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Almost Didn't Happen: Brian Dick's XC Win in Detroit Lakes


(1/6/2014)

Brian Dick en route to winning in Detroit Lakes. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Brian Dick’s Pro Stock win at the USXC cross-country in Detroit Lakes, Minn., almost didn’t happen.

Not because of the wicked pace of his teammate Zach Herfindahl, a miscalculation on sled set-up or a mental mistake that would have cost him the win.

Brian’s win almost didn’t happen because he almost stayed home to work on his race sleds.

The story goes like this:

On Friday evening after work, Brian preps his sled, loads it in the back of the pickup and hits the pillow at 1am, intent to race.

A handful of hours later, having dragged himself out of bed and into his truck, he stops at the race shop to grab a few things. And there he sees the two bare chassis that constitute his (and teammate Eric Quam’s) Iron Dog machines.

“Dang, those need A LOT of work before they’re ready for their scheduled shipment to Alaska on Monday,” he thinks to himself.

Overcome by the huge workload staring him in the face, Brian decides to stay and finish building the two sleds. No race for him today.

Meanwhile, in Detroit Lakes (DL), Team Arctic Race Manager Mike Kloety notices Brian is missing from the 2-lap qualifying race that determines the starting order for the Pro Stock final. When he calls Brian, he hears the explanation.

Being the clever Race Manager, Mike offers a solution: he, Hector Olson, Wes Selby and anyone else they can scrounge up will help build sleds at the Race Shop on Sunday if Brian gets his butt down to DL right now to race the final!

“But I missed the qualifying race,” Brian responds.

“So you’ll start last… no big deal,” exclaims Mike.

Brian says thanks, but no thanks. The call ends.

That might have been the end of the story, except Mike gets a text on his phone 15 minutes later.

“Mix some fuel for me and get a transponder for my sled.”

With Brian racing the 90 miles of highway to DL, the Christian Bros. Racing crew mixes some fuel, sharpens a set of carbides and readies a transponder for the soon-to-arrive sled.

When Brian shows up just 30 minutes before the start of the Pro Stock final, there is only enough time to put on his race gear and confirm the pitstop strategy with his crew.

There will be no practice laps to get a feel for the 10-mile course, no chance to check his sled and no warm-up. He’s throwing himself to the lions and hoping for the best.

The race starts two-at-a-time at 15-second intervals. Brian is the last to takeoff, way back from the frontrunners like Zach Herfindahl, Wes Selby, Jordan Torgerson and the others.

Brian Dick en route to winning in Detroit Lakes. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

What Brian lacks in familiarity of the racecourse, he makes up for with experience and racing savvy.

Halfway through the 8-lap final, it’s clear that Brian and Zach are the fastest of the bunch. In one four-lap sequence that underscores their consistency, the two teammates remain separated by less than a half-second!

With a few laps to go, Brian begins to shave off a few second here, a few more there. Then comes the fuel stop, where he’s 10 seconds quicker than Zach.

And just like that, Brian Dick takes the checkered flag and his first win of the season at 1:18:55, just 17.6 seconds ahead of Zach Herfindahl.

The helmets come off. It’s been a great race. Nice job.

Hands are shook and congratulations are spread among the crowd as the sun sets on Detroit Lakes.

Brian Dick, Wes Selby and Hector Olson... working on race sleds.

Fourteen hours later, Brian is back in the Team Arctic Race shop, working alongside Wes, Hector, Mike, Joe, Alicia and Paul as they piece together a pair of sleds.

There's a lot of racing left to do this season, and some of it might actually occur on the racetrack.



Comments (36):

Eric says:
1/6/2014 7:19:00 PM

This is a great story. Makes me think of the old days when a guy rolled up with a tilt back trailer and parked between all the factory rigs and could run with the factory racers.
Tom Rowland says:
1/6/2014 8:33:00 PM

Great story! I was just reading about the pro teams that were recently announced for the upcoming Iron Dog race. Is going to be some tough competitors but it looks like our favorite brand is going to be represented well. Good luck to all!
Dave Guenther says:
1/6/2014 9:32:00 PM

work hard, play hard, ambition and passion will take you where you want to go... good for you guys,, that's why you do so well! keep up the good work and enjoy what you do .. because if you do that, you never have to go to work!...proud of you guys! stay warm!
Ryan W says:
1/7/2014 8:04:00 AM

