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    2015 Champ Race Sled Revealed

    Posted by Ross Halvorson
    on Thursday, November 13, 2014

     As the 2015 race season closes in, a lot of race fan’s focus has been on Duluth, but this week my inbox got a few spy pics from the 2012 Eagle River World Champion ice oval racer and Factory Polaris racer, Nick Van Strydonk, debuting his 2015 Polaris Champ sled for this season. Nick will be piloting a Rush Axys champ sled.

    I have had little interaction with ice ovals, as my history has been in cross country racing and snocross, but last season a friend connected me with Nick to do some media work and the footage we gathered me gave a huge insight into ice ovals. Sure I knew they went crazy fast and turned left, but to see it from the vantage point that our POV camera’s captured was insane! The roost, body English, and how close they ran together was crazy cool!

    I got a message from Nick back in October with the caption “For your eyes only”.  Of course, that immediately peaked my interest. I opened it up and here was the most beautiful thing for a racer to see, a full carbon fiber hood from Patrick Customs for Nick’s 2015 champ sled in the new Axys design. My son also races an Axys chassis sled in cross country so of course I absolutely loved it and sorry Nick but I did have to show my son. Carbon Fiber has always been something exotic and, for a lack of a better description, just plain sexy!

     Nick offered to give us the exclusive opportunity to unveil the sled to the world for the first time. We decided what better way to unveil it than to do an interview with Nick to find out what’s up for the 2015 season!

    AmSnow: When we look at your history we see a lot of success, but what is the one thing that means the most to you?

    Nick: My biggest career highlight has to be winning the ’12 World Championship. I looked forward to running that race when I was a little kid, and I made it a life goal to win at least one. I now can set higher goals of winning another one, but having done that once it’s a big weight off my shoulders. Knowing I put my mind to something and completing it with the help of my family and crew is a huge sense of accomplishment.

    AmSnow: A lot of work goes into competing at the level you do. Can you gives us the lowdown on what it takes?

     Nick: Competing at the level we are at takes long hours in the race shop, a dedicated team, understanding families, and a drive to do nothing but succeed. Along with the equipment, the drivers endure year round training and a diet along the lines of body builders to maintain a level of fitness necessary to handle the intense workouts we get during every lap. 

    AmSnow: Last year you had some great early-season success, and on Saturday at the Ironwood, Mich. race you were on top of the world winning the main. Then Sunday when things were looking good for a repeat of the day before, in a blink of an eye things changed, what is that like?

    Nick: I honestly couldn't tell you… I don't remember much of Sunday, short of waking up in the hay with the track workers letting me know I was involved in an accident. The ride home was long but it seemed as though the season shifted gears from good to bad after that wreck. It’s a tough pill to swallow knowing your equipment, confidence and courage are compromised so early in the season.

    AmSnow: Last year at the Eagle River World Championships it was amazing to be able to watch the live feed and for fans to be able to see this racing all over the world, as a racer how does this benefit you?  

    Nick: Technology has come so far in the recent years and with the option of Live Feed racing it gives the interested fans yet another way to keep in touch with the race series. With that option it gives more exposure to possible sponsors and at the same time more promotion for current sponsors of every race team out there. Our race team, like many others, needs those companies willing to invest in the sport to be able to do what we love, race, and without them there wouldn't be a show.

    AmSnow: Eagle River to ice ovals this is like your Daytona 500 or Super Bowl. Why does this one event carry so much importance to you as a racer?

    Nick: Eagle River has always help a special place in the hearts of most snowmobile enthusiasts. It’s one of the oldest snowmobile races in the world and since it is the World Championship that track carries the honor of crowning the best in the world.

    AmSnow: Ok, with all this Eagle River talk you know we have to ask it and it didn’t get as much exposure as deserved, but tell us about your lap coming into the mandatory pit stop?

     Nick: Well, the race started out ok for us. We made it through the first corner and had decent track position. The first half of the race is just a matter of positioning yourself in a place to be competitive at the end, while saving the sled and yourself for the finish. We made 3 laps before coming out of corner 2 and the drive belt flipped upside down. I knew the sound instantly as it has happened in the past. I was merely trying to milk it out as long as possible while not going a lap down and as I was running into corner 3 on the last lap of the first leg it let loose. One of the corner workers walked up to me and so I asked if I could get towed to the front stretch for the pit stop. With racing you are not allowed any outside assistance so he replied "If you get put on the cart, you’re out of the race." I then asked if I could push it to the finish. He had to radio to the officials and to get clarification and then he was informed by the race director I could as long I did without assistance. I’m not sure how many people actually know how much banking there is at Eagle River but I can tell you that you physically cannot walk up, or stand on the ice in corner 3-4. As I started pushing the sled I heard him radio the officials I was going to push it and then he told the race director again, "No, really, he’s going to push it." I knew if I could get the sled to the finish my crew wouldn't let me down and they would have the sled ready to race. My crew puts in more hours than any team I know of and I wasn't going to quit on them until I physically couldn't do it anymore.

    AmSnow: As with any form of snowmobile racing, the rider gets all the accolades, but it is a true team effort. Who makes up the T&N Racing team?

    Nick: The team is made up of mostly family although I think it’s safe to say that we are family with the amount of time spent together. In the fab department there is my dad Alan, welder/fab man Tom, Welder Jerry, Mechanic Jim, Welder/fab Dustin, tech/data Ben, mechanic Bob, Mechanic Larry, mechanic Terry, Truck driver Gary, and new for this year, well, not really new, but back for the new season my cousin will be re-joining the team along with his dad Mark as his head mechanic. We all have our own special areas and each one compliments the others, we have a very productive team.

    We would like to thank Nick for giving us this opportunity to unveil his new champ race sled for the 2015 season. We wish you the best of luck this winter!

    To follow Nick or get more info on the T&N Race team visit www.tandnracing.com

    - Todd Myers, AmSnow Race Contributor

    Photos courtesy of Cor Powersports Media, Polaris 365, 447 Photography

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