As the ice oval season is drawing to a close, race teams and fans headed to Lake Mille Lacs, in Garrison, Minnesota to compete and watch the WSA Pro-Ice race that took place February 28-March 1.
It seems only fitting to stick with the tradition of ladies first. For the first time in several years, a full out women’s class was run. With eight competitors, ranging from age 10 to more than double that, this class had one of the highest number of entries for the weekend. Of the eight, it was 10-year old Danielle Behn, of Waupaca, Wisconsin, who took home the win. She went undefeated in this class, proving that age means nothing. Finishing behind her were Miranda Miller and Miranda Carlson, respectively.
This class would not have been possible had it not been for the generosity of those who borrowed out their snowmobiles. For this I would like to thank Hoglund Racing, the Wagner’s, the Stephenson’s and the Lessard’s. I would also like to thank all of the ladies who competed in this class, some of whom were first time racers.
On a similar note, rookie Lance Relf, of Winnipeg, Manitoba turned heads as he pegged two wins. Relf was able to beat out Mark Peterson after a restart in the Sprint 503 final but had to work a little harder for the win in Sprint 500 Open. Relf got a great start off the line only to have to race red flagged as Taylor Soli crashed. Soli was fine and the race was restarted but only to be red flagged again, this time because Relf crashed. For the third time, the race was restarted and everyone held their breath. All three competitors made it through corners one and two with Matt Ritchie leading. It looked as if one lap would finally be completed only to have Ritchie crash coming out of corner four. Ritchie was unable to restart the race and Relf took the win.
Despite his crash in the Sprint 500 Open final, Ritchie won all four of his previous finals, which were Junior I, II and III Sprint and Sprint 550. Ritchie was quick to thank all of his crew and family, including a special thanks to his Mom, saying, “She makes really good food.”
In Semi-Pro Champ, Trevor Fontaine went undefeated throughout qualifying and in the final. He led the first five laps of the eight lap final only to be passed by Curtis Boivin in the sixth. The two battled for a lap but Fontaine was able to regain the top position. “I didn’t know he was even back there,” said Fontaine on being passed by Boivin. Boivin, or, “the silent stalker” as Fontaine prefers, settled for a close second place saying, “I tried my best.”
There was even closer racing to be seen in the Pro Stock 600 final. In the Ski-Doo stacked class it was Cale Fredrickson who got the hole shot and the early lead. A hard charging Erik Peterson passed him on the inside of corner three in the third lap but the race was far from over. Fredrickson was relentless in trying to regain the lead and was able to do so in the sixth lap, passing Peterson on the outside just before he crashed in corner three. There was a staggered restart and from there Fredrickson lead the rest of the race. He came off the track saying, “That was one of the funnest races I’ve ever had!”
In Pro Champ and Pro Open, Nick Dolezal and PJ Wanderscheid were the two to beat. They battled all weekend in both classes and each came out with a win. Dolezal lead Pro Open from start to finish but had to spend some time waiting before completing the final nine laps of the twelve-lap race due to a crash. Wanderscheid derailed early in the race and pulled his sled to the inside of the front straightaway. Shane Peterson swerved to avoid hitting Wanderscheid’s parked sled and then moved back toward the inside of the track to avoid hitting those on the outside of him. It was then that Peterson and his sled hit the inside snow bank, which sent them both through the air. As a result, he broke his femur and underwent surgery on Sunday, which his family reported to be successful. Speaking on behalf of the entire racing community, we wish him a very speedy recovery. Once the race was restarted Dolezal took the win followed by Nick Van Strydonk and Spencer Graff, respectively.
In the Pro Champ final on Sunday, Dolezal once again had the lead from the beginning. Wanderscheid, however, was not going to let this one slip away from him. He finally got around Dolezal in the third corner of the second to last lap, saying, “I figured I’d go for it, or crash,” on his pass. Dolezal finished second behind him and Van Strydonk finished third.
WSA Pro-Ice Racing will hold it’s last points race of the season in collaboration with the Canadian Power Toboggan Championship in Beausejour, Manitoba March 7-8.