Zach Herfindahl is making himself into a true cross-country snowmobile racing legend. The Arctic Cat racer from Eagle River, Wisconsin, won his fourth cross-country I-500 in mid-February, outpacing the field in the ditches, fields, laketops and firelanes of northern Minnesota over two 250-mile days.
Below is the story submitted by Emily Wicklund on behalf of the host Cor Powersports race circuit.
Goodridge Minnesota welcomed racers to Northern Minnesota with minus 30-degree temperatures to duke it out for 500 miles. The historical I-500 race has been ran for over 50 years and is known to be one of the most grueling events on snow.
Two years ago, the Goodridge and Grygla communities took on this event and have done a phenomenal job. The race was a two-day event with racers competing while covering 250 miles each day. There were two marked, 125-mile courses, one for each day, that the majority of classes ran two laps on each day. The Junior 10-13, Vintage, and Classic classes only ran one lap, with the Vintage and Classic sleds only racing one day.
Friday night started off with an autograph session for all racers at the Goodridge Lions hall followed by a drivers meeting. The Pro racers drew their starting position chips for Saturday morning and Polaris racer Dan Revering drew the lucky No. 1 one chip so he could break the trail for the rest of the pack. A total of 19 pros entered and would start in pairs 15 seconds apart. Ross Erdman (Arctic Cat) joined Revering as the front two, Taylor Bunke (Polaris) and David Brown (Arctic Cat) being the second pair. Twenty Semi Pro entries started after the Pro sleds with the remaining classes starting behind them.
Dan Revering took the early race lead Ross Erdman following closely behind. Since the race was ran as a timed event, the order they cross the line does not determine the finishing order. Shortly into the race, Pro rider Ken Murphy hit a frozen rut and kicked him off the sled in the middle of a farm field. As he waited for help to arrive the sleds continued to race through the snow dust that was haning in the air. Junior rider Aaden Olson couldn’t see Murphy’s sled and hit it. Murphy was out of the way, but Olson ended up sustaining some injuries. He continued to race but eventually had to pull out of the race.
The 500-mile race continued to cause adversity for many racers with 30 sleds not finishing the first lap; eight of those were Pro racers.
There were three mandatory fuel stops each day for all racers competing in both laps. Revering was the first sled into fuel stop number one with Erdman in second and Wes Selby up to third after starting seventh. Racers continued on back to the start/finish line to complete lap one of four on the weekend.
At the end of lap one, Revering was the lead sled with Selby in second and Brown in third. Previous second-place running Erdman pulled off and scored a DNF. Selby was the first sled out of the next fuel stop, taking the lead and putting Revering back into second. The third sled out of the fuel stop was Zach Herfindahl, who had charged up from the 15th starting position, putting Brown back to fourth.
The first Semi Pro sled after lap one was Polaris racer Evan Peppel.
There was another lead change coming into the third and final fuel stop for day one. Hard charger Herfindahl took over the lead on lap two. Selby now ran second with Revering running third. The first Semi Pro sled into the fuel stop was Boe Bunke followed by Cody Wolter and Caleb Nymann.
Racers then made their way back into Goodridge toward the checkered flag, marking the end of day one. The first sled across the line was the 312 Arctic Cat of Herfindahl. Revering came across second, Selby third, Brown fourth, and Alex Hetteen in fifth.
In the Semi Pro division, Boe Bunke was the first to cross the line with Cody Wolter in second, and Caleb Nymann third.
Adding It Up
After all racers were in, crews tallied up times and added/deducted times from credits and penalties given on day one.
The main credit to note was given to top Pro racers Revering and Selby. As they entered the first fuel stop, there was a fuel truck malfunction and these two racers had to wait for their fuel. The amount of delay was based off normal fueling times but the times were questioned so results were carefully re-evaluated and it was identified that fueling with the extreme cold temperatures was slower than normal so updated results were then posted based on this new information.
Revering ended up being the top time in the Pro class with Herfindahl in second, a mere 6.449 second out of the lead. Brown timed third, 7 minutes 14 seconds from the lead sled, with Wes Selby fourth and Alex Hetteen fifth.
In the Semi Pro class, Boe Bunke was the top sled, with Cody Wolter in second and Caleb Nyman third. In the Pro Factory Vet 40+ class, Nick Roehl was the top sled. Lydia Sobeck was the top sled after day one in the Pro Women’s class.
After sleds completed day one, there was a one-hour work period for teams to wrench on their machines. After the one hour was up, the machines were impounded and teams weren’t allowed to touch their sleds. Pro racer, Wes Selby went over the one-hour period by seven minutes so this time was added onto his overall running time.
The vintage class featured three brave entries that competed only on day one, running one lap. Paul Sillerud was the winner on his Arctic Cat over Mike Honken in second and Matt Honken in third, both on Moto Skis.
