Morgan wins Nome-Golovin race
On Saturday, March 20, weather finally allowed the Nome-Golovin snowmachine race to be held. The race, scheduled for the previous weekend, had to be postponed twice because of very bad weather conditions. Last Saturday, the makeup race day, it was clear, not too cold, and with a trail that was pretty good. Last year the race did not run because of problems with the weather.
Nome’s Mike Morgan outran them all to win. In 2019, after winning the Iron Dog with teammate Chris Olds, he had a mechanical immediately before the start. He was able to fix it and start only slightly late but ended up scratching at Safety. But there was no such trouble this time. “Yeah, it went pretty good actually,” he said at the finish after removing his helmet and drinking deeply from a proffered bottle of water. He said Tre West was about to finish and that he’d been running well. It turned out West was slightly slower and Morgan was in fact the winner. “The trail was good, yeah,” he said. “There was lots of snow. It was pretty choppy because there’s been lots of storms up here for week after week. Visibility was good. We had an early side wind.”
Tre West was worried he was running out of gas but made it to the finish as second fastest. “I wasn’t getting the rpms but that’s just part of it,” he said in response to a question about how his Ski-Doo ran. “Rough course, wind wasn’t helping at all. My arms are dead. Visibility was really good. The wind did help in getting the snow dust out of the way.”
The winner in the women’s race was Ivory Okleasik, who immediately left the race for the Nome Rec Center where she played two basketball games. Her team finished second in the tournament held there.
The Nome-Golovin race is Alaska’s oldest snow machine race and is sponsored by the Bering Sea Lions Club. This year the ham radio network they’ve relied on in the past wasn’t in operation. But they made up for it with other types of communications. “We couldn’t do this race from our end without the support of the White Mountain and Golovin volunteers,” said Kevin Knowlton to the crowd gathered at the Board of Trade Saloon for the awards presentations. Communities were closed from the race but volunteers staked the trail, redoing Golovin sections three times. “Safety was the concern and there was open water out there last week. They had to re-route the trail,” said Knowlton.
The record for the course was set in 2000 by Calvin Schaeffer, then of Kotzebue. These days he is the DOT’s manager for the Seward Peninsula. Asked when the record would be broken he was ready to answer. “It’s just a matter of timing with good conditions and all the snow machines are better than they were 20 years ago,” he said. “It’s just Mother Nature being kind.” He believes faster snow machines will also help set a new record. “They’re making advances now. In the next five years we’re going to see another leap with these snowmobiles. Horsepower, chassis, designs. Just like sports cars. The muscle cars can go 0 to 60 but they can’t hold it like these new cars.” Does Calvin get a new sled every year? “I’m retired so I don’t buy one every year. About every three years.” Where is the sled that set the standard nobody can beat? “We got rid of it over time. Kept it for a while. We bought new ones every year when we did that. Kept it for one year longer than the other ones and then got rid of it.” Two of Schaeffer’s sons rode the race this year.
Not having the greatest luck was Bethany Horton, who rode a 550 fan machine. “I crashed right outside Safety,” she said. “I hit a pretty big snowdrift. On my left it was a double drift and soft snow and as soon as my track hit it just kind of cartwheeled and rolled three times. I hurt my shoulder and my leg pretty good but I got back on the machine, tried to start it, eventually got it started and I started catching up again and then I blew my motor. Next year I’ll be running fan class again but with a better machine.”
Quinn Schaeffer, a cousin of recordholder Calvin Schaeffer, won the fan class on a machine with a long history. It’s a Polaris Indy Super Sport 550 he’s had for nine years. “It’s raced the Nome-Golovin eight of those nine years and so far it’s undefeated,” he said. “I’ve won four times with it and Jason West won three times with it. Trish Parker raced it in the women’s race in Kotzebue and she won up there with it. It’s been a good machine. It’s got a couple more left in it. It’s a little tired but I’ll just keep patching it together.” Schaeffer described the day’s race as typical of Nome-Golovin. “The weather changes every day and we’ve had several blizzards in the past couple of weeks. So there was a lot of wind drifts and that’s what makes it fun and interesting.” He likes the fan class and is sorry this is the last year for it. No manufacturers are producing fan cooled snow machines anymore, thus the race committee decided to terminate the class. Instead, there will be a class based on horsepower. “I like the fan class because the machines are more evenly matched, they’re a little slower and a little safer, and to me after doing it for so many years it’s just fun.”
Stephen Quincy Williamson of Noorvik won the B Class and took home the Lindsey Reader Rookie of the Year award. He rode an Arctic Cat, a brand that was dominate a decade ago but now is not so common. Does he think they’ll make a comeback? “They need to get about 5 mph faster, that’s what they need to do,” said Williamson at the BOT awards ceremony. “They ain’t done. They’ll be back on top soon.” Williamson rode the snowmachine from Kotzebue to Nome with three others for the race.
Next on the racing calendar is the Archie Ferguson – Willie Goodwin Sr. Memorial Race in Kotzebue on April 3.
2021 Nome-Golovin results
Overall Winner: Mike Morgan
C class Open
Mike Morgan, 2:13:56; 2. Tre West 2:15:34; 3. Ethan Kelso, 2:21:34; 4. Jarvis Miller, 2:21:41; 5. Cody Sherman, 2:21:56; 6. Jacob Hannon 2:27:39; 7. Cody White, 2:33:59; 8. Mala Otton, 2:56:19; 9. Luke Graham, 2:59:40
B Class 0-600 cc
Steven Quincy Williamson, 2:22:50; 2. Chris Olds, 2:25:12; 3. Jesse Crumbley, 2:26:56; 4. Nolan Horner, 2:29:06; 5. John Bahnke III, 2:30:02; 6. Chris Collins, 2:30:13; 7. Gabe Schaeffer, 2:31:37; 8. Douglas Wickens, 2:32:49; 9. Jordan Miller, 2:32:49; 10. Nicholas Reader, 2:38:22; 11. Lonnie Gooden, 2:49:22; 12. Adrian E. Barr Sr., 2:49:32; 13. Colton West, 2:52:52.
A Class fan cooled
1. Quinn Schaeffer, 2:25:50; 2. Art Amaktoolik, 3:1:43
D class Women’s (Nome-Solomon-Nome)
1. Ivory Okleasik, 1:14:33; 2. Alice Amaktoolik, 1:18:02; 3. Colby Esmelka, 1:23:20; 4. Katie Hannon, 1:32:31; 5. Dawn Wehde, 1:37:31