The Christian Bros. Racing Team led by co-drivers Zach Herfindahl and Wes Selby earned a thrilling victory at the 50th annual Soo International 500 race on February 3, and held off some of enduro racing’s most storied names in the process.
Racing on the famed, one-mile iced oval in the border town of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, was fast and furious all day, as competitors blazed around the track 500 times in snowmobiling’s most challenging one-day event. Some of the event’s early leaders faced mid-race challenges that slid them deep into the pack of 36 racers, but as the race expanded to its eighth hour the sport’s most storied champions moved toward the front.
Running in the front group in the final 100 laps were seven-time winner Gabe Bunke (part of a winning team in ’02, ’05, ’12, ’13, ’14, ’16 and ’17) and his longtime teammate Aaron Christensen on the Bunke Racing 74 Polaris; the only eight-time winner of the event, Corey Davidson (’98, ’99, ’00, ’03, ’05 with Bunke, ’06, ’08 and ’11) and co-driver Eric Gausen on the XLT Engineering Polaris; and two-time winner Troy DeWald (’09, ’10) and co-driver Ryan Spencer on the Cadarette Collision Arctic Cat. You’ll notice that virtually every year since the late 1990s is covered in that list – one exception is 2015. That’s when Wes Selby was the co-driver with Brian Dick on the Christian Bros Arctic Cat team that won a weather-shortened I-500.
Christian Bros. and Selby were back for 2018, though Selby had a new co-driver in Zach Herfindahl, a 21-year-old cross-country racing phenom from Eagle River, Wisconsin, who was competing in his first Soo I-500. With Herfindahl taking his turn behind the handlebar of the No. 17x Arctic Cat, they took the lead on lap 434 then held off the star-studded field immediately behind them for the rest of the event. The stiffest challenge came on lap 494, when the Bunke sled with Christensen aboard took the lead momentarily in turns three and four, but Herfindahl put his Cat back out front on the exit of the turn and sped away, earned a victory by 3.09 seconds.
The Bunke Polaris finished second by that incredibly small margin, especially considering the race took 9 hours and 23 minutes of ongoing competition to complete. The XLT Engineering Polaris was third, 13 seconds behind the winner, with DeWald’s Cadarette Collision entry fourth, 19 seconds behind. Those were the only four sleds to finish on the lead lap.
The victory was Arctic Cat’s third in the 50 year history of the event.
- Christian Bros. Arctic Cat (Wes Selby, Zach Herfindahl).
- Bunke Racing 74 Polaris (Gabe Bunke, Aaron Christensen)
- XLT Engineering Polaris (Corey Davidson/Eric Gausen)
- Cadarette Collision Racing Arctic Cat (Troy DeWald, Ryan Spencer, Bill Wilkes)
- Yovich Racing Polaris (James Hicks, Eric Zellar, Isaac Wolfgang)
- Bunke Racing 537 Polaris (Ryan Faust, Travis Faust, Alex Hetteen)
- Kovar Racing Polaris (Dani Maki, Grand Lynch)
- Team Blu Racing Polaris (Jake Beres, Matt Schulz, Duane Bauer)
- Hoos Racing Polaris (John Hoos, Jordan Carlson, LJ Quick, Dustin Fierek)
- DL Racing Polaris (Jake Gerow, Cale Anseeuw)