Run For Roses
On Sunday, temperatures were even colder and racers saddled up for another 250 miles. The first five sleds left with the gap that they finished with on Saturday, so Revering was the first sled off the line with Herfindahl 6.449 second behind him. Brown left 7 minutes and 14 second later, with Selby leaving about 10 seconds after Brown. Alex Hetteen was the last sled to leave with a timed gap taking off 2 minutes and 22 seconds after Selby. With this format, the first sled to cross the finish line should be the winner.
All the other sleds left with a 15 second gap between pairs.
On the course between the start and lap one, Pro racer Alex Hetteen had a hard off where he bottomed out his sled and his spine absorbed all of the force. Taylor Bunke was the first sled to come up on him and quickly parked his sled sideways in front of Hetteen to protect him from upcoming sleds. Bunke stayed parked there until EMS made it out. Cory Davis and Charlie Revering both came upon the accident next and tried to help get his sled out of the barbwire fence but weren’t able to. They continued to race and Bunke stayed to help.
Once paramedics were on scene Bunke rejoined the field. Alex ended up with a burse fracture to his L1 vertebrae and underwent a surgery in Fargo. We wish him the best on his recovery. We also want to thanks all the racers who stopped to help Alex, these three riders all received a time credit for the time they spent assisting their fellow racer.
Revering was the first sled into the first fuel stop of the day, with Herfindahl close behind. These two sleds continued to separate themselves from the rest of the field.
Sport Women’s racer, Annie Olson also had an “off” on lap one and had another racer not see her and run over her leg, resulting in a fracture to her foot. We wish the best on her recover as well. Thanks to Gabby Hallstrom for stopping to help her out; she also received a significant time credit.
After lap one, Revering was the first into the next fuel stop but Herfindahl was the first out and took over the lead. Herfindahl held the lead the remainder of the race and was the first sled to see the checkered flag after 500 miles.
After times were tallied, this made Herfindahl the 2022 I-500 champion, making this his fourth title since 2017. Herfindahl’s total time for the weekend was 7 hours 1 minutes and 30 seconds.
Revering took home the second-place position with a time of 7 hours 2 minutes and 10 seconds only 40.3 seconds out of the lead after 500 miles. Coming in third was Ski Doo racer Wes Selby with a time of 7 hours 14 minutes and 4 seconds.
Boe Bunke dominated the Semi Pro division, coming across the line sixth alongside the Pro sleds. His total time was 7 hours 26 minutes and 8 seconds. Coming in second in Semi Pro was Cody Wolter with a time of 7 hours 31 minutes and 26 seconds. with his brother Brandon Wolter coming in third (7 hours 39 minutes 30 seconds). That made for an all-Polaris podium. For the same run, Cody Wolter scored the win in Semi-Pro open because Bunke didn’t enter this class. Brandon Wolter took second and Nicholas Nyquist in third.
In the Pro Women’s class, Lydia Sobeck took home the victory on her Ski Doo with Jill Hetteen in second on her Polaris and McKenna Cloose in third on her Arctic Cat.
In the Pro Factory Vet 40+ class, Craig Ritzinger took the win with Nick Roehl second. Justin Winkler took the win in the Masters 40+ class with Ryan Weidemann taking second and Hollister Struck in third.
In the Masters 50+ class, Mike Carver was victorious with Larry Thayer in second and Brian Wrightsman taking third.
In the Sport Stock class, Lydia Sobeck was victorious again with Trent Reierson in second and Hollister Struck in third. Sobeck and Reierson were also scored first and second in Sport Improved Stock, with Anakin Bosek took third. In the Sport Women’s class, Gabby Hallstrom took the win over Frankie Omang in second and Annie Olson in third.
In the Expert 600 Limited class, Aiden Johnson clinched the win with Jaxon Hammer in second and Keagen Houser rounding out the podium. Those same three racers had double-entered in the Junior 14-17, so the podium was the same there.
In the Junior 14-17 Girls class, Unity Gausen took the win with Frankie Omang taking second. In the Junior 10-13 class, Rielly Clark earned the win with Bennett Iverson took the win with Reese Novacek third. Taylor Cloose won in Junior 10-13 Girls’ over Madyson Landin in second.
The final class, who only raced one lap on day two was the Classic class. Nathan Sillerud took the win with Adam Longtin in second and Jacob Anderson in third.
The Cor Powersports group wants to thank everyone that made this event possible! After four rounds of racing, Taylor Bunke and Zach Herfindahl are tied for season points in the Pro Stock class with 167 points. David Brown is sitting in third seven points back. In the Pro Open class, Aaron Christensen is leading points with Paul Brown in second and David Brown in third.
In the Semi Pro class, Evan Peppel is leading points with Cody Wolter 12 points back and Brandon Wolter 15 points back. In the Semi Pro Improved class, Cody Wolter is leading with Brandon Wolter 4 points back and Carter Hulke in third 47 points back. The Pro Womens class is a tight race with Lydia Sobeck leading by 2 points over Mckenna Cloose in second and Savannah Landrus in third 65 points out.