DL Racing: Chasing The Soo 2.0

There's nothing like unwrapping some new buggies to put a smile on a guy's face.

For DL Motorsports and team owner Don LaBean, two must be a lucky number. Or at least he’s hoping it is. You see, 2012 will mark DL Racing’s second attempt at wining the Soo I-500, the team will run two sleds and they have two new riders. Yeah, you could say two is a pretty critical digit for Don and the team right about now.

With the 44th Soo I-500 a little over a month away, the DL Racing crew has already been hard at it for a few months getting everything situated for this year’s race. From taking delivery of new buggies, meeting with sponsors, attending Haydays, and making the plan to not enter 1 but 2 (2!) sleds in the SOO I-500 this year, there’s definitely been a lot going on.

“After a pretty successful launch into enduro racing last season, why not expand and put two sleds in every race” Says owner Don LaBean “We have the resources, man power, and a list of sponsors that totally support our team. The biggest hurdle for us this year was sorting through the resumes from racers who wanted to be a part of our team this season.”

All new and shiny, they almost look ready to ride.

DL Racing will have the same three riders back on board with the team this season, but with a few changes. With two sleds, Justin Tate will be switching over to the new No. 28 sled, while Shane Felegy and Joey Fjerstad will team up to ride the No. 29.

The team will also welcome Soo veteran and multi-time champion Jeff Leuenberger. Jeff brings a ton of knowledge and strategy to the team and a few new helping hands to pit row. Jeff will throw a leg over the No. 28 with Justin this season.

Also new to the team will be Grant Lynch. Grant spent a fair amount of time last season bouncing between cross-country racing as well as racing the Soo I-500. The DL Racing team is expecting big things from him this year.

The shop has been buzzing with activity getting sleds ready to race.

Not quite. The DL crew goes to work immediately, tearing down the sleds to the bare chassis to get them ready for the Soo.

“Sleds have been delivered and completely disassembled already, said LaBean, “The front ends have been tweaked and modified from what we learned last year and some subtle changes have been made to make adjustability a little easier.”

With the race looming just a month away it makes what little test time is left really critical.

“ The team is working really hard to make sure we are ready for the first test session in a few weeks and we plan on holding nothing back with either sled come the Soo,” said LaBean.

Stay tuned to sledracer.com for more updates from DL Racing and Chasing the Soo 2.0

Sponsors: DL Racing, Woody’s, Polaris, Tiede2 Motorsports, Wahl Bros., Camoplast, Fox Shocks, Fly Racing, HMK, Klotz, Straightline Performance, XLT Engineering, EVS, 139 Design and Weiss Equipment.

Cutting into the brand new tunnel? I can't watch! A Soo sled is a different animal and the list of mods needed to endure (and win) 500 laps on an ice oval is long. And yes, some require a steady hand with a cutting wheel.

Returning Team Members:
Don LaBean – Owner
Rick Tiede – Sponsorship Coordinator
Larry Tiede- Crew

Rich Felegy- Crew
Bill Foner- Crew

Dana Hribek- Crew
Shawn Rosenbrock- Crew

Colby Campbell- Crew
Brad Weaver- Crew

Mike Floyd- Crew

2012 SHOF Inductees

Joey Hallstrom

Joey Hallstrom
DATE OF INDUCTION: February 18, 2012
CAREER SPAN: 1979 – Present

Combining a deep passion for the sport with the competitive heart of a racer, Joey Hallstrom built the Team Arctic Racing Program into a winning powerhouse; helped launch the iconic Jeep 500 cross-country race; and strongly influenced several pioneering Arctic Cat snowmobiles. The many accomplishments during his 25-plus-year career at Arctic Cat reflect his strong vision, persuasiveness and force of will.

