For a second straight year, Polaris will sponsor a team of Iron Dog Ambassadors who will ride the route of the legendary Iron Dog snowmobile race across Alaska to promote the race and thank volunteers for their help with the event.
Four Iron Dog Ambassadors on new 2013 Polaris snowmobiles will depart from Big Lake, AK, on Feb. 17, 2012, with the Trail Class teams. The Ambassadors will run throughout Alaska to Nome, the mid-point of the grueling 2,000-mile cross-country race. As they did during the 2011 race, the Ambassadors will stop in towns and villages along the route to thank volunteers and raise awareness of the 28th running of the race.
The race takes two-rider teams deep into remote areas of Alaska across punishing terrain. Polaris teams have won 13 of 27 Iron Dog races, including the past three.
The Polaris-backed Iron Dog Ambassadors for 2012 will be:
Mike Bedard, Polaris Snowmobile Engineering Manager, Trail Performance and Race. This former racer from Roseau, MN, was a 2011 Ambassador as well.
Lt. Col. Joseph Lawendowski of the Alaska National Guard, the race's primary sponsor. Lawendowski was also a 2011 Ambassador.
Evan Booth, who won the Iron Dog in 1992 and 1994 aboard Polaris Indy snowmobiles.
Dan Zipay, a five-time winner of the Iron Dog-all on Polaris Indy models-who is a member of the Iron Dog Hall of Fame.
Booth and Zipay won the race as teammates in 1992 and 1994 and Zipay won it with John Faeo as his teammate in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
"It was an honor to take part in the race last winter and we look forward to spreading goodwill and appreciation to volunteers as Iron Dog Ambassadors in 2012," Bedard said. "The race runs through some extremely remote areas and the residents of those towns and villages are vital to the racers' survival and the race's success."
The Ambassadors team will not officially compete for the Trail Class victory, but they will doubtless maintain a strong, competitive pace to reach Nome in time for the Feb. 22, 2012, halfway ceremonies. The race ends for Trail Class teams in Nome and only Pro Class teams race on to the finish line in Fairbanks.
But the 2011 Iron Dog Ambassador team left Nome headed for Fairbanks, hoping to spread goodwill along the second half of the race route. A fierce winter storm near the coast forced them back to Nome, which they reached only after a harrowing overnight battle through sea ice and ocean overflow.
Polaris racers Chris Olds and Tyler Huntington teamed up for victories in 2010 and 2011, and in 2009, the Polaris team of Todd Minnick and Nick Olstad won the race.
Race fans can learn more about the 2012 Iron Dog and follow the race via real time tracking at www.irondograce.org.