Bethel’s Team 19 begins Iron Dog

by Ben Matheson on February 14, 2014

IMG_3024Bethel’s Iron Dog team of Gux Laraux and Steve Boney will take on 37 other teams in this year’s Iron Dog snowmachine race.

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Laraux and Boney return for their 3rd running of the world’s toughest snowmachine race. They finished 15th last year and 14th their rookie year.

“Our goal is to win or get top ten. We’re going to keep going as long as we can afford it and as long as our sponsors will keep us going,” said Boney.

Steve Boney say the difference between 15th and the top of the race is avoiding mechanical problems and weather.

“We’ve had tough luck with some shock problems. And bad weather..we’ve gotten into some bad weather and it slows us down. It’s all about timing and equipment. If we can get those things in line, I think we can be competitive,” said Boney.

They will be racing the bigger 4-stroke Yahama Nytro 1049 sleds, like they did last year. Gux Laraux says it has a 144 inch track instead of the more common 121.

“It’s a little more stable on the Yamaha. It gives us a little more traction,” said Laraux.

It’s a bigger machine, but Laraux says it balances out with fuel consumption.

“It’s comparable to everyone else, once they fuel up we’re not carrying as much fuel as everyone, so we’re right in the ballpark. It’s not much heavier than the rest of the fleet,” said Laraux.

It’s been an unusual training season. Laraux and Boney shipped their practice sleds to Anchorage and spent weekends and holidays riding on the road system where there was snow. The race is planning on keeping the normal route from Big Lake to Nome and on to Fairbanks, despite reports of bad snow and ice conditions. Jim Wilkie is President of the Iron Dog board. He expects the weak snow cover to take its toll.

“We probably will see a fair amount of of attrition this year when low snow will take out motors because they overheat and there will be a lot of crash damage. Guys will be going a little too fast because the trail will be fast, they’ll be going into the trees and tearing up front ends. So we will will lose a few that way,” said Wilkie.

The race starts Sunday in Big Lake. You can follow Boney and Laraux at http://team19ak.com/.

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