Flashback almost 23 years ago in the snowmobile bumps racing scene: Toni Haikonen has arrived about four years earlier and had threatened to alter the sport with a high-flying style, but then somebody emerged off of the Canadian prairie and truly brought change. Below are excerpts of an early Blair Morgan race — not his U.S. debut in West Yellowstone or even the season-opener the following year at Duluth, Minnesota. Instead, it’s a freelancer’s account of Morgan’s dual with Haikonen and a cast of other racers who became legendary in the 1990s — this one at Biwabik, Minnesota.
What follows is the “lead” to the story, before the blow-by-blow coverage of each race as well as the “undercard.” If you’re curious to read the full story, we have exactly 8 copies of this issue (as of this writing) for sale on the Snow Goer Store site, but we’re guessing they’ll go quickly. The issue also features an award-winner profile of snowmobile stuntman Scott Eilertson, race coverage from an RMXCRC snocross in Island Park (where Jumpin’ Jason Jones battled Todd Tupper, Brian Call, Rick Ward and others), holeshots, a tech story and much more.
A Finnish Finish At ISOC Season Opener
Dec. 6-7, 1997, Biwabik, Minnesota — Who better than the high flyers Toni Haikonen and Blair Morgan to christen the inaugural half-mile Giants Sno Cross course at the International Series of Champions (ISOC) season opener at Giant’s Ridge Golf and Ski Resort?
Toni “The Flying Finn” Haikonen won the 10-lap Pro 600 and the 10-lap Pro Open finals on Sunday, and also piloted his Ski-Doo to a second-place finish in the 25-lap Pro-440 final.
Teammate and fellow Finlander Janne Tapio was right behind Haikonen, taking second place in both Pro 600 and Pro Open, giving Ski-Doo a Finnish finish in two out of the three Pro classes.
It wasn’t all yellow at the finish line, however, as Team Green’s Blair Morgan claimed another Pro victory on his Arctic Cat ZR 440 Sno Pro. The Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, native was the 1997 Canadian National Motocross Champion in the 125 and 250cc classes and is only in his first full season of snowmobile racing in the United States. He has taken his motocross experience to the snocross tracks, and at Giant’s Ridge won the marquis event — the Pro 440 final.
The previous weekend, Morgan won the other two Pro classes — Pro Open and Pro 600 — at the MRP Snocross World Series opener in Duluth, Minnesota.
Spectators have to be blind not to notice Morgan’s bright green and orange chest protector and the orange skid plate under his Cat. Neither of these, though, draw as much attention as his unique riding style. Very rarely does he ever sit down, which demonstrates how his snowmobile racing is influenced by his motocross skills.
Morgan said he does not know how other racers sit down when they race snocross, because he said it jars his back.
“I kind of know what it takes to win coming from a motocross background,” he said at his trailer. “I’m always racing.”
Haikonen also looks like he knows how to win, riding the moguls and jumps like his reputation says he should. He looked very strong, having really distanced himself from the others in his two feature wins.
PRO 440: 1. Blair Morgan (Cat); 2. Toni Haikonen (Doo); 3. Brad Pake (Cat); 4. Kirk Hibbert (Cat); 5. Jenne Tapio (Doo); 6. Greg Hyde (Pol); 7. Jeremy Crapo (Pol); 8. David Brown (Pol); 9. Todd Wolff (Doo); 10. Corey Davidson (Pol)
PRO 600: 1. Toni Haikonen (Doo); 2. Janne Tapio (Doo); 3. Blair Morgan (Cat)
PRO OPEN: 1. Toni Haikonen (Doo); 2. Janne Tapio (Doo); 3. Brad Pake (Cat)
SEMI-PRO 440F: 1. Jim Beck Jr. (Doo); 2. Chad Kyllo (Cat); 3. Justin Winter (Pol).
SEMI-PRO 440L: 1. Trevor John (Cat); 2. Douglas Riipinen (Pol); 3. Jim Beck Jr. (Doo)
SEMI-PRO 600: 1. Trevor John (Cat); 2. Jim Beck Jr. (Doo); 3. Mike Dirkman (Pol)
SEMI-PRO OPEN: 1. Trevor John (Cat); 2. Douglas Riipinen (Pol); 3. John Buss (Pol)