Brian is an great example for all racers out there! Good luck at the Iron Dog, I'll be pulling for you!
Derek says:
1/7/2014 9:35:00 AM

I don't know about you guys, but to mee the past few years have been more races on lakes and ACTUAL terrain racing. Is this due to lack of snow down your way? You might as well call it USLR (United States Lake Racing). To me this is not XC racing. But hey, whom am I to argue the great races that you guys put on. As a cross country racer myself, I can relate to these boyz.
Rusty says:
1/7/2014 12:19:00 PM

Makes me think of the old days when a guy rolled up with a tilt back trailer and parked between all the factory rigs and could run with the factory racers.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Agreed. Makes me think back to prior to joining the Midnight Blue Express, Brad Hulings used his superior knowledge of advantageous gearing/clutching to beat them.
Ericsno says:
1/7/2014 5:57:00 PM

Ryan simmons and several other pros are only running a couple usxc races because of all the lake races at least when uscc had snow they had a real xc race not just who has the most top end.
Ericsno says:
1/7/2014 5:57:00 PM

Ryan simmons and several other pros are only running a couple usxc races because of all the lake races at least when uscc had snow they had a real xc race not just who has the most top end.
Mike F says:
1/7/2014 7:00:00 PM

This year there is plenty of snow for terrain racing. Last year not so much until the end of Jan. A few lake races early in the year gives a much greater probability that the races will actually occur. Following the willmar race there will be 8 days of terrain racing, well over a thousand miles worth. This is a big operation. Cancelling races costs big bucks. Better to have a few lake races and have a viable, dependable series to run on. Besides it is a heck of a lot more fun to lake race than sit on the couch!
Rusty E. says:
1/8/2014 8:20:00 AM

And if Brian was north of the border the pick-up is now referred to as the half ton :)
John Sandberg says:
1/8/2014 9:29:00 AM

Derek: The mind can play tricks on you. Last year there were three lake races to start the year, followed by six ditch/terrain events. This year there are three lake and five terrain events. The move to lake races for the first few events was made because of the uncertainty for snow for the first month of the season. Mike F. is spot-on.

Ericsno: USCC was the circuit that (smartly) reprised lake races at the beginning of the season, for the very reasons mentioned above. And I've got news for you: None of the Arctic Cats had the fastest top speeds at Detroit Lakes. They were down 3 mph to the Polaris and Yamahas.
Jon says:
1/8/2014 1:43:00 PM

Wow John, heaven forbid someone has an opinion that differs from yours. If ANY other racer came late, missed drivers meeting, missed tech, missed qualifier, he would be told he can't race. Rules are always bent for a certain few. Just my opinion.
Chad Colby says:
1/8/2014 3:12:00 PM

Great story John, doesn't surprise me one bit. Great JOB to whole team and congrats on the WIN Brian, GOOD LUCK at the IRON DOG!
Dulpher says:
1/8/2014 4:11:00 PM

Who gives a rip what Brian missed. Proves hes wicked fast! He took his penalty by starting in back row. Way to go Brian!!
Jon says:
1/8/2014 6:29:00 PM

Who gives a rip is the rule book. Pick up a copy and read it.
Jon says:
1/8/2014 6:33:00 PM

I'm happy for Arctic Cat and Brian for winning, I'm just pointing out that rules are totally overlooked depending who you are. It happens in every form of racing. That's what I am trying to point out is all.
John Sandberg says:
1/8/2014 10:46:00 PM

Jon, there were no rules violated when Brian came late. That's not my opinion, that's a fact.
Jon says:
1/9/2014 6:15:00 AM

John, tech is only open Friday afternoon and Saturday morning before riders meeting and closes before first race goes off the line. That's a fact. Your story stated he had his snowmobile with him so he clearly missed tech times. I was there. I have also raced xc for over 7 years. Fact, he broke rules.
Jon says:
1/9/2014 7:18:00 AM

John, Detroit Lakes race schedule clearly states tech is from 7:30 to 8:30am, can we agree on that?? Great story and website as always John!!!
John Sandberg says:
1/9/2014 9:43:00 AM

Jon: I guess I'll have to challenge you to show me where, exactly, in the rules book it says that you have to perform tech from 7:30-8:30. Because the rule book I'm looking at says only that you have to perform tech (not what time of the day it must occur). Likewise, the schedule lists when Pre-Tech occurs, but not that it's mandatory to occur during that timeframe.

