Eagle River World Championship Snowmobile Derby- (Eagle River, WI)

TLR Cup Round 3

Eagle River WC

Friday Night Thunder (TLR Cup R3)- 5th / 23 racers
World Championship Sunday- 4th / 23 racers

After a weekend off to get things locked and loaded we arrived at the Derby Track on Wednesday night for the mandatory driver’s meeting that would break down this year’s rules and procedures, and like most years, you left the meeting not very clear on how things were going to work with the new rules put in place. I like the idea of having this meeting because it gives every team an opportunity to voice their concerns, but too many of the questions that were asked were left not really with a clear answer….but we’ve come to expect this every year.

Thursday morning provided us with an hour of practice in the morning, which is not as much time as youd think, to get the sled dialed in for time trials that evening. We got 3 runs and made handling adjustments after each one to try and get the sled to turn easier coming in. We made some progress but I still think with the changing track conditions we could get it to feel smoother. We would have two cracks at laying down 2 fast laps. Our first run was about 2 tenths faster than our second run to put us as 7th fastest of the field of 23. Making more adjustments for the Friday Night Thunder Sweet Sixteen heat race that night, we would have to finish in the top 4 to advance to Friday’s semi final. We would finish 2nd to Skidoo teammate and eventual world champion, Matt Schultz.

Friday Night Thunder has always been my favorite night of racing, ever since racing Kitty Kats against Jordan Wahl on the front stretch, but its always a long one with the 16 lap final going off at 11:00. We finished 2nd in the semi final to advance us to the 10 racer, 16 lap final where the winner goes straight to the pole position for the
WC on Sunday. With the start of the TLR Cup a couple of years back, this race is also considered a points race, so finishing well here on Friday night is a must if you are chasing that year end points championship. The race was a caution filled one with the track getting rougher and rougher with every lap, and multiple drivers jumping the restarts taking advantage of the flagman, but we were able to walk away with a 5th place finish and move up to 3rd in the overall TLR Cup points standings! This puts us in a good position for next weekend in Wausau to chase down 2nd place.

Saturday at the Derby is always the most hectic and stressful day because one screw up today and you’ll have to go through the last chance qualifier on Sunday in order to make it into the WC. A top 4 1st heat and a top 3 in the semi final puts you in the WC on Sunday and after a scary tumble in the quarter final after I got a little loose coming out of 1 and got hit from behind sending me into the infield, we recovered and finished 2nd in the heat and 2nd in the semi to qualify us 6th on the front row for Sunday. Its always pretty special to be one of the 10 guys to make it on the front row and receive a top ten qualifier ring, but getting your name on the Snow Goer Cup is the only thing I’m shooting for because I know I have the team and equipment to do so.

Sunday consisted of a half hour of practice a 12:30, watching the last chance qualifier to see who would be in the back row, and meet and greet session with the fans which I always love attending getting to see some of the up and coming racers and fans. The sled felt a little loose in practice and we made an adjustment for the 30 lap final at 3:00. Not only was the track as rough as ever, but the temperature turned south over night and it was a windy -3 degrees which would make more of an effort to keep hands warm and lenses from fogging up. Starting 6th put us in the middle of the track which usually has the most chewed up ice, but we ripped a good holeshot and put us 3rd into the turn and down the back stretch. We would stay there until the break after 10 laps. The sled was handling great so I wanted to changes for the handling and instead used the 10 minutes to get warm again and clean my goggles. We would restart 3rd for the remaining 20 laps and battled for 3rd until the red flag came out with about 8 laps to go. We would restart 4th with only 7 sleds on the lead lap, but with another good holeshot we shot up to 2nd and for 2 laps but eventually faded to 4th after a couple mess ups on my end. In that race alone I think I learned more about driving and relaxing than I have in an entire race weekend, which really makes me excited to get back there next year to try and progress.

Congrats to Matt Schultz and his crew as he won his 2nd world championship, and only lost one race all weekend. Heading to his hometown track in Wausau this weekend for the 525 Flip Merwin Memorial race and rounds 4 & 5 of the TLR Cup, Matt will be the one to beat. Like always I’d like to thank ALL of our sponsors:

Advanced Compressor Technology
Brookstone Construction
STERNE Construction
Patrick Custom Carbon
Major Heating and Cooling
Fast-trac Conveyor Service
Driveline Truck Repair
SPY Optics
139 Designs
Granary Restaurant
Don’t Stop the Music Entertainment

I’d also like to thank everyone that helped me out this weekend and supported in any way they could. We had a lot of visitors throughout the weekend which is always nice to see and catch up with old friends we’ve made over the years. Special thanks go out to my parents, Tim, Dave, Karl, Johnny, Jeff, Sam, Andy, Nick, Jaime, Shannon, Alex, Ally, Jody, and Brittany. We had a big team this weekend with a jam packed trailer, but it was fun having you all there. Check out our Facebook page for videos & pictures from this past weekend and upcoming promotions to win some Sterne Racing gear!


-Gunnar #220