January 22, 2017
What Does It Take To Prepare For Snowmobile Drag Races?
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.
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.
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?
“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.
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 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.
Let’s Go Racing From Daytona!
Soli Deo Gloria