Also, USXC was asked prior to the whole dealio whether it would be okay if Brian raced. They said yes, that there were no rules preventing it.

I think I understand the larger point you're expressing, that racers seem to "get away" with stuff. I get it and sort of agree with you. However, I think that what happens most of the time is that racers find grey areas with unwritten rules. It's the DNA of racers to be creative and find ways to improve their machines that explore the unwritten stuff.

I don't believe that was the case with Brian at DL... he simply changed his mind too many times. LOL! I don't believe for a second that he had any advantage by starting the race last, with zero practice laps. But he did find a grey area of the rules: there was no rule saying he could skip the 2-lap qualifier, yet there was no rule saying he couldn't skip it.

Thanks for the nice words Jon, I appreciate it. And thanks for the lively debate.
Jon says:
1/9/2014 11:35:00 AM

I totally agree!!!! It's great to debate fellow racers and enthusiasts! See ya at usxc races!! P.S. Have you done a where are they now on Brad Pake??
Judy Dick says:
1/9/2014 12:54:00 PM

John,

Thank you John for clarrifying your interpretation of the rules. And thank you for writing a great article. I believe that everyone who knows Brian, including team racers and the competition, have a genuine respect for Brian and the hard work and honesty that he constantly exhibits. I know that he had no intention of racing illegally or being given special rights. I believe that he was already registered for the race, then was convinced to go and race it. I also don't think that he was looking for the gray areas in the rules to take advantage and do something sneaky. That is not Brian!!
I am amazed at the professionalism that he and many of the other racers live by.

It is so awesome to see the support and admiration of all of their fans. That's what makes snowmobile racing such a special sport. It was a great race for Zach, Brian, and all the other guys that put up a fantastic fight.
I feel so badly that we have all had to read the accusations made by Jon.(whom I do not know) My son Brian is too proud to say anything negative, but i'm sure it hurts him in some way. Unfortunately the comments made by Jon, put a sour taste to a sweet win.
Fellow USXC Racer says:
1/9/2014 8:47:00 PM

John- Your story does prove what an excellent racer Brian is, but I agree with Jon. If you want to know what rule was broken in the rule book look at page 30 #3. Driver’s Meeting
? Mandatory for all drivers.
? Time and location will be posted at driver check in and announced on race PA.
? Roll call may be taken to verify driver attendance.

It can't be proved that his sled wasn't tech checked (if it wasn't that's a safety issue to all that is on the course)

I'm not upset with Brian; all racers would do the same if presented the same opportunities. I'm disappointed with USXC; if they gave the same privilege to all racers imagine the clustered mess race day would be.
Jesse says:
1/10/2014 11:10:00 AM

Well said, "Fellow USXC Racer"
This is an issue that will have to be reviewed sooner rather than later.
I don’t think Brain had any intension of bending the rules by showing up late and running the race.
But there is more to this than the fact the Brain did run and win this race.
How about the other competitors in that race… Was it fair to them to let him run?
Some of these racers are doing this on a very tight budget, trying to get “noticed” trying to be somebody in the world of snowmobile racing.
So the $1500 that Brain won might not be life changing for him, but the result of winning a race or placing high in the year end points just could be for some of the other racers.
I think Brian Nelson will take a look at this, and act properly to ensure that if this happens in the future they, USXC, will be ready to react in a fair manner to all involved.
-Keep up the good work John
Joey B says:
1/10/2014 6:07:00 PM

Wanna get "noticed"? Learn to be fast like Brian or Zach.
John Doe says:
1/14/2014 2:09:00 AM

Don't worry about it guys, it'll catch up to him in the irondog just like last year!!!
USXC 3 says:
1/14/2014 12:41:00 PM

John Doe-I struggle to understand exactly what will “catch up with him”. All the hard work? Dedication to the sport? Continuous improvement to the products he’s up there testing so we get better rides?

