Arctic Cat racer Dan Ebert won the Pro 600 class in the 2010 United States Cross-Country (USCC) Red Lake I-500 today. He covered the 505-mile course in 8 hours, 11 minutes, 35 seconds. Gabe Bunke (8:13:42) finished second on a Polaris 600 Rush and Ryan Huston (8:16:22) finished third, also on an Arctic Cat.

This was Ebert’s second run at the I-500 crown. He competes full-time on the International Series of Champions snocross circuit, but it wasn’t until this week that the 22-year-old had a sled for this race — a spare machine from his snocross team.

“We just picked the best-looking practice sled,” Ebert said. The team tore it down and rebuilt it, and then rode it the days leading up the big race to test and tune. “We thrashed on that thing Monday and Tuesday, hard. We busted our butts,” he said.

A blown track took DJ Ekre out the I-500 while he was in the lead today.
A blown track took DJ Ekre out of the I-500 while he was in the lead today.

Ebert won by almost 2 minutes, but the day didn’t come without any worries. By about mid-way through today’s 164-mile loop, track failures had taken several Arctic Cat riders out of the race, including leader DJ Ekre. Ebert had no way of knowing about the problems other racers were having when he came into the last gas stop, but his dad and lead tuner Russ Ebert tipped him off to the trouble when he told him not to let it ratchet. “I just thought ‘Man, I don’t know if I’ve heard that before,'” Ebert said about noises coming from his sled as he charged toward the finish line. Third-place finisher Huston said after the race that his Sno Pro’s track wouldn’t have lasted another 15 miles.

Racers left the Seven Clans Casino today and headed northwest toward Thief River Falls, Minn. A wide-open pull on a snowless eight-mile road section has been blamed for the track problems. Drivers reported their sleds’ speedometers showed 105 mph in the groove on the dirt. But without enough snow cover to lube and cool the tracks, some of them overheated and fell apart. Today’s course included woods, ditch and river running, too.

Gabe Bunke runs hard on a river section during the first leg of today's loop in the I-500.
Gabe Bunke runs hard on a river section during the first leg of today’s loop in the I-500.

Veteran Bunke said he had a fun day of racing, even though flat light made it tough for him to see. He thought he might be able to catch the younger Ebert on a fast section. “Every little marker I saw on the river I thought it was him, but it wasn’t,” Bunke said.

Fortunately for Ebert, Bunke ran out of time to make a move. “I wasn’t the fastest sled today, for sure. But sometimes the cards just fall in your favor and I lucked out,” Ebert said.

Reporter’s Notebook:

Today is Dan Ebert‘s 22nd birthday. Can you think of a better birthday present than a $10,000 check for winning the I-500? Arctic Cat snowmobile product manager Joey Hallstrom said he lost 20 pounds to compete in the Expert 85 class. He finished in fifth place. Longtime Arctic Cat engineer Roger Skime also raced. The 66-year-old is a legend at Arctic Cat and the brains behind a lot of snowmobile innovation to come from Thief River Falls. Cory Davis wrecked after the second fuel stop yesterday — while going 100 mph!!! His wrist required several stitches on deep cuts caused when his arm struck the jagged running board edge. “I was scared,” he said. Tucker Hibbert, the multi-time X Games snocross gold medal winner and the winner of more than 50 pro snocross finals on WPSA and ISOC circuits was on hand today checking out some racing action. Hibbert doesn’t like to go fast, he said, so don’t look for him go cross-country racing.

Tucker Hibbert at the I-500
Tucker Hibbert at the I-500

USCC Red Lake I-500 results:

Pro 600: 1. Dan Ebert (Cat); 2. Gabe Bunke (Pol); 3. Ryan Huston (Cat); 4. Cody Kallock (Cat); 5. Aaron Christensen (Pol); 6. Chad Lian (Cat); 7. Jess Thielen (Pol); 8. Arne Rantanen (Cat); 9. Nock Roehl (Doo); 10. Brian Dick (Cat).

Semi-Pro 600: 1. Cole Nyman (Cat); 2. Dustin Holmstrom (Pol); 3. Jeff Ignaszewski (Pol); 4. Steve Arneson (Cat); 5. Erik Bute (Cat); 6. Scott Pivec (Cat); 7. Ryan Faust (Pol); 8. Carter Diesen (Cat); 9. Jason Busse (Doo); 10. Adam Brandt (Cat).

Expert 85: 1. Trevor John (Cat); 2. Bryce Buchanan (Cat); 3. Carter Diesen (Cat); 4. Jeff Gruhlke (Cat); 5. Joey Hallstrom (Cat).

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