An independent Arctic Cat terrain racer beginning in the late 1978, Hallstrom’s career with a reborn-Arctic Cat began first as a racer then as Race Manager in 1987. Recognizing the talent of racers and technicians and leveraging both in equal measure, Hallstrom built Team Arctic into a dominant force whose success defined the 1990s. Recognizing Arctic Cat’s need for race-focused snowmobiles, Hallstrom strongly influenced the creation of the iconic 1990 EXT Special and the legendary ZRs. He was intent to grow the sport of racing, spearheading the “boy racer” Jag Special in 1990 and launching a unique program that offered beginners the opportunity to freely compete on such machines in snocross. He dedicated similar support to Formula III and Mod class oval racing by commissioning small production runs of such chassis by T/S Racing beginning in 1989.

Hallstrom’s vision to grow the sport included helping launch the Jeep 500 cross-country snowmobile race in 1987 and initiated the first NHRA snowmobile asphalt drag exhibition in 1994. He played key roles at magazine photo shoots and helped produce two books on Arctic Cat’s history. Hallstrom transitioned to Arctic Cat Product Manager in 1999, where he continues to influence the success of Arctic Cat snowmobiles now and in the future.

Toni Haikonen

Toni Haikonen
DATE OF INDUCTION: February 18, 2012
CAREER SPAN: 1983 – 2002
BRANDS REPRESENTED: Ski-Doo, Polaris, Lynx, Arctic Cat

An international racing legend whose raw talent intersected with the rebirth of North American snocross, Toni Haikonen catapult himself and the sport into new heights beginning in the mid-1990s. Haikonen’s fluid style and blazing speed would produce historic wins at nearly every venue, while his easy-to-like personality made him fan favorite throughout the world.

With a snocross career that began at age 12, Haikonen scored a Finnish National Championship, Scandinavian Championship and hundreds of victories prior to his introduction to North American snocross in 1993. His success in the U.S. earned him a sponsored ride with Ski-Doo/FAST beginning in 1994. In a history-making night at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minn., in 1995, Haikonen began double-jumping the course’s massive jumps to score a monumental victory that simultaneously launched the high-flying era of snocross.

In 1998 Haikonen notched another historic first by winning the inaugural ESPN Winter X Games snocross in Crested Butte, Colo., setting the stage for another period of snocross popularity. During his eight years of racing in North America, Haikonen scored dozens of National snocross wins, European Snocross Championships, MRP Championships and was a top finisher in select cross-country events. His last victory came in 2000, and he retired from the sport after the 2002 season.

Marcel Fontaine

Marcel Fontaine
DATE OF INDUCTION: February 18, 2012
CAREER SPAN: 1970 – Present

From racer to mechanic to race director, Marcel Fontaine lived, loved and dedicated himself to the sport of snowmobile racing for more than four decades. Most often cited for his undying passion for oval racing in Quebec, Fontaine masterfully guided Eastern Canadian oval racing for 30 years. His influence extended to nearly all forms of competition as he added snocross, drags, hillcross and watercross to his palette of offerings, while simultaneously building both relationships and coalitions that have preserved and expanded snowmobile racing during good times and bad.

An oval racer from 1970-1976, Fontaine would transition to mechanic, then to race director for CCMQ beginning in 1983. It was as a race director and sanctioning body that Fontaine would fulfill his greatest achievements and lasting contributions. He founded SCM and Eastern Pro Tour, worked with ISR and Quebec race rules committees and raised the professionalism of snowmobile competition throughout North America. In particular, Fontaine’s efforts to improve safety and fairness made him a standout race director who was recognized by racers, peers and industry as one of the great leaders of the sport.

Fontaine’s honest embrace of the snowmobile racing world as his “family” fostered a deeply loyal base of competitors and officials, and his unyielding professionalism leaves a legacy of success that will be felt for future generations of competitors.

Larry Bosacki

Larry Bosacki
DATE OF INDUCTION: February xx, 2012
CAREER SPAN: 1967 – Present

By embracing and nurturing the sport of snowmobiling during its formative years, civic-minded people like Larry Bosacki transformed winter recreation and the Wisconsin north woods. The third-generation owner of Bosacki’s Boathouse eatery on Minocqua Lake in the town of Minocqua, Larry understood that the fledgling sport was about people, experiences and hospitality. For more than three decades Larry gave from his business and himself to foster those key elements.

