Penske-ized Snowmobile Racer at Caribou Snow Drags

Episode 196

January 22, 2017

What Does It Take To Prepare For Snowmobile Drag Races?

Preparation of the Holmquist Arctic Cat began after the CMSRA "Grass Drags" in Presque Isle. Over 100 hours of preparation went in the drag racer. Photo courtesy John Holmquist

Preparation of the Holmquist Arctic Cat began after the CMSRA “Grass Drags” November 5, 2016 in Presque Isle. Over 100 hours of preparation went in the drag racer. Photo courtesy John Holmquist

I was curious what it requires to change a modern grass drag race sled for snow-covered drag races. I spent an afternoon with John Holmquist picking his brain about preparation, set up, testing, and what makes a racer and his machine tick.

Ethan Rossignol aboard the Holmquist Arctic Cat at CMSRA Grass Drag in November 2016. Rossignol had two second place finishes. HTF Motorsports photo

Ethan Rossignol aboard the Holmquist ThunderCat 600 Arctic Cat at CMSRA Grass Drag in November 2016. Rossignol had two second place finishes. HTF Motorsports photo

When I last saw the Arctic Cat perform, the team was participating in the Central Maine Snowmobile Race Association (CMSRA) event at the Northern Maine Fairgrounds November 2016. The rain made the track soupy despite the concentrated efforts of Rick Guerrette and crew. Mud seemed to permeate every surface of the sleds in the races.

Immediately after the Presque Isle “Mud Drag Race”, Holmquist completely disassembled his sled in his garage in Caribou. Mud was washed away revealing a small crack in the chassis which Holmquist had repaired. As far as he knew at the time there were Radar Runs scheduled in Portage prior to the Caribou Race.

The radar runs were cancelled thus necessitating a rapid turn around from an ice set up to a snow set up. This was accomplished in plenty of time with concentrated dedicated sessions in the heated shop. I was impressed also with the organization of the space in Holmquist’s shop. Everything had a place and was neat and clean.

Engine compartment after cleaning and polishing prior to re-assembly.Photo courtesy  John Holmquist

Engine compartment after cleaning and polishing prior to re-assembly.Photo courtesy John Holmquist

I am not sure the degree to which snowmobile drag racers clean and re-assemble their sleds between events, however, I do know that Holmquist’s sled was immaculate. He mentioned that he likes to keep it clean for a variety of reasons including spotting fluid leaks, type, and their location.

When I looked at Holmquist’s sled, I was reminded of what I read in the Winter 2016-17 Racer magazine. Featured in that issue was Roger Penske who I have always held in high esteem since seeing his Formula One car race at Watkins Glen in October 1974.

Author Mark Glendenning in his article Built to Win noted that “The Penske Way” was first described in Sports Illustrated 1964 in a profile written by Gilbert Rogin, “…the attention to detail, the meticulous preparation, the emphasis on image and presentation.”

Holmquist proceeded to explain the ins and outs of snowmobile drag racing. After the session with Holmquist I am sure I have insight when watching future races.

Holmquist heaped much praise on his driver, Ethan Rossignol, stating that he can “cut a light” with the best of them. He credits Kurt Dumond for set up as well as many others who have helped him along the way. I suspect I would miss some if I attempted to list all who he mentioned.

So How Did #169 Do?

Ethan Rossignol aboard Holmquist's #169. He won the Stock 600, Improved Stock 600 and Pro-Mod 600. Robim Holmquist photo

Ethan Rossignol aboard Holmquist’s #169. He won the Stock 600, Improved Stock 600 and Pro-Mod 600. Robin Holmquist photo

“I am real happy on how all the sleds performed today”, said Holmquist. “We all did well today. Traction was the key.”

My assessment is that the hard work in preparing his sled seemed to pay off today.

Rossignol is the Iron-Man

Ethan Rossignol was the throttle man on three machines and 11 classes at the Caribou Drag Races. In addition to the #169 owned by John Holmquist, he raced his own #812 700 Fire Cat and the Pro Mod 1100 Arctic Cat owned by Sam Robertson.

Rossignol aboard his own Thunder Cat 700. He won Stock 700, Improved Stock 700, Stock 800, and Stock 1000. Robin Holmquist photo

Rossignol aboard his own Arctic Cat Fire Cat 700. He won Stock 700, Stock 800, and Stock 1000. Robin Holmquist photo

Rossignol aboard the Sam Robertson Pro Mod 1100 Turbo Thunder Cat. The Robertson machine won 2 races and placed second in another. Robin Holmquist photo

Rossignol aboard the Sam Robertson Pro Mod 1100 Turbo Thunder Cat. The Robertson machine won 2 races and placed second in another. Robin Holmquist photo

Zack's Race winner Logan Greene of Stockholm on his 500 Arctic Cat. All proceeds from the class went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in memory of Zack Gagnon of Caribou. Greene's team consisted of Mom, Tasha, Nick and Kyle Morrill. Photo courtesy Tasha Greene

