In the absence of the USXC I-500 this year due to snow, last weekend’s two-day Seven Clans Casino/Thief River Falls 300 gave us the challenge and drama of long distance cross-country racing.
There were 140-something racers at the TRF 300, each of whom was treated with decent-to-good snow conditions. Most of the classes ran two 65-mile loops each day, with a fuel stop between each of the loops.
If the TRF 300 was any indication of what the I-500 might have been, USXC did a great job and Team Arctic would have been very, very impressive.
As it was, the men, women, boys and girls in green took home 17 class wins (out of 21) and 40 podium positions.
One of those wins came at the hands of Savannah Landrus, who showed no fear in her pursuit of victory in the Girls 14-17 class.
James Mattison raced his Zed Argh to a win in the Classic IFS Legends Over 50 One-Handed class. I have no idea what it’s like to race for 65 miles using just my right hand, but it must have been thrilling.
Mike Mattison is another of the Mattison Racing crew that consists of 83 drivers, 47 mechanics and 395 rabid fans. Mike hauled home his own first place hardware in the Vintage class.
The grizzled statesman of the Mattison team, Gerry Mattison showed his speed and savvy to win the Vintage Legends class ahead of brother Pete.
I didn’t get a photo of Karl Mattison, which is unfortunate because he won the Classic IFS 1980-1997 class.
Just know this: Mattison Racing Wins!
David Brown was on the gas and blasting ditch approaches on his way to winning the Jr. 10-13 class.
Jeremy Grove took two class wins in TRF: Expert 85 and Expert 85 Improved.
Ean Voigt won Trail, keeping his winning streak alive (I’m pretty sure he’s won at least one class at every event this season).
Proving he’s as fast in the ditch as he is on the lake, Jon Arneson motored to victory in the Masters 40 and Over class.
Brandon Wolter is at his best in the rough stuff, and he proved it with a win in Sport 85 and a second in Expert 85.
Timmy Kallock is another racer who shines brightest in the ditch. He won Semi Pro Improved, took fourth in Pro Stock and would have won Semi Pro Stock had he entered it. Oops!
I’m not sure if we’ll ever see another woman racer who can win rugged cross-country races with the regularity and career span of Jolene Bute. She was on her A-game in TRF, taking the win in convincing fashion.
The Pro Stock class served up a dramatic duel between Team Arctic’s Zach Herfindahl and Wes Selby.
After Saturday’s 130 miles, Selby had a 1-minute, 0.8-second lead over Herfindahl. USXC allows racers to choose whether or not to take a 1-hour maintenance session. If they do take it, one minute is added to their time.
After seeing a few Cat racers suffer from broken drive clutch springs during the day, Selby opted to take the session and replace his as precaution, while Herfindahl gambled by opting out of the session. That put Herfindahl less than one second behind Selby for the start of the second day’s two 65-mile loops.
During the first loop, Selby stretched his lead to around seven seconds. A slight bobble in the fuel stop closed the gap slightly, but he left the fuel area with around 5 seconds over his teammate.
Five or so miles into the second loop, Selby’s clutch spring broke, dropping his acceleration and speed enough that Herfindahl caught him.
Here at the 40-mile mark of the second loop, Herfindahl hit the river and looked back to see where Selby was.
What he saw was a man on mission, just a handful of seconds behind and barreling down on him.
It appeared that an already epic battle would be decided with a 25-mile drag race to the finish, but a siezed engine ended Herfindahl’s day just 15 miles to the finish.
And with that, Selby cruised into the finish with a nearly 10-minute lead over second place.
Taking second was Yamaha’s Matt Piche. It was the second USXC cross-country in a row that Yamaha took second in the premier class, and it shows the blue team has made the jump to contending for wins.
Cody Kallock made up three minutes on Piche during day two, but came up five seconds short of catching him before the finish. Kallock rode an awesome race!
In all, Team Arctic scored six of the top-10 places in Pro Stock. Pretty darn impressive.
Wes Selby (left) was greeted at the finish by Dawn Haugen of the Team Arctic Race Department, while Race Manager Mike Kloety (right) streamed the farm report from KTRF radio on his smartphone.
The TRF 300 win marks Selby’s third major victory in a month, and suggests he’s on something of a roll as we head to the final race of the USXC season beginning tomorrow in Warroad, Minn.
Congrats to all the racers who competed in TRF. And an apology to Matt Feil, who was the other Team Arctic class winner (Sport 600 Open) whose photo I failed to capture. Matt is on the ArcticInsider factory team, so that makes me double-lame.
Thanks for reading.