Here’s a super-cool story written by racer/ArcticInsider/Freestyler/Ditchbanger/Tailstander Shane Gerwing, from Rosemount, Minn., about his experience prepping and racing a ZR440 at the ERX Grassroots race this past week:
My name is Shane Gerwing (CRJPilot is my forum name).
I have a little story to tell, mainly inspired by this site and the stories you’ve covered that I can relate to!
I’m a diehard snowmobiler of all disciplines (Mtns, Ditch, Trails, Sno-X & ice racing). I have been a Cat guy ever since my first ride on a 1987 Panther 500f/c as a 7yr old. I have family that worked at Cat for years, and I have owned more than 20 Cats. I currently run a 2010 Crossfire 8 SP, and I love the sled & its power.
However nothing gets my adrenaline going like racing!
Two years ago, when ERX in Elk River opened up, I dug out the old ‘95 Z440 and ran it in the Vintage 1995 Sno-X class and did well, winning the race against bigger liquid-cooled machines (even getting a small quick spot in the ERX Sledhead 24/7 TV commercial).
Last season I didn’t race because of time issues. However, I decided to go full blast this year again, mainly due to reading some of your stories/pics of the former arctic racers. I love hearing about the mid-‘90’s ZR racing history!
Last spring I picked up one of former Pro Arctic Racer Dave Tucker’s 1996 ZR440’s that he had mothballed for $1000.
This fall, my other racing buddies and I scavenged Haydays Grass Drags, high and low for two freakin’ days, slammin Rockstar energy drinks, looking for the perfect 10+10=20-inch handlebar riser set-up, C&A skis, updated shocks & springs, Black Tragic clutch parts, etc… to make this vintage ‘96 ZR440 rock again like the good old days of Pake, Sturgeon, & Hibbert!
There are three of us buddies that all have the same sled that are running this sled out at ERX in the Vintage 1995 Open Class.
After months of wrenching every evening after the kids were in bed, (similar to Brian Nelson’s efforts, LOL), I disassembled the sled down to the chassis and re-built it again. Strengthening, straightening, and replacing whatever I could to help me tackle the bombed out SnoX track I would encounter.
After I got it all together, I decided to pay a little visit to “Pro-Tune Paul” (Paul Walsh, former Dan Sturgeon Mechanic) in Farmington, MN. After telling him my story and getting him all excited about the good old days, he agreed to help me get it set up (clutched, geared, tuned and even a little motor work). I traded my labor for his expertise, helping him in the shop with odd jobs and answering phones, as he worked meticulously on my sled to get it running great!
We even had some “Orange County Chopper crunch-time moments”, waiting for cylinders to come back from US Chrome, before the first race!
ERX Grassroots 2010-11 Race #1 took place Dec 16, and I was finally ready.
I registered for two classes (Vintage 1995 Open and Trail Sport Open Class). On the starting line for the Vintage 1995, was myself (Bib #17) and two buddies on a ‘96 ZR 440 and a 580 ETT, along with some other older Poo’s and Doo’s.
My attention to detail paid off, as I was able to run away to a win in both moto’s!
I was more impressed with the little 440 in the Trail Open Class as I lined up next to a few 2011 machines, including a Polaris Rush 800, Arctic Cat SP500 and several other newer trail sleds.
I was able to bring the old iron home to a 2nd place finish ahead of the 2011 AC SP 500 (in the first heat), and 3rd place overall for the evening in the Trail Open Class.
I had a blast and didn’t break anything (body or machine). I joked that the reason I did well was because of the Arctic Insider Decal on my sled to go along with my NOS energy drink that was in my hand.
I wanted to thank you for the website (which totally blows by the way… in a good way), and let you know how much I enjoy your stories (especially the gut-busting ditchbangin’, tailstandin’ Xtranormal video that you produced, and that I keep referencing).
There are a lot of us that truly “Share our Passion” as the motto states, and your website really helps fuel that!
I would love to make it to the Vintage I-500 and watch. My plan is to race it next year.
My next race at ERX is Thursday, Dec 30. I’ll let you know how it goes.