For as long as I can remember, Pine Lake in Gonvick, Minn., has been the traditional kickoff to Midwestern cross-country racing, with a local community that rallies to find great sponsors and key support in a relatively sparse area of Northwestern Minnesota.
Recent years have brought USXC racing into the fold and, together with the local promoters, put on a truly excellent event billed as the Gerald Dyrdahl Memorial 200 to honor a key figure in snowmobile racing in this area (and a truly great man).
This is going to be a short & sweet report, focusing on the Team Arctic racers who notched class wins.
The first win of the weekend came on Saturday in the No Bull Triple Crown enduro event, which pitted Soo 500 mod sleds (that were further modified for right-hand corners) against each other for 10 laps/100 miles.
Team Arctic/Christian Brothers Racing teamed up Zach Herfindahl and Wes Selby on the #312 sled, creating a formidable duo that absolutely blitzed the field and won handily. Great work by the whole crew, and great track time aboard the Speedwerx-modified C-TEC2 600 engine.
This was one of the batch of available Soo sleds built for purchase by racer for this coming season, and a huge testement to their speed, handling and durability.
Sunday afternoon came, and Paul Brown scored his first win of the season in Jr. Boys 10-13. The Brown family is a staple of USXC racing, and some of the nicest people you’ll find.
Lydia Sobek likes to pretend that she’s a Ski-Doo racer (actually, her family is loyal to yellow), but she races and wins on an Arctic Cat ZR 4000RR in the Jr. Girls 14-17 class with great regularity, including at Pine Lake.
Garet Grzadzielewski took the winning honors in Jr. Boys 14-17.
Jordan Bute is quietly making a name for himself in the Sport 85 class, taking the win this weekend.
There will be great battles in Expert 85 and Expert 85 Improved again this year between Hunter Houle (above) and Ean Voight. At Pine Lake, Houle captured one win…
…while Voight took the other one.
Jesse Watland is making all the El Tigre leaf spring fans happy with his fast, stylish approach that netted him a win in Vintage.
Likewise, Karl Valtinson showed up with a BEAUTIFUL ZR 440 to capture the win in IFS Legends (and also a win in Vintage Legends on an El Tigre).
Dustin Schwandt did double duty in the Sport 600 classes, taking two wins en route to a perfect weekend of racing.
Ryan Weidemann busted out his trusty Sno Pro 500 to take a victory in the Trail Class. He’s switching to his ZR 4000RR for the ditch race this weekend.
Ryan Trout didn’t win either of the Semi Pro classes, but his pair of third place finishes show that the fast and young racer is priming himself to reach the top step sooner than later.
Lance Efteland picked up where he left off in last season’s lake races, taking the win in both Semi Pro 600 and 600 Improved.
Team Arctic placed five of the top-10 in the Pro 600 final, with perennial top runner Chad Lian nailing the solid 10th.
Two nights before the race weekend, Arctic Cat engineer Brian Dick decided he had just enough time to put together a race sled and try his hand at Pine Lake. A late flight start saw him back at nearly 20th in the early laps, but he worked his way up to finish 7th while testing out a few things on his sled.
Brian’s next race will be the Soo 500, where he and Wes Selby are looking to defend their title.
Ross Erdman switched to Team Green for this season and raced to an excellent 6th place overall in Pro 600. It was a great debut for the venerable all-rounder.
Wes Selby had a great weekend at Pine Lake. He partnered with Zach Herfindahl to win Saturday’s 100 mile enduro event; on Sunday he “won” the Pro Open final (but a tough break on Saturday’s event meant his overall finish was 3rd) and he set what many regarded as the fastest lap of the Pro 600 final as he raced to 4th.
He wasn’t happy with anything less than a win in the stock class, but it was still a great weekend.
Like Selby, Zach Herfindahl had what anyone else would consider an amazing weekend. He won the Enduro final with Wes and finished 3rd in the Pro 600 final despite giving up a few MPH to several of the top sleds.
Zach wasn’t happy with that. As the defending Pro champion and someone with a fiery competitiveness, he wants to win every single event he enters.
This same scenario happened at last year’s opener, and he rebounded to win a pile of races and the romp of championship title. I have a feeling that it’s going to be him and Selby battling for the point title. Likewise, I have a feeling he’s going to stand atop the podium at many ditch races this year.
It’s going to be another fun season in cross-country racing. We’re just getting started.
Thanks for reading.