I too come from 15 years of cross country racing. Never quite made it to the speed level Brian and some others run at, though have been that guy trying to “get noticed” before. Never have I wished they would not let those guys run. Do we want to beat up on a bunch of nobodies to “get noticed” or try to beat the best? I am always glad to see guys like Brian at the races. His attendance is important to the sport. It helps USXC to have the best racers there, hence them allowing him to race, and it helps Arctic Cat to have him testing our race sleds. He has always been respectful and helpful to us fellow racers with information share and set up. So I would hope we can simply respect the hard work and why he almost didn’t make it to the race, and use the fact he whipped everyone form the back row to motivate us. Rather than look for a reason to blame or think he did something wrong. I fully respect the USXC rulebook and the debate, but it was OK’d by USXC officials. Brian therefore, did nothing wrong. His hard work “caught up” and he got a win. Congratulations Brian!
Fellow USXC Racer says:
1/14/2014 10:14:00 PM

Like I said; that is why I'm disappointed with USXC. Gabe Bunke has TWO big endurance races to prep for and still manages to follow ALL the rules in the rule book without any provisionals from USXC.

What is good for the goose is good for the gander my friends. How can they preach rules in the rule book to the racers without looking like hypocrites now?

I'm not debating Brian's skill; I'm debating the integrity of USXC.
Mike F says:
1/15/2014 9:23:00 PM

Oh good! Now we can all stand out and freeze our junk off while Schuster takes attendance at the drivers meeting. Can hardly wait! Tempest in a teapot....
Mike F says:
1/15/2014 9:23:00 PM

Oh good! Now we can all stand out and freeze our junk off while Schuster takes attendance at the drivers meeting. Can hardly wait! Tempest in a teapot....
Fellow USXC Racer says:
1/15/2014 10:37:00 PM

Mike F-
I agree;I do tend to blow things out of proportion when it comes to rules. I like order, not chaos. Maybe we should shake things up and all racers come and go as we please as our schedules allow. I do hate waiting around so I'm pretty excited to be able to show up just in time for my race. I hate the pre race jitters. While we are at it; let's all bring our rule books and burn them together in rebellion!
Mike F says:
1/16/2014 9:22:00 AM

Fellow USXC Racer-
If were going to burn our rulebooks, you will have to let me know which one to bring, I think we are on the third version already this year! Lol! You pay your money and put your life on the line every week. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, I respect that, and I do see your point. I promise to have my guys at the drivers meeting on time!
Derek Elias says:
1/16/2014 9:37:00 AM

Hey boyz, enough is enough. Brian and AC won the race, get over it. Life goes on and hope for the best at the next race.

GO TEAM GREEN!!!
akrider says:
1/16/2014 10:43:00 AM

I've raced XC off and on since '98 and it seems like no matter what the organization is, there is always something that can be criticized when it comes to rules. But, that's the same case at my work, same case with life in general. I don't know the specifics of this event other than what I've read on here, but if the organization said it was okay than it was okay.

Cat is a title sponsor of the series. Does a big sponsor get better treatment? Of course they do, that's the case with anything. Our club would love to have an OEM provide some contingency money towards our race. We'd love to have a nationally recognized racer enter our race. Besides that, where would USXC be without Cat? Their series wouldn't be as big as it is right now without Cat.
MNCAT says:
1/16/2014 5:27:00 PM

I can understand the frustration that "not following the rule book" brings but you also have to keep in mind that the rule book states the race director has the final say on any ruling so technically no rule was broken if Brian Nelson said he is approved. If you are going to live by the sword you better be ready to die by it too.

In addition the point that he missed tech is a little weak in my eyes. Pull your tether, squeeze your brake a couple times and make sure your headlight is working and your helmet meets spec. If that looks good let's go racing.

Brian is great guy and an asset to our sport. To discredit his win in anyway is poor sportsmanship. I can't speak for Brian but I'm positive he would never try to take away from somebody's win like others have done here. He's humble and respectful and people could learn a thing or two from following his lead.



akrider says:
1/17/2014 12:20:00 AM

Good point about tech, what you mentioned is pretty much the extent of it in both of the clubs I race with as well. The most common infraction is guys forgetting to install numbers. They also tap your coat and knees to check for knee guards and a vest.

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