The International Watercross Associations race in Ely, Minnesota over the weekend of June 26, 2010 marked the end of a bad luck streak for one driver and may have started the beginning of a good one for many more.
The name Brian McCurdy, Jr. is certainly not new to the sport of watercross but has been absent from the list of winners for longer than any driver would be happy with. After winning the Pro Open Points Championship in 2008, McCurdy has been dealing with a number of issues that have kept him from a victory, until now. He clenched a win in his first qualifying round and from there on out was unbeatable on his Bikeman Performance Plus powered Yamaha. As a slight sprinkle of rain started to come down after what had been a beautiful and sunny weekend, the drivers lined up for the Pro Open final. McCurdy and Chad Maki took no time to establish their positions in the eight-lap race and it looked like they were set to pull away from the rest of the field until Maki sunk his sled. From that point on McCurdy let the race and took the checkered, followed by the ski Doo of Shawn Zurn and Polaris of Dennis Rhyner. In addition to his excellent driving, McCurdy’s win was made possible by Strub Motorsports, HMK, Forest Lake Sales and Service, BR Tech and his other sponsors.
Whether or not you call it a coincidence the Luck, Wisconsin native Cody Engstrand certainly had luck on his side on Sunday. In his first year of racing ovals fourteen year-old Engstrand beat out some of the toughest and most talented drivers the Semi Pro Stock class has to offer and by doing so captured his first ever watercross victory. Aboard his ABR Performance Polaris, Engstrand made the pass for the win around David Fischer late in the race. His unique cornering style makes riding a watercross sled look easy and unarguably contributed to the speed that won him the race. Taking second in the final was Fischer and the Yamaha of Troy Marsh finished third.
Although Fischer didn’t get the win in Semi Pro Stock he did go undefeated throughout qualifying in the 800 Drag class and went on to pilot his Ski Doo to the win on Sunday. Krista Maki-Zurn, also on a Ski Doo was the other undefeated driver through qualifying rounds and set the stage for what would have been an extremely close race between her and Fischer. However, not long after she hit the water things got crazy as she fought her sled to drive in a straight line and saved herself multiple times from what could have been an extremely wicked crash. So although she didn’t win as she had hoped, I think she should get the award for Most Awesome Save(s) of the Weekend. The field was rounded out with Engstrand finishing second and the Ski Doo of Clinton Fjosne taking third.
Despite not finishing the Pro Open final, all was not lost for Maki. After winning every single one of his Pro Stock qualifying races, he was the one to beat in the final. On his Danner sales Ski Doo Maki led the entire eight-lap race and took the checkered. Behind him finished the Ski Doo of Andy Busse and the Polaris of Dan Hoffman.
No one man was as dominate in the Semi Pro Open class, which made for a very exciting final. By the end of the six-lap race the Polaris of Greg Metz took the win with the Yamaha of Dan Dombrowsky finishing second and the Polaris of Nate Winberg rounding off the top three.
In Mod Drags it was Matt Ledin who was fastest, with a little help from his friend Shawn Zurn who borrowed him his Ski Doo. In an extremely close battle for second place, it was Aaron Hein, also on a Ski Doo who left the Yamaha of Jeff Fischer to finish third.
The Polaris dominated 600 Drag class was won by Eric Keith, with Nick Benoy and Cole Engstrand taking second and third, respectively.
With the Ely, Minnesota race now behind them, the world of watercross looks forward with great anticipation to the greatest event of the season, the Grantsburg World Championships. Racers will take the time they have off to fine-tune and tweak their machines before heading to Memory Lake July 16-18, 2010.
As always, if you would like more information about the International Watercross Association or any of their events, please visit www.iwausa.org.