By partnering with snowmobile clubs, grooming local spur trails at his own expense and promoting snowmobile tourism at every turn, Bosacki helped grow the winter economies of an entire region. To expand his local business and the opportunity to ride, he operated a Ski-Daddler dealership from his boathouse in the late 1960s. Bosacki also leveraged his many statewide political relationships to help forge important trail accesses and routes that would come to define the north woods snowmobile experience. Two breakthrough efforts included saving railroad trestle bridges for snowmobile trail use, as well as spearheading the first dedicated snowmobile trail crossing of an active railroad track.

His love of snowmobile competition took many forms, including supporting and working on several race teams, and helping launch (and fund) the Snowmobile Hall of Fame. Bosacki’s accomplishments over three decades are testament to the power of people who act locally.

Christian Brothers Racing Dealt Three Podiums At Blackjack Nats

Garth Kaufman

Fertile, Minn. (December 12, 2011) – The Christian Brothers Racing team traveled to Bessemer, Michigan, for Round 2 of 8 on the ISOC National snocross series. The two-day Blackjack National was held at Blackjack Resort, a ski hill just outside the town of Bessemer, and featured a challenging, V-shaped track cut into the side of resort’s ski hill. Coming into the event the Christian Brothers team was looking to build on momentum it had gained at the opening race two weeks earlier and during testing with its new Arctic Cat Sno Pro 600 snowmobiles leading up to the Blackjack National.

During the week leading up to the race the team suffered a setback when Pro rider Logan Christian made the decision to sit out the event to let his knee heal up. Christian underwent off-season surgery to repair a knee injury sustained while racing motocross. That left Garth Kaufman and Cory Davis to carry the flag for the team in the Pro Open class while D.J. Ekre joined the team to race Pro AM Vet 30+ and Evan Christian rode in Champ 120 and Transition 8-12 Limited.

Kaufman and Davis struggled in Saturday’s Pro Open racing and both riders landed in the LCQ. Only Kaufman transferred and he posted a 12th place finish in the final. On Sunday Davis and Kaufman both landed in the LCQ again. Kaufman won it and Davis finished 5th which got them both a back row starting position for the final. Pro Open riders put in 14-laps on the brutally rough track which tested the fitness of the riders and setup of their Arctic Cat machines. When the checkered flag flew Kaufman was up with the frontrunners in 7th place and Davis crossed the line further back in 12th place.

“We were hoping for better results this weekend but the good thing is we’re making progress,” said Kaufman. “We were able to do a bunch of testing and got a lot figured out on the new Arctic Cat Sno Pro 600 race sleds. It’s still early in the season and we have some ground to make up but with 12 races to go we have a lot of time to do it.”

D.J. Ekre

Long-time CBR rider D.J. Ekre raced the Pro AM Plus 30 class at the Blackjack National for team. Ekre was part of the first-ever National level snocross squad for Christian Brothers Racing during the 2002-2003 season Normally a cross-country specialist, Ekre hasn’t raced snocross since 2007 but proved his versatility as a terrain racer when he finished third in the dog-eat-dog Plus 30 race.

“It’s been a while since I raced snocross,” said Ekre. “But it’s like riding a bike – you never forget how to do it. It’s been a while since I’ve stood on the podium at a snocross National, that’s for sure!”

Evan Christian backed up Ekre and stood on the podium in both the Transition Limited 8-12 class, where he finished second, and in the super-competitive Champ 120 class where he took home third place.

“It was a positive weekend for the team,” said team co-owner Dwight Christian. “The team is definitely headed in the right direction. The new Arctic Cat race sled is going to be very good and it won’t take much before it’s there. Garth and Cory looked very good and it was fun to watch D.J. battle again. As long as we keep working hard the results will come.”

Next up for Christian Brothers Racing is the USCC Grafton 100 in Grafton, North Dakota, December 31. For more information visit www.isocracing.com. For more information on Christian Brothers Racing visit www.christianbrosracing.com.

