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.
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.
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.