Polaris Racing 2010 Preview: Ice Ovals, Cross Country and Hill Climb
“We direct a lot of resources toward winning in Snocross, and fortunately we’ve been successful there. But we are also committed to winning in other disciplines, and we really like the racers we have on Polaris sleds in ovals, cross-country and hillclimbs,” said Polaris Racing Manager Tom Rager, Sr.
One of the top teams campaigning for Polaris on the ice ovals will be Team Wahl from Wahl Bros Racing.
Dustin Wahl had a strong season on his Polaris-powered Wahl Bros race sleds last winter, winning the Pro Champ title at the Beausejour opener and the Formula 1 Open and 600 Open classes at Eagle River. He also won six times in Champ 440. Team Wahl racer Brandon Johnson also ran in the top Sprint classes and had one of his best weekends of the season at Wausau, where he ran second in 600 Open and Champ 440. On the WSA Pro Ice circuit, he finished second in Pro Formula points and was fourth in total Pro points. The next generation of Team Wahl racers includes Jordan Wahl, who earned four wins in Jr. 1 380 Sprint and finished second in points in the Jr. 1 Sprint class on the WSA Pro Ice circuit.
Nick Van Strydonk, a rising oval star from Tomahawk, Wisconsin, won the WSA Pro Ice Pro Formula title last season and was third in Pro 440 Champ points. He finished second in overall Pro-class points last season. On the USSA circuit, he won the Pro Champ and Open 600 points titles. Nick’s brother Beau Van Strydonk won the USSA Pro Sprint 600 title and tied for the Semi-Pro Sprint 600 championship. At Eagle River he won the Pro Sprint 600 and Junior III 600 Sprint championships.
USSA Semi-Pro Champion Joe Ffjerstad was named the circuit’s Most Improved Oval Driver last winter. His season included a Semi Pro Champ 440 title at Eagle River. John Henke was named USSA Oval Rookie of the Year and his family won the Family of the Year award, and Ryan Kniskern was the circuit’s Oval High Point Driver.
Leading the charge for Polaris in Cross Country racing will be experienced Pro champions Gabe Bunke and Corey Davidson, both of whom will compete on the United States Cross Country (USCC) circuit. Davidson finished last season fifth in Pro 600 points and fourth in Pro Open points, and he won the Vet 30+ title. Bunke finished second in Pro 600 points and fifth in Pro Open points. He also received the USCC Iron Man award at the 2009 awards banquet in recognition of his having raced in every USCC event – 43 consecutive races. Bunke’s amazing run has included three USCC class point titles and consistent top-five finishes, and he has done it while sometimes racing hurt.Both Davidson and Bunke are expected to drive the Polaris 600 RUSH™ on the USCC circuit this coming winter.
Also expected to race on the 600 RUSH™ are several Polaris racers who will compete in the annual IronDog race across Alaska. The team of Polaris racers Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad won the grueling race last year, and they plan to compete again, this time on the breakthrough new 600 RUSH™. Also scheduled to race the Iron Dog on the 600 RUSH™ are the teams of Shane Barber and Aaron Loyer, and Mike Morgan and Joe Folland. Registration for the Iron Dog is underway, and it’s expected that several more teams of Polaris racers will take part in this winter’s event. Four Polaris race teams finished in the top 10 in the Iron Dog Pro class last February, the most of any manufacturer. The victory gave Polaris its 11th win in 25 Iron Dog races, also the most of any brand. Also finishing in the top 10 aboard Polaris sleds were the teams of: Mike Morgan and Tyler Huntington; Shane Barber and Stevan White; and Chris Olds and Matthew Spernak.
Rager said he expects the Polaris hillclimb effort out West to be very successful again this winter. Among the top competitors he’ll have back on Polaris sleds will be the highly successful Keith Curtis.Two seasons ago, Curtis won three Stock titles and Stock King of the Hill honors at the Jackson Hole World Championship Snowmobile Hillcimb – and then he became the King of Kings by outperforming his fellow Kings of the Hill. At last winter’s Jackson Hole event, Curtis won the Stock 800 and Stock 1000 titles and took second in Improved Stock 800.
The Polaris hillclimbers will dedicate the season to their mentor, Rick Ward, the legendary competitor and long-time manager of the Polaris hillclimb program. Rick died following a motorcycle accident in September, and his absence will be felt by hillclimbers on every brand of sled this winter and going forward. Rick was an 18-time World Champion who earned numerous King of the Hill honors throughout his career– a career spent exclusively on Polaris snowmobiles. He was also an inspiration and mentor. He taught young riders the right way to prep their sleds and tutored them on riding technique. He also led by example with his generosity in lending his expertise and his gracious manner, win or lose.
With annual 2008 sales of $1.9 billion, Polaris designs, engineers, manufactures and markets off-road vehicles (ORVs), including all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and the Polaris ranGer™, snowmobiles and Victory Motorcycles for recreational and utility use. Polaris is a recognized leader in the snowmobile industry, and one of the largest manufacturers of ORVs in the world. Victory Motorcycles, established in 1998 and representing the first all-new American-made motorcycle from a major company in nearly 60 years, are rapidly making impressive in-roads into the cruiser and touring motorcycle marketplace. Polaris also enhances the riding experience with a complete line of Pure Polaris apparel, accessories and parts, available at Polaris dealerships. Polaris Industries Inc. trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “PII,” and the Company is included in the S&P Small-Cap 600 stock price index. Information about the complete line of Polaris products, apparel and vehicle accessories, is available from authorized Polaris dealers or anytime from the Polaris homepage at www.polarisindustries.com.