Champion Works at His Family’s Northern Wisconsin Polaris Dealership
Just after 4 p.m. CST on Sunday, January 22, the T&N Racing Facebook page featured a historic status: “We WON the WC!!”
Nick Van Strydonk (T&N Racing) had just driven his lucky No. 13 Polaris race sled to victory in the Eagle River Snowmobile Derby World Championship, which he won by 0.025 of a second ahead of Matt Schultz, who led most of the race but was passed by Van Strydonk in the final turns of the last lap.
Dustin Wahl (Jimmy John’s/Wahl Bros./Polaris Racing) finished third on his Polaris-powered Wahl Bros. race sled, and his teammates Jordan Wahl and Brandon Johnson finished ninth and 10th, respectively. All three are from Greenbush, Minnesota.
Van Strydonk, who is from Tomahawk, Wisconsin, and has long dreamed of winning the Eagle River World Championship, took the lead by diving inside of Schultz entering turn three on the final lap of the 30-lap race. Van Strydonk ran that lap in 19.314 seconds, 0.319 second faster than Schultz.
Van Strydonk, 21, won the 49th running of the title race in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. He works at Erv’s Sales and Service, his family’s Polaris dealership in Tomahawk. The champion’s parents, Alan and Stephanie Van Strydonk, own the dealership and the race team.
Polaris racers were fast all weekend in World Championship qualifying and related events such as the Friday night Champ 440 final.
Also known as the Sweet 16, the race featured the 16 fastest racers from World Championship individual time trials.
Brandon Johnson won the Champ 440 title under the lights, finishing 2.3 seconds ahead of Van Strydonk. Johnson posted the race’s fastest lap at 71.856 mph, and the victory earned him an automatic entry in the World Championship, so he and his sled sat out the Saturday qualifying.
Van Strydonk, who topped the individual time trials with a qualifying lap in 17.873 seconds (74.526 mph), won his semi-final on Saturday to earn a spot in the World Championship, as did Dustin Wahl.
Sunday afternoon’s World Championship was a start-and-stop affair, with one mandatory red flag at lap 10 for an equipment and track check, and several additional stoppages after crashes.
Van Strydonk ran in second place for much of the first half of the race, then fell back to around fourth until the final 10 laps.
With three laps to go, Van Strydonk regained second place and was gaining rapidly on leader Matt Schultz, who was on a Ski-doo.
Van Strydonk was right on the leader’s snow flap for the final two laps, and the eventual champion dove low in turn three on the final lap for the decisive pass. Van Strydonk won the drag race down the home stretch to win the title by the length of a ski.
In other racing at Eagle River during World Championship weekend, Polaris snocross racer Kody Kamm (Hentges Racing) continued his incredible string of success in the 2011-2012 season.
Kamm has won four of six Pro Lite finals on the ISOC circuit this winter, and he won the title at Eagle River. In the Pro Open snocross final, Ross Martin (Judnick Motorsports) finished second at Eagle River. Martin is the current Pro points leader on the ISOC circuit.