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Switch pays off for Carr, VanMeter

Posted: Monday, February 23, 2004

The Ski-Doo's did it.

Following Saturday's big win in the Tesoro Iron Dog 2000, it's a good bet more than four racers will be running Ski-Doo sleds next year.

That's because Kasilof's Dusty VanMeter and Kenai's Mark Carr rode a breakdown-free race aboard their Ski-Doos to victory despite being out-horsepowered by most of the race's other entrants.

On Sunday, VanMeter credited the duo's decision to run 600cc Ski-Doo sleds while the majority of the other racers chose 700cc Arctic Cat and Polaris machines as the key to winning this year's race.

"Man, these things are just awesome," VanMeter said.

He said the difference came in Nome. While most teams had to pull their machines apart for repairs, Carr and VanMeter were able to get by without any mechanical adjustments.

"The average person was spending five to fifty five minutes working on their sleds. We didn't even spend a minute working on ours."

Finishing 38 minutes behind Carr and VanMeter in 39:41 were Scott Davis of Soldotna and Todd Palin of Wasilla, who drove Polaris snowmachines.

Davis and Palin led in the race on the leg to Nome but fell behind after their machines had mechanical problems.

VanMeter said this year's race had a typical assortment of twists and turns along the way, including a tricky slough near Nenana.

"We ended up doing a 26 mile loop," he said.

That detour cost the team more than two hours. However, the decision to ride the Ski-Doo sleds paid off for Carr and VanMeter when it came to crossing rugged terrian.

"We were just flying over stuff that we normally slow down over," VanMeter said.

At one point, VanMeter said he feared Carr's confidence in the Ski-Doo sleds would get them in trouble. Moving as fast as they were over bumpy trails, VanMeter said he cautioned his partner to take things a little easier.

"(Mark) said, 'these things are tough, they'll take it,'" he said.

Carr was right, as VanMeter and Carr were able to hold off a late challenge from Davis and Palin to win the race.

VanMeter and Carr had both raced Arctic Cats in their five previous combined wins. But now that he's switched to Ski-Doo, VanMeter said he has no intention of switching back.

Asked if he'll be running Ski-Doo in next year's race, the two-time defending champion didn't hesitate.

"Oh yeah."

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