ECS 2011-2012 Competition Preview

Jesse James Bonaduce leads the field. Photo: Mike Key/Extreme Exposures

CHESHIRE, Conn. (Dec. 2, 2011) – For the first time in several years, there is no true favorite on the northeastern regional snocross scene as a new season draws near.

When it was announced last summer that 2011 ECS Pro champion Mathieu Morin had signed with BOSS Racing for an assault on the ISOC national title, racers across New York and New England let out a sigh of relief, just as they did one year earlier when 2010 champion Bobby LePage headed back west to ride for Levi LaVallee.

Morin’s move back to the national stage swings the door wide open for a new star atop the podium, with a fine mix of talented veterans and fresh faces ready to step into the spotlight.

Last season, Morin claimed 13 of 17 Pro finals en route to the class titles. This season, many feel former champion and longtime veteran Danny Poirier could regain his spot on top of the podium. With his years of experience, finely-honed skills and race-proven sleds (Polaris), the famed “Canadian Blast” may set the gold standard in performance this winter.

Another snocross veteran with years of top-level experience is Minnesota native Matt Piche. Piche is known affectionately as “The Bull Rider” for his skills muscling a 400-pound sled around the track. Piche, along with Christian Salemark of Sweden, will pilot the all-new Arctic Cat sleds for Green Mountain Racing in 2011-12, giving the Cat faithful here in the northeast an exciting team to follow. Piche and Salemark both have national experience and ample skills to reach the podium.

Another Cat rider fans should watch is sophomore campaigner Corin Todd, of Otego, New York. Todd won a Pro Stock final during his rookie season and finished third in points. Now part of Vermont-based Camara Racing for 2011-12, Todd has his sights set squarely on consistent finishes that could propel him on to the 2012 Pro crown. Once he, Piche and Salemark get their new Cats dialed in, battles up front between manufacturers should get pretty competitive.

Lucas Brunelle and Jacob Muller. Photo: Mike Key/Extreme Exposures

A pair of top-notch organizations are leading the Ski-doo contingent this season. Ingles Performance, of Phoenix, N.Y., will feature regional veterans Michael George and Chris Ackerman as they compete for Rookie of the Year honors in the Pro division. Also piloting the new MX Zx 600 RS this winter will be Quebec veteran Renaud Alexandre, riding for Damexco Racing. Unfortunately, Alexandre suffered a dislocated hip in Duluth and will be out until the injury is healed. The entire staff at ECS wishes him a speedy recovery.

A familiar name is headed east to compete this season. His older brother is a former national champion, and he’s got great skills of his own. Dylan Martin will lead Team Southside this season on the newly-refined 600 IQ race sled, and while he may not have rookie status, Martin is a sure bet to contend for wins in ECS competition.

Martin will be joined at Team Southside by Jacob Muller, the Minnesota native that won the Semi-Pro (now called Pro Lite) championship last winter. It’s a potent combination for the North Adams, Mass.-based team.

With Muller, Ackerman and George all advancing to Pro, the door is also wide open for a new star atop that newly-named Pro Lite Class. Many feel if veteran racer and Quebec native Lucas Brunelle stays consistent, he may be the favorite to claim the titles in both Saturday and Sunday action (Pro Lite riders run qualifying rounds and Finals each day).

Some the other challengers preparing for battle include Jesse James Bonaduce, the gifted New Jersey native back for more in 2011-12. Bonaduce is super-fast and silky-smooth, and could easily be a championship contender. Another veteran to watch is New Yorker Adam Sedlmeier, who has the experience and talent to succeed. Many will put their money on him, and he is without argument a safe bet to land on the podium.

Two young graduates of the Sport division are making the move to Pro Lite this winter. Vermont native Leo Patenaude and Ed Bandel both bring solid skills to the table, and both could turn heads in this division. Their presence will certainly elevate the level of competition.

One rider not to e overlooked is Albany, NY, rider Chris Coleman. This urban dweller looks more and more like a skilled veteran with each outing, having matured a great deal last season. Expect Coleman to challenge the leaders on occasion this coming winter.