Zack’s Race winner Logan Greene of Stockholm on his 500 Arctic Cat. All proceeds from the class went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation in memory of Zack Gagnon of Caribou. Greene’s team consisted of Mom, Tasha, Nick and Kyle Morrill. Photo courtesy Tasha Greene

In his first drag race, six year old Tristen Merchant celebrates with his parents  Bill Merchant and Kylee Morrell of Caribou. HTF Motorsports photo

In his first drag race, six-year-old Tristen Merchant celebrates with his parents Bill Merchant and Kylee Morrell of Caribou. HTF Motorsports photo

Winner of the Modified 120 Kids race, Brayden Thibodeau son of Erica McPherson and Tim Thibodeau of Limestone. Brayden also races karts with Northern Maine Karting Association. HTF Motorsports photo

Winner of the Modified 120 Kids race, Brayden Thibodeau son of Erica McPherson and Tim Thibodeau of Limestone. Brayden also races karts with Northern Maine Karting Association. HTF Motorsports photo

Kart Racing Champion Gage Theriault son of Erin Addington of Limestone won the stock 120 Kids Class. Theriault is no stranger to Victory Lane. HTF Motorsports photo

Kart Racing Champion, Gage Theriault son of Erin Addington of Limestone won the stock 120 Kids Class. Theriault is no stranger to Victory Lane. HTF Motorsports photo

Willey and Pelletier Experience Success at Caribou Drag Races

You may remember Mallory (Thompson) Willey from last year’s races. Since last year she got married to Philip Willey of Caribou. Her marriage has not slowed her on the racetrack. Driving her family owned 1980 Polaris Centurion, Willey finished second in Stock 500 and second in 500 Improved Stock.

Fort Kent’s Joe Pelletier said, ” I finished 1st in 500 stock (2007 Ski Doo MXZX 440), 1st in 1000 improved (2004 Ski Doo MXZX 800), 2nd in Stock 600 (2017 Ski Doo MXZX 600RS). I also won $200 for the fastest reaction time of the day (.004 sec).

When Pelletier was asked about his thoughts about the Caribou race and the upcoming SnoX at Houlton February 5th he replied, “Overall the day went well, need to make a few changes to be better for the next drag race, but it’s always a good day to have some wins.”

“I am ready for the SnoX in Houlton, and I will actually be going to the East Coast Snocross next weekend at Bass Park in Bangor, so I’m going to prepare for that first.”

Ryan Messer Recognized at Speedway 660 Awards Banquet

You may recall that 16-year-old Ryan Messer of Harvey, New Brunswick won the Late Model Sportsman Points Championship at Speedway 660 located in Geary Woods, New Brunswick. The Speedway held their awards banquet Saturday evening in Fredericton recognizing all their points champions.

Ryan Motorsports Team Penny, Ryan, and Robb Messer, Harvey, New Brunswick at the Speedway 660 Awards Banquet where Ryan received his trophy for first place in Late Model Sportsman class. Ryan Motorsports photo

Penny, Ryan, and Robb Messer, Harvey, New Brunswick at the Speedway 660 Awards Banquet at the Fredericton Inn, where Ryan received his trophy for first place in Late Model Sportsman class. Ryan Motorsports photo

Ryan got more than he expected at the awards banquet. I will let his Dad, Robb explain:

“We had a really incredible night to cap off an exceptional season! Totally did not expect Ryan to win the ‘Home Town Hero’ award.  This is given to one driver/team in the entire Atlantic Provinces to someone they feel exemplifies dedication and does an exceptional job representing our sport.”

“It was part of the Tim’s Corner Motorsports year-end awards and is sponsored by EiT Race Radios out of Halifax It is really an honor”.

Ryan Messer will be moving up to the Super Late Model class at Speedway 660 with a goal of qualifying for the track’s 250 lap race later this summer. PASS will also be making an appearance at the New Brunswick track saturday June 3, 2017. The top three Canadian and US drivers will get starting spots in the Oxford 250 in August.

MazdaSpeed Prototype on the  pre-race grid. The car was the first out of the race  due to a yet to be disclosed engine related problem. HTF Motorsports photo

MazdaSpeed 2016 Prototype on the pre-race grid at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. I will be covering the 2017 version where Mazda, Nissan, Cadillac, and Riley Multimatic will be debuting their Daytona Prototype International (DPi)  racers. Not sure if I will be blogging next Sunday evening. I hope to at least share some photos from the race. Then, on to Indy for a couple of interviews and then HOME. The Rolex  raceway be viewed on Fox, Fox Sport 1 and Fox Sport 2. Check with Fox for the times. HTF Motorsports photo

Let’s Go Racing From Daytona!

Tom Hale

Soli Deo Gloria

 

Tom Hale

About Tom Hale

Tom wrote 14 years as freelancer for the Bangor Daily Sports covering motorsports in Maine. Now blogging and concentrating on human interest stories about people and places in racing.