Pine Lake has marked the traditional start of the cross-country snowmobile racing season for more than two decades. Barring a few off-years, racers have gathered on the small lake near Gonvick, Minnesota, since 1987 and that is one of the reasons the United States X-Country Snowmobile Racing chose the location to kick off its inaugural season December 15-16.
The lemans-style course on Pine Lake was featured a mile-long straightaway where riders reached speeds of more than 100 mph. Most classes made two laps but the pro classes raced over 100 miles in the two, 10-lap finals. Departing from the timed races of recent years, USXC ran heads-up racing for all classes both days on Pine Lake. Heat racing determined which riders would race in the finals.
Both Saturday and Sunday were overcast. Saturday’s event saw rain for a few hours mid-day while Sunday was dry. In Saturday’s Pro Open race, Corey Davidson took an early lead on a Soo enduro mod sled he brought for Pro Open competition. Arctic Cat rider Ryan Simons slotted into second place and hung with the more powerful sled of Davidson’s, but the Polaris driver’s lead grew every lap until his engine blew up on lap 7, handing the lead to Simons who took the win followed by his teammate and last year’s Pine Lake Pro 600 winner, Brian Dick. Arctic Cat rider Zach Herfindahl finished third.
Sunday dawned colder and riders had to fight snow dust, something they didn’t have on Saturday’s wet track. Simons grabbed the holeshot in the 100-mile Pro Stock race and held the lead the entire way and was again followed by Herfindahl and Dick. “I guess I didn’t have a strategy,” said Simons, the reigning Pro 600 points champion. “I just tried to pick up where I left off last year and everything turned out well.”
Veteran Arctic Cat racer Jon Arneson won the Semi-Pro 600 final and Yamaha rider Ben Lindbom won the Semi-Pro Improved race.
Other class winners from Pine Lake include:
Expert 85: Bryce Buchanan (Cat); Expert 85 Improved: Bryce Buchanan (Cat); Sport 600 Improved: Erik Nymann (Cat); Masters 50+: Jim Sobeck (Doo); Sport 85: Kevin Tinjum (Cat); Sport 600 Stock: Garrett Johnson (Cat); Sport 600 Improved: Erik Nymann (Cat); Trail: Glen Arlaud (Pol); Vintage: Jesse Watland (Cat); Vintage Legends 50+: Gary Tintes (Cat); Classic IFS 18-50: Matt Schaumberg (Cat); Women’s: Jolene Bute (Cat); Junior 10-13: Ean Voigt (Cat); Junior 14-17: Cole Lian (Cat); Junior Girls 10-15: Marissa Kallock (Cat); Junior Girls 16-17: Callie Slominski (Cat).
The next USXC event is the J&K Marine Beach Bar 200 in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, January 5, 2013.
Click the link to read more behind-the-scenes notes about how the USXC kicked off the season and circuit.