ECS is blessed to have great talent throughout all divisions for 2011-12, including the Sport, Junior and Women’s divisions. And the surprising competition within the Trail classes is fun to watch, as those who want to give snocross a try hit the track.

It all kicks off when ECS launches its second season Dec. 10-11 at the beautiful Burke Mountain Ski Resort in East Burke, Vermont.

East Coast Snocross, presented by Woody’s Traction and AMSOIL, is the sanctioning body for snowmobile racing in the northeastern United States. ECS maintains a regional circuit intended to keep grass-roots snocross racing healthy in this part of the snowbelt, while also cultivating new talent for tomorrow’s factory-backed Pro teams.

For more information, please go to www.eastcoastsnocross.com.

Christian Brothers Racing Kicks Off Season At Duluth National

Photo: Wayne Davis

Fertile, Minn. (November 28, 2011) – Excitement was high for the Christian Brothers Racing team as it headed into the first snocross race on the schedule in Duluth, Minnesota, this past November 25-27. The Duluth National Snocross takes place Thanksgiving weekend and is traditionally the race that kicks off the racing season. It is also one of the largest and most prestigious races on the snowmobile calendar.

CBR riders Logan Christian, Cory Davis, Garth Kaufman entered the event with little test time on their new Arctic Cat Sno Pro 600 snowmobiles. A vendor parts supply problem meant they weren’t able to ride their new snowmobiles until the Wednesday before the event, leaving little time to test and tune the machines leading into Friday’s opening ceremonies and the AMSOIL Dominator event.

Friday night featured a 16-rider bracketed racing format where two riders faced off in a two-lap sprint-type race. The loser was eliminated, the winner moved on. The winner received $10,000. In the first round Christian faced ISOC points champion and X Games gold medal winner Tucker Hibbert. Christian, who is coming off knee surgery, was behind Hibbert off the start and gave an all-out effort to catch him but came off his sled and was eliminated. Kaufman and Davis were matched against each other in the first round with Davis getting the best of Kaufman. In the next round Davis made a brilliant pass in the uphill mogul section to eliminate Tim Tremblay. Davis met eventual winner Ross Martin in the semi-final where Martin got the holeshot. Davis couldn’t catch him and was finally eliminated.

“This is my first race back after sitting out snocross racing last season with an injury,” Davis said. “Making it this far in my first night back racing? I’d say that’s a pretty good start to the season!”

The team entered Saturday’s Pro racing with a little more seat time after Friday’s Dominator event but they were still at a disadvantage to the other brands who had weeks more test time. A tough day of heat racing put all three CBR riders in the LCQ and only Davis was able to transfer to the final where he finished 12th.

Photo: Wayne Davis

“This was my first real time on the new sled and the first time we had the full mod package together to ride,” said Christian. “My knee was sore, but I felt good. It’s a little frustrating because we were definitely at a disadvantage having so little test time compared to our competition. Our crew did a great job putting the sleds together and they should get a ton of credit.”

In Sunday afternoon’s racing, Kaufman went 5-3 in heats and Davis went 2-4, good enough to get them in final. Christian went 2-6 which put him in the LCQ where he finished 9th and failed to transfer. The 20-lap final took place Sunday afternoon in front of a packed crowd. Davis and Kaufman navigated a brutally-rough course and managed to finish 10th and 11th respectively.

“This definitely wasn’t how we envisioned the weekend playing out,” said team co-owner Dwight Christian. “But it’s a long season and everyone came out of the event healthy. We have our work cut out for us but we will get to the front of the pack. We have too much talent not to.”

After two races Davis sits in 10th place in the Pro Open points standings. Kaufman sits in 17th and Christian is in 20th.

Photo: Wayne Davis

CBR rider Evan Christian had a good showing in the Transition Limited 8-12 class, he rode to a second place finish and a spot on the podium. He also landed a podium spot in Champ 120 where he finished third.

