IWA Season Opener in Moose Lake, MN

The International Watercross Association (IWA) kicked off its racing season June 4th and 5th in beautiful Moose Lake, MN.  Over 50 racers from throughout the upper Midwest come together for each and every IWA event making the competition fierce and the action fast!

The crowd was blessed with two wonderful early June days full of sunny skies and warm breezes as the IWA racers took to the water.  In the Stock 600 Drags, we had a first time winner, #779 Laura Henderson.  Laura and her Husband Rob made the trip to Moose Lake from Fond Du Lac, Wisconsin.  This is Laura’s second year racing her Snowmobilers.com, Prilosec OTC Ski-Doo with the IWA and her excitement was a treat for the entire crowd and pit area.  The Stock 800 Drags were dominated all weekend by #176 Krista Maki-Zurn aboard her GLH Performance Ski-Doo.  Krista went un-defeated for the weekend with hardly a serious challenge in a single heat.  Krista is no stranger to winning races though, she is the reigning World Champion in Stock 800 Drags and looks like she’s on track for a repeat performance in 2011.

The Mod Drag class features the fastest sleds in the World on the water.  These highly modified machines reach speeds of up to 80 MPH in the 400 foot drag course!  Leading the way at the 2011 Moose Lake Grand Prix was hometown hero Clint (Bubba) Fjosne.  Complete with “Bubba” T-shirts and full regalia, the #222 fan club was out in force and Bubba didn’t disappoint.  He narrowly edged #413 Chad Maki at the finish line, earning the first Mod Drag victory of his career.

When the ovals began on Sunday, the whole pit area was buzzing with anticipation.  As drivers worked their way towards the finals, the crew members worked diligently to keep the machines prepared and the entire crowd could feel the tension growing.  The first oval final of the day was Semi-Pro Stock and it was a flag to flag “beat down” on the competition by #517 Arthur “Bud” Coen aboard his KMA Racing Ski-Doo.  Bud had the field covered all weekend long and when he got the opportunity to win his first final in Semi Pro Stock, he seized it!  I’ve known and watched Bud’s racing career from the time he was just a 5-year old kid working with his Dad and Brother in the pits and it was a really neat experience to see him win his first race.  When the Semi-Pro Open final lined up, I told our flag man Kris Hicks, “Be on your toes, this is going to be one heck of a race”.  As they completed the first lap it was the #134 Ski-Doo of JT Kosnitch in the lead and he would hang on for his first IWA win!  JT’s GLH Performance Ski-Doo was lightning fast and was also pulling double duty this weekend!  JT was quick to thank Shawn Zurn of GLH Performance for tuning his sled and giving him a piece that he could win with.

In Pro Stock, it was IWA Veteran and  2-time World Champ Dale Lindbeck leading the way aboard his stock Arctic Cat HCR.  Chad Maki, who had been undefeated in the class the previous season, had an unfortunate crankshaft failure which sidelined him for the remainder of the Pro Stock competition.  Lindbeck fought off an early charge from first year Pro Dan Dombrowsky and found his way into Victory Lane after the 8-lap feature.  Afterward, Lindbeck commented “I needed that one” and thanked his son and teammate DJ for all the help over the weekend.

As we prepared for the big Pro Open Final, we had the top 6 drivers of the weekend assembled on the starting line.  #442 Brian McCurdy Jr on the Bikeman Performance Yamaha, reigning Watercross World Champion Chad Maki aboard the #413 Danner Sales, Ski-Doo Racing REV-XP, #812 Dennis “Studman” Rhyner on the SnowShack Polaris, #30 Kyle Carpenter on the BIG Industries Polaris, Aaron Wallin riding the #26 Studman Racing Polaris, and #76 Shawn Zurn riding the borrowed machine of JT Kosnitch.  Zurn had an ignition failure with his rocket fast GLH Performance Ski-Doo earlier in the weekend and when he was unable to get it fixed, he turned to teammate JT Kosnitch to use his machine as a back-up.  A rule change in IWA competition allows for drivers to go to a backup sled in the case of a failure and Zurn was able to capitalize on the new rule.

As the race began, it was #30 Kyle Carpenter with the holeshot and he kept a tight inside line to lead the first 5 laps of the event.  Followed closely by Chad Maki and Shawn Zurn, Carpenter began to feel the pressure and made a critical mistake on the 6th lap hitting a huge wave that separated him from his machine and opened the door for Maki and Zurn.  Maki dove to the inside, but Zurn had to take immediate evasive action to keep from running Carpenter over and risking serious injury to the defenseless driver.  Shawn pulled the sled hard to the right causing his own sinking in order to save a hard impact with Carpenter.  This left Maki with a huge lead and he would cruise to victory.

It’s going to be an exciting summer of IWA racing.  If you would like more information about the IWA you can visit their website at www.iwausa.org or you can follow IWA Racing on Facebook.com.  IWA has events coming up on June 25th and 26th in Ely, MN and the 35th Annual World Championship Watercross in Grantsburg, WI on July 15th, 16th, and 17th. I hope to see you at the races!

Mike Benoy

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