Iron Dog race promises speed, determination and athleticism
There are few, if any, motorsport events that can measure up to the Iron Dog. From the physical hardships of the racers, to the logistics of putting on such a massive event, it is a testament to the love of the sport by organizers and racers alike.
This year’s race should prove no different. With an astoundingly skilled field of racers, and the best performance sleds the snowmachine industry has ever produced, the 2014 Iron Dog is going to be a bit of a conquest. At 2,031 miles from Big Lake to Nome and then Fairbanks, participants aren’t simply gunning for the finish line; they’re pushing new boundaries in the limits of man and machine.
The battle for Top Dog continues Feb. 16, as races take off from Big Lake.
“On the race front, I’m really excited about the strong teams,” says Iron Dog executive director Kevin Kastner. “There are so many real contenders this year, that it’s going to be exciting to watch.”
The level of competition only adds to the building drama. Teams have changed race partners, racers are riding different brands of sleds, rural teams are picking up more support, and Polaris has passed the baton to Ski-Doo as the brand with the most tracks on the trail.
“This is the first time that I’m aware of that Ski-Doo has the largest number of teams compared to everyone else,” Kastner confirmed.
One of the more notable teammate changes, a split some thought would never happen, is between Todd Palin and Scott Davis. Palin will now ride alongside Tyler Huntington as Team 11 on Ski-Doo, both proven contenders with first-place trophies to decorate the mantel. Meanwhile, Davis has partnered up with Aaron Bartel, Team 7 also riding Ski-Doo. Bartel’s a youngster by any comparison who proved his ability last year with a fourth-place finish. Davis’s near-30 years of Iron Dog racing and Bartel’s determination and skill will likely keep them near the head of the pack.
Both Palin and Davis have shed their green colors for the new Ski-Doos, but there’ll still be a Davis on the trail waving the green colors of Arctic Cat. Cory Davis, son of Scott, will be competing against his father with teammate Ryan Simons, Team 41 riding Arctic Cat. Both Cory and Simons are X-Games veterans and champion riders.
Of course, everyone’s competing against last year’s champs, Dusty VanMeter and Marc McKenna, Team 17 riding Ski-Doo. They’ll be defending their title as hard as ever, knowing when it comes to Iron Dog, a previous win doesn’t guarantee success.
“There’s so many good teams that I don’t think we’re that far above anybody to relax and not go,” VanMeter said. “There’s no doubt that we’ve been one of the top teams for many years. Whether you won or not, you know, you’re still a force to be reckoned with and there are several more of those in the race.”
Racers will depart from the starting line on Big Lake in random order determined by the annual drawing. Each team leaves in succession, and their overall course time determines the winner. The leaders average nearly 60 mph the entire 2,031 miles.
Over 20 checkpoints and rural communities are visited along the way, allowing Iron Dog to connect with thousands of rural residents and Alaska Natives, many of whom look forward to cheering the racers on or volunteering to assist the race.
Locally, spectators can enjoy starting-line festivities on frozen Big Lake. Join in on halfway challenge awards in Nome and the finish line fun in Fairbanks with the awards banquet at the Fairbanks Westmark Hotel.
From home stay on top of the race action on the Iron Dog website and Facebook page with fan discussions and live GPS tracking. Local TV stations are also expected to have live coverage mixed in with Winter Olympics presentations and news programming.
Schedule of Events
Racer’s Drawing & Hall of
Fame Banquet (Anchorage)
Donlin Gold Tech Inspection
and Safety Expo
Start of the Trail Class
on Big Lake
Start of the Pro Class on
Halfway Banquet in Nome
Finish of the Pro Class