“Evan is the future of our team,” said Dwight Christian. “He’s picking up right where he left off last season standing on the podium at the end of the day.”

Next up for Christian Brothers Racing is the ISOC Blackjack National in Ironwood, Michigan, December 9-11. For more information visit www.isocracing.com. For more information on Christian Brothers Racing visit www.christianbrosracing.com.

Quadna Winter Blast

Click to make big

Tom Lawrence Named Ski-Doo Race Coordinator

Ski-Doo Race Coordinator Tom Lawrence (L) talks shop with Steve Thorson. Photo: Gary Walton/Action Graphics

It gives me great pleasure to announce the appointment of Tom Lawrence to the position of Ski-Doo® Race Coordinator.

In his new role, Tom will help develop and communicate the annual plan for Ski-Doo® racing. He will be responsible to coordinate all aspects of the relationships with the racing teams, individual racers, sponsors, promoters, associations and sanctioning bodies. He will work closely with the marketing, technical and product development departments within BRP to deliver top performance results and help promote and benefit the brand. He will be based in the Wausau, WI office. Tom will report to Marcel Imbeault and this appointment will take effect on December 5, 2011.

Tom has worked for BRP for 12 years—8 of those years as Race Coordinator and the last 4 years as an After-Sales Service Representative. With Tom’s background and experience, he has already established a solid reputation and close relationships within the racing community.

Please join me in congratulating Tom and wishing him great success in his new position.

Denis Morin
VP Product Development, Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo

Duluth, 20 Years Ago…

Twenty years ago Snow Week was on hand to document the first Duluth National Snocross and we revisit the event through the pages of the December 14, 1992 edition. This is from a collection of Snow Week magazines I acquired recently. I used to work for Snow Week and always thought it was a great publication that had a valuable place in the world of snowmobile racing. It’s demise in 2007 (or 2008? not sure) was one of the catalysts for me to start this Web site. An interesting thing to note is while 2011 marks the 20th anniversary of the Duluth National Snocross, 1992-93 season marked the 20th anniversary of Snow Week. Hmmm…

Holeshots featured a blurb about Paul Groth's Budweiser Sno-King. Powered by four turbocharged Yamaha V-Max 4 snowmobile engines Groth said the 16-cylinder configuration would make 1,000-horsepower and would be good enough for 200mph.

Another Holeshot blurb noted that riders were happy to hear they would be allowed to use carbide runners and carbide-tipped studs in the upcoming International 500. The race was expected to have 300 entries and had a 100 at the time the issue went to print.

The second page had more of Hibbert as well as Steve Hanson, Brian Sturgeon and Jason Jones. Team Arctic rode ZR580s in the Open class. The ZRs came off the assembly line three days before the race and they were as big a news item as the race itself.

What a great photo of Hibbert working on his sled as Doug Lamm looks on. On his way to two wins that weekend Hibbert was quoted in the story saying he worked on clutching for the holeshot, added stiffer front shock springs and took out some picks and added cleats(!). These days Pro snocross rider have crews who do all this wrenching stuff for them.

A nice shot of some tangled sleds off the start, a ZR and an XCR. In the background the familiar Spirit Mountain chair lift. No tuff blocks, just good old-fashioned haybales.

It was all Polaris and Arctic Cat in the printed results. Hibbert won Pro Open and Pro Lite. Hmmm...

OK, so what else was in that issue? How about this way cool ad for the Thief River 200 sponsored by Pabst (with a $24K payout!).

It looks like Snow Week went to the ISR meeting that year too. Lots of photos of people handing over giant checks. I've been to ISR meetings and none of them were nearly as exciting as this one appears to have been. I never got a giant check either.

Snow Week handed out its 1992 Racer of the Year award at the ISR meeting. Ice racer Gary Vessair was the lucky recipient.

An ad for the International 500 features Jack Struthers and promises a $100K payout (based on 300 race entries). It also looks like the ad features a handy course map for pre-running.

