/2013 12:12:00 AM

Tucker is on the 3rd year of this chassis, LOOK OUT!! He is so dialed in to that sled you could set your watch to it! GO TEAM ARCTIC CAT!!!
betty lura says:
12/4/2013 6:10:00 AM

Awesome pictures. Arctic cat does a great job.

Allen Teach says:
12/4/2013 5:46:00 PM

John:
Could you share with us, maybe in an "Arctical" some of your photo taking techniques? Maybe your camera set-up, settings, dealing with cold etc.? I have an older Canon EOS but always experience a shutter delay in action shots and the photos I take look like they were taken by a monkey.
Gleiciano says:
10/9/2015 2:26:00 AM

Your facts are unacceptable. Your true iofmrnation is irrelevant. Besides, your racist! And you're probably an eeeevvviiilll capitalist in the pay of oil companies, too! So there!
Gleiciano says:
10/9/2015 2:26:00 AM

Your facts are unacceptable. Your true iofmrnation is irrelevant. Besides, your racist! And you're probably an eeeevvviiilll capitalist in the pay of oil companies, too! So there!
Gleiciano says:
10/9/2015 2:27:00 AM

Your facts are unacceptable. Your true iofmrnation is irrelevant. Besides, your racist! And you're probably an eeeevvviiilll capitalist in the pay of oil companies, too! So there!
Jay says:
10/11/2015 5:57:00 AM

? Repent. To repent is to make a commtiment to be a different person than you were before. To think, speak, and act differently. Romans says the old is dead so the new can live. But that requires a different life. That requires a changed life. That looks too much like salvation by works for some theologians and leaders. However we feel about it, it is the Truth, and it is the gospel. We are not saved by works but for them.Peace. http://dgmgbgc.com [url=http://avobqt.com]avobqt[/url] [link=http://vmrdmrfzhm.com]vmrdmrfzhm[/link]
Jay says:
10/11/2015 5:57:00 AM

? Repent. To repent is to make a commtiment to be a different person than you were before. To think, speak, and act differently. Romans says the old is dead so the new can live. But that requires a different life. That requires a changed life. That looks too much like salvation by works for some theologians and leaders. However we feel about it, it is the Truth, and it is the gospel. We are not saved by works but for them.Peace. http://dgmgbgc.com [url=http://avobqt.com]avobqt[/url] [link=http://vmrdmrfzhm.com]vmrdmrfzhm[/link]
Jay says:
10/11/2015 5:57:00 AM

? Repent. To repent is to make a commtiment to be a different person than you were before. To think, speak, and act differently. Romans says the old is dead so the new can live. But that requires a different life. That requires a changed life. That looks too much like salvation by works for some theologians and leaders. However we feel about it, it is the Truth, and it is the gospel. We are not saved by works but for them.Peace. http://dgmgbgc.com [url=http://avobqt.com]avobqt[/url] [link=http://vmrdmrfzhm.com]vmrdmrfzhm[/link]
Douglas says:
10/13/2015 1:50:00 AM

John, thanks for your comnmet. The nutritional quality of plants and avoided depletion of soil is very important, great point. Fortunately, there is also discussion happening to determine how the bio-availability (absorption rate) of nutrients in Ready to Eat Therapeutic foods (RUTF) can be further enhanced. RUTF can be priceless in areas where the agricultural prospects are not currently sufficient to produce nutrient-dense foods, but let's hope that the challenges that you've discussed can also be overcome! http://tgcgtwhjm.com [url=http://vsmveeoaa.com]vsmveeoaa[/url] [link=http://xhhzhugry.com]xhhzhugry[/link]
Douglas says:
10/13/2015 1:50:00 AM

John, thanks for your comnmet. The nutritional quality of plants and avoided depletion of soil is very important, great point. Fortunately, there is also discussion happening to determine how the bio-availability (absorption rate) of nutrients in Ready to Eat Therapeutic foods (RUTF) can be further enhanced. RUTF can be priceless in areas where the agricultural prospects are not currently sufficient to produce nutrient-dense foods, but let's hope that the challenges that you've discussed can also be overcome! http://tgcgtwhjm.com [url=http://vsmveeoaa.com]vsmveeoaa[/url] [link=http://xhhzhugry.com]xhhzhugry[/link]
Douglas says:
10/13/2015 1:50:00 AM

John, thanks for your comnmet. The nutritional quality of plants and avoided depletion of soil is very important, great point. Fortunately, there is also discussion happening to determine how the bio-availability (absorption rate) of nutrients in Ready to Eat Therapeutic foods (RUTF) can be further enhanced. RUTF can be priceless in areas where the agricultural prospects are not currently sufficient to produce nutrient-dense foods, but let's hope that the challenges that you've discussed can also be overcome! http://tgcgtwhjm.com [url=http://vsmveeoaa.com]vsmveeoaa[/url] [link=http://xhhzhugry.com]xhhzhugry[/link]

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