Elk River, Minnesota (February 23, 2016) – Months of preparation and planning by the ERX MotorPark and Red Bull staff came to fruition on Saturday at the inaugural Red Bull Snow Boundaries race at Carlson Moto’s home track. Over 12 million gallons of water were used to make enough snow for the 8-mile track, designed to push the limits of athletes and machines, and deliver a challenge and experience unlike any other snowmobile race. Despite the unseasonably warm weather, the course remained intact with the conditions only adding to the challenging track. The first of its kind event brought together both cross-country and snocross competitors as they raced all-out for more than one-hour on a course that combined high speeds, slushy ponds, big jumps and an unrelenting onslaught of whoops. Nearly 230 riders competed in two classes, giving the nearly 5,000 spectators in attendance a show they’ll never forget.
Andrew Carlson and Ryan Springer competed in the Open Racer class against more than 60 racers, including X-Games legend Levi Lavallee, and current United States X-Country (USXC) defending champion Zach Herfindahl. When the 312 sled of Herfindahl bolted out to an early lead, many in attendance believed he had it in the bag.
The timed nature of the race positioned athletes into flights of five sleds, selected via random draw prior to the race, and were released at 10-second intervals. Obviously early flights were advantageous and Carlson Moto rider Ryan Springer took advantage of his first flight draw by laying down some scorching fast opening laps before track conditions began to deteriorate. Teammate Andrew Carlson was not far behind. With a third flight start, Carlson made quick work of other riders and found himself on Springer’s tail by the mid-point of the first lap. Yet this was a timed race, and despite Herfindahl’s deep flight starting position, he rocketed out to an early lead with the fastest time after the opening lap, edging Springer by three seconds.
The long and punishing race soon sorted out the strong from the weak, as the top-ten running of drivers was a mixture of big names from both the snocross and cross-country ranks. By the halfway point of the race it became apparent one of four riders were poised to be crowned the first ever Red Bull Snow Boundaries champion. With each closing lap, the running order and time difference between Herfindahl, Carlson and Springer was volleyed back and forth. On their heels was a consistent and hard charging Levi LaVallee, who continued to close the gap and found himself in the mix in the closing laps. Battling fatigue and faced with limited visibility and the roughest track conditions any of the riders had ever experienced, Carlson, Herfindahl, Springer and LaVallee exchanged on-track spots several times throughout the race, treating the ERX fans to some spectacular racing.
When the ten-lap mark hit, one hour and nearly 20 minutes after the race commenced, Carlson crossed the line in third place (with a time of 1:13:39.25), behind winner Lavallee (1:13:14.49) and second place finisher Herfindahl (1:13:28:.43). Carlson finished just 24 seconds behind Lavallee and a mere 12 seconds behind Herfindahl. Springer continued at a torrid pace before he had mechanical issues blowing a belt in the closing stages.
In addition to a punishing ten-lap race, each athlete had to also completed a mandatory fuel stop and it was here where Carlson potentially lost his chances for a victory. “My arms were so pumped up at that point [when I came in for the fuel stop],” Carlson said. “I literally could not get my fuel cap off or my goggles on…it definitely cost me extra time.”
Despite the hiccup in fueling, Carlson was stoked on the podium finish. “This was the most insane race I’ve ever competed in,” Carlson said. “It was a blast to race against Levi and Zach and I’m pumped that I ended the day on the box.”
The next stop for Carlson Moto is on the AMSOIL Championship Snocross tour – February 26 and 27 at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. You can watch all the action as it unfolds online on Livestream. You can also follow Carlson Moto on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as on CarlsonMoto.com.