1992-93 was set to have some great racing go down and it would begin the epic battles between Arctic Cat's ZR and Polaris' XCR that would last for nearly a decade. Looking at this schedule it looks like you could go racing pretty much all winter long across multiple racing genres with either one of those sleds.

The back of the paper always had classified ads. Remember, there was no eBay or craigslist back then. Need a used Wahl chassis twin tracker?

Or how about a Pro-5-built Polaris Formula III sled and a van to race it out of?

Looking back on this race 20 years on its amazing how much has changed and yet, at the same time, how little has changed. Familiar names, familiar scenarios, the same drama and anticipation and, of course, the same event.

Project Flatland Freeride: Larson Racing Equipped

Unless you race USCC cross-country you may never have heard of Larson Racing Products. They specialize in high quality billet aluminum parts for the Arctic Cat Sno Pro 500 and Sno Pro 600. Our sled already had a Larson Racing axle kit in it, but we wanted Larson Racing’s trick bent brake lever with the parking brake lockout too. We called Dean Larson to see what he thought of being a part of Project Flatland Freeride and he was more than happy to hook us up. Some sledRacer.com readers may remember Dean from our feature on his daughter Sara’s 120 mod. Not only did Dean hook us up with the brake lever, he replaced our bent axle and threw in some aluminum shock spring collars. You can contact Larson Racing at 218-779-1991.

Here's what showed up at our shop door: one brake lever, one replacement axle and some shock spring collars. We'll only need them for the center shock, but that's a whole 'nother installment.

Here's what we discovered when we dug into the skid on our SP500: bent rail, bent axle, mild carnage.

Our pretzeled axle and the replacement. Larson Racing machines all its pars from billet aluminum. Nice stuff. The full kit comes with the axle, outer wheels, spacers and hardware.

Here's the complete axle kit from Larson Racing. For some reason whoever installed the axle kit in our sled did not use the aluminum track adjuster bushing Larson Racing supplies, they used the stock plastic ones. The axle kits provides extra support for the track as it passes over the rear axle.

There are a couple different rear axle kits on the market but we knew ours was a Larson Racing unit because the outer spacers were tapered. The other guys use straight ones. Remember, the Larson Racing axles have been tested and proven in cross-country by top Pros like I-500 winner Brian Dick. Troy DeWalt had one in his sled when he won the Soo in 2010 too.

Bent brake levers have been around since Jesus raced, but Jesus had to give up the parking brake feature seen here on the stock lever when he used one.

Installing the lever is super-simple, all you need is a phillips screwdriver and a pliers (or the correct size wrench).

Of course, Larson Racing was the first company to produce a bent lever with the parking brake feature. They started making these as a result of the USCC changing re-fueling rules to state that you could leave your sled running but the parking brake had to be applied while your sled was being re-fueled.

The bent lever makes it easier to grab the brake when you're hanging it all out on those flat-out river runs.

As you can see it follows the curve of the stock handlebars really well. We might put a little black hockey tape on ours just for some extra grippiness.

For more info and prices on Larson Racing Products click here.

Check out Stage 1 of the build where we got more more power from Bikeman Performance here.

Project Flatland Freerider Stage 1: More Power

Here's our sled, a 2011 Arctic Cat Sno Pro 500 with 1058 miles on it. Still caked with dust from Haydays!

You can’t have a compound and a .com and not have a project sled, so sledRacer.com has decided to take a really cool sled and make it cooler. We’re huge fans of the Arctic Cat Sno Pro 500. It’s cheap to buy, cheap to ride, cheap to race and if you’ve never ridden one you really need to because it’s one of the funnest sleds you’ll ever get on. In fact, ace Team Arctic cross-country rider D.J. Ekre raced one a couple times and said it was the funnest sled he’d ever ridden. So, you guessed it, we’re gonna trick out a Sno Pro 500 for the guy who likes to bang ditches, hit jumps, freeriding at the sledRacer.com compound and maybe slap some duct tape numbers on it and enter a USCC cross-country race once in a while. We’re calling it the Flatland Freerider.

