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    Polaris cross-country snowmobile racers started the 2014-15 USXC season off strong as Ryan Faust (Faust Racing) won the Pro Stock final and Justin Tate (2-Eight Motorsports) reached the podium twice in the Pro classes this past weekend. Polaris racers also earned podium spots with top-three finishes in Semi-Pro and Women’s classes near Gonvick, Minn.

    In the Pro Stock class final that Ryan Faust won, all seven Polaris racers in the final scored top-10 finishes. Justin Tate (2-Eight Motorsports) finished third in Pro Stock, Gabe Bunke (Bunke Racing) was fifth, Travis Faust (Faust Racing) was sixth, Bobby Menne (131 Racing) – who missed most of last season with an injury – was seventh, Spencer Kadlec (Bunke Racing) was ninth, and Mike Morgan (Bunke Racing) finished 10th. Morgan is racing selected USXC events before returning to race in Alaska, where he teamed with Chris Olds to finish third in last winter’s Iron Dog race.

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      Polaris Season of Champions

      Polaris snowmobile racers have wrapped up a very strong 2013-14 season with success across virtually every discipline. Below are highlights of the Polaris’ snowmobile racing season.

      Hillclimb

      Polaris racers rode their RMKs to dominating results in the RMSHA circuit. Polaris hillclimbers won 10 of the 12 Pro class season points titles, including all four Stock classes and all four Modified classes – where Polaris racers finished 1-2-3 in each class. At the season’s seven RMSHA events, Polaris racers won the Stock classes 27 of 28 times.

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        Gabe Bunke Soo I-500We tend to throw out terms like ‘dominate’ a little too freely when we talk about racing. However, you won’t find many people who’d argue that Polaris didn’t thoroughly dominate the field at the grueling Soo I-500 enduro race that took place this past Saturday, Feb. 2, 2013.

        The Gabe Bunke-led Bunke Racing 1 team won for the second year in a row and nine Polaris teams finished in the top 10. Polaris race teams finished first through seventh and took ninth and 10th places as well. Gabe Bunke teamed with Aaron Christensen and Spencer Kadlec for the victory, the team’s second straight Soo win and the fourth of Bunke’s career.

        Bunke, a Polaris cross-country racing specialist, was also a successful team owner in the 2013 Soo race, which was shortened to 455 miles from the usual 500-mile distance on the 1-mile Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. ice oval. The Bunke Racing 2 team finished second with Ryan Faust and Travis Faust sharing driving duties. Finishing third was 131 Racing, with Bobby Menne (Bunke’s cross-country racing teammate), Mike Babcock and Ivan Hanson piloting a Polaris sled.

        Polaris and Bunke Racing

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          Polaris Race TeamTom Rager Sr. is a snowmobile racing legend and is stepping down from his post as Polaris Racing Manager. He chatted with the ISOC about his amazing career and what lies ahead for the sport.

          ISOC: Take us back a bit, Tom, prior to starting with Polaris. What were some of your first experiences with snowmobiles?

          Tom Rager Sr.: I saw and road my first snowmobile in 1967 in north east Nebraska. A good friend of mine had two old machines that we would race around a farm pond until they would break and then we would work on them for hours just to get them back out on the snow to race again. The first machine that I bought was a 1972 Suzuki that I bought to ride and race without any success. In 1974 I bought a 1973 Rupp 440 magnum that was a Factory mod at that point I started having a little success and thought this was pretty cool so in the fall of 1975 I bought a new 440 Merc Sno Twister and raced that in Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota. In the fall of 1978 I bought a new 1979 440 Ski doo Super Stocker and raced that for two years with some success.

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            Tom Rager Sr. - Polaris Racing ManagerThe Polaris snowmobile racing paddock is going to look a lot different after this season as Polaris Racing Manager Tom Rager Sr. is preparing to retire at season’s end.

            Rager, who joined Polaris in August 2000 and has directed the racing program ever since, will be succeeded by his son, Tom Rager, Jr., who currently serves as Polaris Race Coordinator.

            “It’s been a great career,” says the elder Rager. “I’ve watched my son grow and develop and he’s ready to take this thing on. He has worked hard.”

            Rager Sr. joined Polaris after spending over 15 years with the Ski-Doo snowmobile racing program, including the final seven years as race manager.

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