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    A Rookie Racer's View of the Soo I-500

    Posted by Ross Halvorson
    on Tuesday, February 17, 2015

     For the 2015 season, Polaris racer Andy Wenzlaff had stepped up to the Pro ranks at the Cor PowerSports cross country race series with the ambitions of winning a crosscountry championship and competing at the Soo I-500. Late fall of 2014 Andy was approached to consider joining a team to compete at the 2015 Soo event, so this was something he had not only been hoping for, but working very hard for as well.

    The start of his 2015 race season had not gone as planned. He struggled and missing the podium at the first few rounds of the Cor PowerSports series, but at Round 4 in Phillips, Wis. he took second in both Pro Stock and Pro Open races. This was his first podiums as a Pro racer, so riding that high into the next day’s Round 5 he just wanted to continue where he left off on Saturday. He did just that with a win in Pro Open. 

    The following weekend was his hometown race with the Cor PowerSports series hosting Round 6 in neighboring Friendship, Wis., but it also was the last race before leaving for Sault St Marie, Mich. for the famed Soo 500. With all that anticipation looming ahead he used the excitement as fuel for his racing on Castle Rock Lake. In Pro Open Andy once again found himself on the podium with a 3rd place finish, but when it came time for the premier Pro Stock 100 mile race Andy piloted his Polaris IQR to the top step for his second Pro win of the season. They briefly celebrated, but had to quickly change gears and get prepped to head to the Soo to join the Holeshot Motorsports team, as Andy would be racing with Billy Skea on the #73 Polaris.

    At the Castle Rock race we asked Andy if he would be interested in doing a rookie’s perspective of his Soo week, so now that he’s returned and had a chance to reflect here is his Soo Rookie experience: 

     “Coming into the Soo as a rookie driver, I wasn’t quite sure what kind of experience I would have. It was a different feeling for me to be showing up to the track on Monday night, not having done anything to prep my own sled for the race. Coming around the corner on I-75 and seeing the track all lit up for the first time is awesome. It is much bigger than one would expect.

                    The first time out on the track for rookie practice was an eye-opener for me. The sled handled a little bit differently than what I was used to, and it definitely had more power than my stock cross-country sled! After that first lap out on the track, things started to click and I just got more comfortable on the sled.

                    The low point of the week would have to be Wednesday night. At that point, we hadn’t qualified into the race yet, and the sled was not working with us very well. So we decided to make some drastic changes, as we knew that our first run on Thursday morning would be our best shot at putting down a time that would put us in the show. It worked! The primary driver of the sled, Billy Skea, went out and ran a time that put us around 35th. Throughout the day, a couple other teams put up fast times that bumped us down to the 38th spot. But we were in! After a few sleds dropped out, our official starting position for Saturday would be 35th.

                     The high point of the week was definitely race day. It was strange, I wasn’t nervous at all, although I think my mom was nervous for the both of us! I got on the sled right before the first plow break, and rode nearly until the second plow break. I believe I rode 115-120 laps. Once I came in, I was getting high fives and congrats from the whole crew, and learned that I was able to pick up some more spots, and we were now in 20th! Pretty soon after that, they ended up red-flagging the race, and eventually called it due to weather conditions. It was pretty frustrating as a racer to have the race called in the middle of Saturday afternoon with over 200 laps to go, when the track is equipped with lights and we were told in the drivers meeting that they were insured for Sunday so we could run then if need be. I guess that’s the way racing goes. Either way, I think starting 35th and moving up to 16th position in 282 laps is a pretty good accomplishment.

                    I want to thank the whole crew at Holeshot Motorsports Racing, and all their sponsors for allowing me this opportunity to ride in the Soo I-500. I also want to thank all the people and sponsors that support my own racing. You can keep updated on my race season at facebook.com/WenzlaffRacing, as I finish off the remainder of the COR PowerSports Cross-Country series.”

    Currently Andy Wenzlaff is tied for the points in Pro Stock and second place in Pro Open with 3 more rounds to go. Next up for Andy is taking on Bark River International Raceway in Bark River, Mich. This will be a short course cross country race utilizing the off road truck track and surrounding property on the raceway grounds. For more information on the Cor PowerSports series visit www.corpowersports.com.

    Todd Myers, AmSnow Race Contributor

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