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100 mph Foot race on ice

Tribune photo by Rand Middleton Jacob Muller, right, on a Yamaha fights to control his bouncing snowmobile through the chicane approaching the start/finish with Alex Hetteen on a Polaris giving chase. Muller placed fifth out of 14 in Semi-Pro Improved and Hetten was sixth out of 18 in Semi-Pro 600.

WILLMAR — In arctic conditions on a sunny Saturday, hopped-up snowmobiles zipped like rocket sleds around Foot Lake west.

The top classes reached over 100 miles per hour on the generous straightaways at the third stop on the U.S.X-Country Snowmobile Racing circuit.

The 9.8-mile laps zigged, jigged and zagged along the shore and up the middle on the frozen lake surface. The start/finish was just off the northwest point of the fairgrounds where the pro-class racers parked their long trailers in the same area as the carnival workers in August.

After two days of thaw that left the lake surface gooey, the mercury plummeted from the high 30s to 10 degrees by daybreak Saturday. The ice immediately firmed up save for a few slushy spots reported on the graded, 20-foot wide racing path.

A flag-whipping wind from the northwest made it hard day to stand around; spectators found comfort watching from vehicles on the rim road.

The Willmar Area Lakes 100 drew about 140 sleds and 200 entries. Racers could choose from 18 classes. It took about five hours and six races to complete the format. Timing by transponders on the sleds and wires buried at the start/finish allowed multiple classes to go off at once.

Brian Dick won the premier class: Driving for the Arctic Cat factory team his No. 23 sled finished 10 laps in 1:34.40. Top driver were conquering the nearly 10-mile laps in 9 minutes 30 seconds, or in Dick’s case 9:24. Dick, an engineer at Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls, also won the Detroit Lakes 200 last week.

Zach Herfindahl, Dick’s teammate, finished second in Pro 600 and Wesley Selby of Granby, Colo., third. Selby also rides a Cat but is self-sponsored.

“The course was good, though it was getting a little rough by the end of the day,” Selby said. “It was fun; you’re spending a lot of money out here so you got to have fun.”

Selby is in Minnesota this winter for the entire 8 race USXC circuit, where the next stop is the Oslo 100 in two weeks followed by the 3-day I-500 at Thief River Falls on Feb. 7-9.

Brian Nelson of Spicer, the USCX owner/director, said he was pleased with the turnout considering the edgy weather up north.

“I think we could be back here next year,” he said.

West Foot Lake, sometimes called Upper Foot, was ideal for racing since there is no aeration or fishing, Nelson noted. Also, the fairgrounds offered a roomy area for parking and staging.

Nelson and his staff employed Google Mapping to precisely measure the course. While the pros raced 10 laps, most races were 3 to 5 laps or 2 in the case of juniors.

USXC Racing

Willmar Area Lakes 100

Saturday on west Foot Lake

(Key: class (finishers), top 3 name, sled)

PRO 600 (13) – 1. Brian Dick, Arctic Cat 2. Zach Herfindahl, Cat 3. Wesley Selby, Cat

PRO OPEN (10) – 1. Zach Herfindahl, Cat 2. Ryan Simons Cat 3. Brian Dick, Cat

SEMI PRO 600 (18) – 1. Cole Nymann, Cat 2. Travis Faust, Polaris 3. Specner Kadilac, Polaris

SEMI PRO IMPROVED (14)– 1. Travis Faust, Polaris 2. Cale Anseeuw, Skidoo 3. Alex Hetteen, Polaris

EXPERT 85 (7)– 1. Lance Effeland, Cat 2. Chad Dyrdahl, Cat 3. Bryce Buchanan, Cat

SPORT 85 (15) – 1. Kevin Tinjum, Cat, 2. Nels Eide, Cat 3. Ross Engelstad, Cat

SPORT 600 (13) – 1. Garrett Johnson Cat 2. Mayson Croaker, Cat 3. Josiah Voth, Cat

TRAIL (12) – 1.  Gunner Arlaud, Polaris 2. Kevin Tinjum, Cat 3. Matt Prusak, Polaris

VINTAGE (6) – 1. Gary Tintes, Cat 2. James Mattison, Cat 3. Jesse Watland, Cat

CLASSIC (6) – 1. Brad Naplin, Cat 2. Matt Schaumbu, Cat 3. Andy Storbeck, Polaris

WOMEN’S (7)– 1. Jolene Bute, Cat 2. Jill Tangen, Polaris 3. Jennifer Fuller, Polaris

JUNIOR 10-13 (8) – 1. John Langaas, Cat 2. Daron Pringle, Cat 3. Dave Brown, Cat

JUNIOR 14-17 (12) – 1. Cole Lian, Cat 2. Hunter Houle, Cat 3. Nels Eide, Cat

GIRLS 10-15 (3) – 1. Marissa Kallock, Cat 2. Sara Larson, Cat 3. Celcily Nordstrom, Cat

GIRLS 16-17 (2) – 1. Callie Slomjinski, Cat/Polaris 2. Kelsey Pladson, Cat

EXPERT 85 IMPROVED (5) – 1. Lance Effeland, Cat 2. Chad Dyrdahl, Cat (3) Ben Langas, Cat

MASTERS 40 (3) – 1. Eric Christensen, Polaris 2. Kevin Tinjum, Cat 3. Tom Kallock, Cat

MASTERS 50-PLUS (4) – 1. Jim Sobeck, Skidoo 2. Dan Fischer, Cat 3. John Jones, Skidoo

VINTAGE 50-PLUS (2) – 1. Gary Tintes, Cat 2. Gerry Mattison, Cat

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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