Photos From Thursday's Events
LBM Speedshop Dominates Woody's Challenge
There was no stopping the No. 5 LMB Speedshop Polaris during the Woody's Challenge pro-am race Thursday night at the International 500 Snowmobile Race track. Kevin Gainforth lapped all but six of the 16 entrants during the first 20-lap portion of the race and led the second-place sled by more than 26 seconds. Once the field was bunched up again and the top drivers took over, Eric Bouman gained 9.693 seconds on the second-place No. 32 Piche Performance Polaris to get the win and the $1,000 prize from Woody's Traction. Gainforth will drive Saturday with the No. 12 Countryside Motorsports team that starts on the pole. He rode the LMB Speedshop machine just once before the Challenge and said it "was just a slow practice session. “It was turning through the corner real good, was great down the straightaway and there was a clear track so I could see where I was going,” Gainforth said. “ The winning snowmobile is not a “Soo Sled,” but a purpose-built sled for MIRA races, said Bouman, who praised his fellow driver. “For (Gainforth) to come out here after riding this just once, that just shows how good of a driver he is,” Bouman said.
I-500 Starting Line-up
|1||12||Countryside Motorsports||Grant Vermeersch
|2||11||Wuppett Wace Team||John Bozek
|3||21||Cadarette Collision||Troy DeWald
|4||20||R&R Racing||Josh Ware
|5||19||Tommie Bauer Racing||Cody Badour
|6||3||XLT Engineering/ Woody's||Corey Davidson
|7||32||Piche Performance||Larry Young
|8||311||Yamaha Racing||Ross Erdman
|9||85||Eichenberg Racing||Kris Eichenberg
|10||10||Countryside Motorsports||Cam Vermeersch
|11||35||Team Torture||Scott Odom
|12||74||Bunke Racing||Gabe Bunke
|13||22||Beard Motorsports||Mike Haynes
|14||02||Team Blu||Joel Diamond
|15||131||131 Racing||Mike Babcock
|16||18||Dunn Racing||James Hicks
Dale Dunn Jr.
|17||537||Bunke Racing 2||Ryan Faust
|18||29||DL Racing||Justin Tate
|19||14||Gentz /Bouchard Racing||Chad Dyrdah
|20||67||Hoos Racing||Bill Wilkes
|21||16||Russell Racing||Shane Felegy
|22||1||Blue Team Racing||Rod Bell
|23||167||Mohan Racing||Darrell Howard
|24||5||LMB Speedshop||Kevin Bouman
|25||52||Christian Bros. Racing||Ryan Simons
|26||X1||KingKat Racing||Isaac Wolfgang
|27||9||Mayer Racing||Aaron Mayer
|28||407||Yovich Racing||Brian Anderson
|29||17||R&S Racing||John Booth
|30||26||Top Secret Racing||Lance Kalbfleisch
|31||42||Millenium Motorsports||Andy Shoemaker
|32||57||Felzke Farms||James Heiler
|33||86||Team Traction||Tim Gregory
|34||34||Kovar Racing||Jim Erickson
|35||63||Eckert Racing||Antero Tarvudd
|36||72||Applebee's Racing||Karl Schwartz
|37||36||K&K Racing||Walt Komarnizki
|38||66||Moyle Racing||Gary Moyle
|* The No. 73 Holeshot Motorsports team did not qualify|
NOTE: EVENT UPDATE - #72 Applebees Racing, #36 K & K Racing & #66 Moyle Racing will be in the field for the 45th running of the SOO I-500. 38 teams will take the green flag. An updated line up is listed above.
The No. 167 Mohan Racing team escaped the bubble Thursday, clocking a lap of 43.484 seconds at an average speed of 82.79 mph to move up to 24th place to start Saturday's 45th Annual International 500 Snowmobile Race. The Anchorage, Alaska-based Arctic Cat with lead driver Darrell Howard entered the final day of qualifying in 38th place with 42 teams vying for an I-500 spot. This is the first time since 2004 more teams registered for qualifying than there were spots in the field. Positions are unofficial until final registration Friday. If teams drop out or choose not to register for the I- 500 for any reason, the teams that did not make the top 38 will fill out the field. Missing the cut for now are the No. 72 Applebee's Racing Polaris with 1984 I-500 champion Karl Schwartz, Walt Komarnizki on the No. 36 K&K Racing Ski-Doo out of Sault Ste. Marie, Gary Moyle on the No. 66 Moyle Racing Arctic Cat out of Houghton, Mich., and Billy Skea on the No. 73 Holeshot Motorsports Polaris out of Traverse City, Mich. There were no changes to the top 10 as the track is a little torn up after three days of qualifying. The snow Wednesday prevented track officials from being able to water the track overnight. Grant Vermeersch of Unionville, Mich., riding the No. 12 Countryside Motorsports Yamaha, will start first, with John Bozek of Garfield, Minn., riding the No. 11 Wuppet Wace Team Polaris, will start second. The No. 32 Piche Performance Polaris out of Sault Ste. Marie posted the best time of the day in 42.164 seconds (85.38 mph).
Two-Time Indy 500 Champ to Wave Green Flag
Gordon Johncock, a two-time winner of the Indianapolis 500, will be the honorary flagman to start the race Saturday, the I-500 confirmed Wednesday night. Johncock won the Indianapolis 500 in 1973 and 1982, with his second win coming in what was at the time the smallest margin in Indy 500 history. He retired from racing in 1992. Johncock is a special guest of Team 131 Menne Racing and crew chief Ivan Hansen, a past I-500 winning driver. Team 131 invited Gordon to be part of the team this year. This is Gordon’s first experience with snowmobile racing. He is excited and looking forward to Saturday’s race. The I-500 has its roots in Indy lore. The original race rules and qualifying format for the inaugural race in 1969 were modeled after Indy 500 rules. The I-500 considers itself the Indy 500 of snowmobile races, and we are honored to have a true racing legend at our track during Raceday.
In Memoriam of Leroy Lindblad
The I-500 Committee is dedicating the 45th Annual race to one of its original stars, Leroy Lindblad. The Roseau, Minn., native died on Oct. 13, 2012, in Salina, Kan. He was 72. "He helped me when I was starting out, racing out of Pro-5," said racer Mike Staszak. "He was one of the smartest men I've ever met when it comes to snowmobiles. "We're going to miss him. I've never met a guy who didn't like Leroy. If you find one, I'd like to meet him." Lindblad won the 6th Annual I-500 in 1974 on a Polaris and was the first driver to win the race from pole position, which he also won in 1975. Lindblad was inducted into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in January 1992. "I remember standing here on the bluff when I was 13 years old and watching him," Staszak said. "He was a legend. We're going to miss him."
The Rookie Roundup
The Rookie Roundup finally got underway this morning when 23 sleds took to the track for race officials to determine whether they are allowed to race Saturday. The rookies took 17 laps and practiced the harrowing two-abreast stars going into Turn 1.
Coming Up - Friday
The Miss International 500 Pageant will be held at 6 p.m. in the vendor tent. The Kids Mini-Z Race gets underway 7 p.m. in the I-500 parking venue. Teams will be off the track Friday as they are busy registering and setting up their sleds to withstand the abuse of 500 miles.
Media Director: Peter Pietrangelo, firstname.lastname@example.org, 906-235-4893
Spokesperson: Ric Federau, 989-808-5266