Albert Lea area sled gurus compete at championships
Published 1:47 pm Saturday, May 11, 2013
Pole Shed Racing, a snowmobile race team out of the Albert Lea area, competed at the world championships in Eagle River, Wis., in January.
In one of the races, Dr. John Enger raced against T.J. Patrick, the dad of NASCAR driver, Danica Patrick.
“He just came up to me and introduced himself and told me he loved my sled,” Enger said.
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The sled, a 1979 Moto-Ski 340 IFS Sno Pro, displayed an Air Force emblem in support of Enger’s family who has served for 24 years.
The other Pole Shed Racing team member who raced at the world championships had a similar design on the hood of his sled, too. Jeweler Larry Fisher had emblems of all the branches of service on his hood including police and firefighters.
“We get a lot of compliments and a lot of people take pictures of the hoods,” Enger said. “Larry and I both know many people who have served our country and died while serving, so we honor our fallen friends.”
The two men, Enger, 54, and Fisher, 50, started racing with the Pole Shed Racing team that was created about five years ago. In some of the races Enger and Fisher run, they compete against racers in their 20s.
“It’s amazing to know at our age that we can be in good enough shape to compete against them,” Enger said.
In other races, Enger and Fisher are able to compete in the master’s division, a division for racers 50 years old and older.
“The sport has recognized that as people get older they still want to ride,” Enger said. “It’s not a slouch race, though. The 50-year-olds are still going fast.”
To get to the world championships, the team didn’t have to qualify at another race or earn points and advance. The way it’s set up, racers show up to the world championships and run in heats to see who will run in the finals.
Enger qualified in three finals and Fisher qualified in one.
Enger missed one of his races due to a knee injury after slipping on the ice, but he raced in the other two placing fifth and sixth. Fisher finished his race in 11th place.
“He was supposed to,” Enger said. “Everyone had a 440, and he had a 340. The bottom line is that he didn’t get passed and he didn’t get hurt.”
From the world championships, Enger raced in three other events this winter; one in Waconia where he placed first while racing with his leg in a cast from the injury at the world championships, one in Ogilvie where he took three second-place finishes and one in Grey Eagle where he placed third.
Consequently, Enger earned the Wahl Brothers Vintage Challenge Series trophy by having the most points in wins at his last three races.
“It was not my goal to win first place at Waconia, and it was not my goal to win the Wahl Brothers Vintage Challenge Racing Series. That was extra,” Enger said. “That just came by luck and hard work by my teammates.”
Enger said the whole team is what makes the wins possible.
“It takes a lot more than sheer determination and that’s for sure,” he said. “It takes leadership from great teammates. It takes loyalty of each of us to have each other’s backs at all times, as this is a very dangerous sport with high speeds and high impact pressures if you crash. It takes well trained and experienced mechanics who know all about racing and race sled engineering. And, it takes a lot of time and commitment to put these sleds together and keep them running.”
He said the team plans to run more sleds and at more races next season.
About the team
The team and the name, came from Mark Rauenhorst and Darren Sonnek who before starting the team were working on mountain and trail sleds for recreation out of Rauenhorst’s pole shed.
“It turned into, if we can ride these, I suppose we should race them, too,” Enger said.
The team has six racers and also has mechanics and guys who handle the sled preparation. Many of the members play multiple roles. The team races in summer asphalt drag races, winter ice oval races and ice drag races.
The other team members, which Enger called adrenaline junkies, include Dale Stensrud, Bradon Stensrud, Mike Rauenhorst, Dan Fink, Travis Rauenhorst, Dave Roisen, Orrin Mortensen, Dave Klatt and Dr. Steve Elwood.