Before last weekend's Grand Casino International Race of Champions snocross race at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds, Brian Taylor had only placed in one race in several World Snowmobile Association sanctioned races this season.
On Sunday, Taylor, a Hibbing resident, threw off that dubious distinction like his airborne 1999 Ski-Doo MXZ-X's track threw the dirt and snow.
He won the prestigious Pro 440 final and nabbed second place in the Pro 600 and Pro Open finals. Jim Beck Jr. of Elk River won the Pro 600 on a Polaris XC-Edge and rookie Jamie Cheney won the Pro Open on his Ski-Doo MXZ-X.
Taylor's wife, Patty, played a big role in his performances. He borrowed her 2000 MXZ-X's trailing arm after he bent his during the third and final round of Pro 440 qualifying.
Dusty McMillen (upper left) and Jesse Roessler bear down on Kris Roessler (449) and Jeremy Houle (244) as they fly over the finish line jump in the Semi-Pro 440 final during the Grand Casino International Race of Champions at the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds on Sunday. Jesse Roessler won the race. Story on Page 2S. (Dispatch Photo by Clint Wood)
Patty, who nabbed two seconds and a third in the Pro Women's qualifying rounds, crashed on the finish line jump in the class's final.
Taylor said that he was comfortable with Patty driving her sled with the bent trailing arm because "she's pretty easy going."
Taylor, who was the top qualifier in Pro 440 and Pro 600 and qualified No. 3 in Pro Open, was definitely not easy going in the eight-lap Pro 440 final. He started near the back of the pack among the six racers and powered his way to second place behind Drew Hough of Anoka on his Polaris on the second lap. Hough, who started on the inside, got the hlead after the first corner.
At the half way mark, Taylor flew past Hough on the third corner to take the lead. Hough was followed by Beck, Mike Lenarz on an Arctic Cat, Dave Dirkman on another Arctic Cat and Cheney.
On the next lap, Beck passed Hough on that same corner and finished second. At the checkered, Beck was followed by Lenarz, Hough, Dirkman and Cheney.
Taylor said the momentum he gained from jumping high over the backstretch jump propelled him past Hough in the corner. He passed him on the outside.
He added that the outside line was "the only place to go" during the course of the day.
Beck, who was the International Series of Champions Semi-Pro 440 and 600 class points champion in 1997, said he cleared two jumps in one pass where other racers didn't to gain second in the Pro 440 final.
"I was charging harder in the corners," he added.
In the Pro 600, Beck started second from the inside after qualifying fifth. Cheney, who started third from the inside, got the holeshot, but was passed on the front straightaway by Beck. After the first lap, Beck led, followed by Cheney, Taylor, Dirkman, Hough and Lenarz.
Between the second and third laps, Lenarz and Hough changed positions, but Hough flew over the finish line in fifth and stayed there until the checkered flag.
Beck noted that he and Taylor have raced together for a few years during their semi-pro years and they are "used to racing against each other."
Beck turned pro last year, finishing seventh in the Pro 400 and eighth in the Pro 600 and Pro Open class points of WSA's Midwest Regional series. Taylor, who won the Motorsports Racing Plus Inc., regional series Semi-Pro 440, 600 and Open points titles in 1997, raced in only two professional races last season. He did not finish in WSA's Worldwide Snocross events at Duluth and Hinckley on a Polaris.
Area racers included Scott Erlandson of Brainerd, Natalie Moritz of Emily, Kelly and Jeff Sinn of Brainerd, Randy Van Horn of Crosby, and April Moritz of Emily.
A. Moritz finished the highest. She nabbed second in the Pro Women's final after leading the race for a few laps. Erlandson finished fifth in the 440 Fan Sport, N. Moritz finished sixth in the Sport Women and Junior 14-16, K. Sinn finished fifth in the Sport Women, J. Sinn finished 10th in the Semi-Pro 440 and seventh in the Semi-Pro 600, Van Horn finished third in the Semi-Pro 440, 11th in the Semi-Pro Open and fourth in the Semi-Pro 600.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.