For the first installment of the build we dumped the sled off a Bikeman Performance. Bikeman does a really sweet pipe mod and we wanted it. Follow along as we go through Stage 1 of the Flatland Freedrider build.

We dropped off the sled and a couple days later Erich Long from Bikeman Performance called and said the sled was strapped to the dyno, ready to go. We logged off Craigslist and headed up to the shop.

Joey Strub is Bikeman's dyno operator. Some of you may remember him as a world champion watercross racer. Strub also has a BA in engineering from the University of Minnesota and an AAS in Automotive Technology. He used to work for one of the Big 3 in Detroit but couldn't handle the corporate BS. He's worked at Bikeman since day 1.

Strub had a DynoJet Power Commander hooked up to the sled when we arrived.

Strub used the Power Commander to help the little 500 engine down low. When it's coupled to the dyno it sees load in places it doesn't normally, so the Power Commander helps the computer out a little, pouring a little more fuel in down low to get 'er spinning.

Strub made about a half dozen pulls to establish a baseline. Bikeman uses a SuperFlo dyno. Temp was about 45-degrees and it was a nice clear, dry day which is what you want.

Bone stock it made 90-horsepower and 61lb-ft of torque.

With our baseline set, the mods began. The first thing Strub stuck on the sled was Bikeman's Powder Lite muffler. The kids call them Braaap cans.

Next came the pipe. Bikeman has developed a unique pipe mod using the stock pipe. Long says its an incremental mod, so on, say, an 800cc engine you can expect 6-8 horsepower. On our 500 he said we can expect 2-3 horsepower.

We handed the pipe off to one of the welders in the shop to perform the mod. While waiting in the office we saw this on the whiteboard dyno schedule. Maybe we'll go for the turbo next!

Look behind the steering post and you can see where Bikeman cut the pipe apart to perform their mod.

The modded pipe is the solid line, the dotted line is the old pipe. You can see the modded pipe made more power and shifted the entire horsepower curve. Strub pointed to that and said when the line shifts over like that it means you'll have a snappier sled. Notice the new pipe makes more power in mid-range and holds peak power longer than the old pipe too. Sweet.

Here's another look with the stock baseline and the best run with the modded pipe. Notice how the black line climbs higher and faster and flattens out. Strub said one of the OEMs liked their pipe design so much they copied it. That pretty much says it all if you ask us.

Long watches as Strub makes another dyno run with the Powder Lite silencer and the modded pipe. Strub admitted they try to simply maintain power with the Powder Lite can, it's not a power adder. The main benefit is it's way lighter (6-8lbs depending on model) and sounds cool. It's actually louder on the stock pipe because it's designed to work with the modded pipe. The modded pipe is quieter and there wasn't much noise difference between the stock can and Powder Lite silencer with the modded pipe.

Strub wanted to try to get a little more power out of the sled so he decided to install a 2-degree advance timing key.

The money run with the full setup made 92.4-horsepower and 63.5lb-fit of torque.

Here it is after it was all said and done. Stock can, stock timing key, modded pipe. The stock pipe insulator is crimped on so it's not something that is designed to be removed and put back on, but if a guy really wanted to he could get it back on and the whole deal would look just like it came from the factory. No one would suspect this sled had almost three more horsepower than a stock SP500.

This is the dyno sheet we'll ride: 91.9-horsepower and 63.5lb-ft of torque. We plan on bringing it back to Bikeman because Long wants to throw a little more weight in the clutch so the sled uses the mods better.

Here are all the runs laid over each other. The timing key gave it a little edge, but not really enough to justify having to run premium fuel so we decided to take it out. The big thing was the pipe - it really woke the sled up.

Here's a better look at all the different stages. That black line looks good! We may go back and try the timing key later on and see if it makes a difference in ride quality.

Bikeman wouldn't let us leave with a rusty old pipe, so they ground down all the welds and had the whole works coated for us. This thing pegs the bling meter now.

What will it cost me?

Pipe mod: $225

Powder Lite Muffler: $229.95

2.5-degree timing key: $19.95