Quite a history associated with this number……many people think of it as “lucky seven”, there seems to be some truth to that today. We are one week out and I am on my final countdown to race morning. I will devote today’s story to what makes Team #7 and the number seven so good for Iron Dog!!!!

Team 7, Aaron Bartel and Scott Davis, running on the Bumblebees. Scott has filled out paper work for every single race from 1984 until 2014…….he started his career in the Championship Circle in 1985 with Gary Eoff on the YammerJammers. He has taken home SEVEN championships. John Faeo and Scott are the only two to own so many first place Iron Dog trophies. Scott’s record is what keeps Dusty VanMeter chomping to tie or beat.

1. 1984 Davis/Deptula 2nd
2. 1985 Davis/Eoff 1st
3. 1986 Davis/Tachick 3rd
4. 1987 Davis/Torkelson 2nd
5. 1988 Davis/Torkelson DNF
6. 1989 Davis/Torkelson 1st
7. 1990 Davis/Torkelson 3rd
8. 1991 DNS
9. 1992 Davis/Long ?
10. 1993 Davis/Long 1st
11. 1994 Davis/Long DNF
12. 1995 Davis /Long 4th
13. 1996 DNS
14. 1997 Davis/Carr 1st
15. 1998 Davis/Carr 1st
16. 1999 Davis/Carr 1st
17. 2000 Davis/Carr 2nd
18. 2001 Davis/Hibbert 3rd
19. 2002 Davis/Hibbert 9th
20. 2003 No Race -
21. 2004 Davis/Palin 2nd
22. 2005 Davis/Palin 2nd
23. 2006 Davis/Palin 2nd
24. 2007 Davis/Palin 1st
25. 2008 Davis/Palin 4th
26. 2009 Davis/Palin 3rd
27. 2010 Davis/Palin DNF
28. 2011 Davis/Davis 3rd
29. 2012 Davis/Palin 5th
30. 2013 Davis/Palin 5th
31. 2014 BartelDavis

The course has been shaken up a couple times but one thing about a cross country race is the terrain has to offer a challenge and be somewhat consistent for records to be set and broken….Dusty does have more 2,000 mile wins than anyone else right now, but he has two more to go before he can say he is tied with Scott or John for Iron Dog Championships!!!

John Faeo
6 wins of 1000 miles
1 win of 2000 miles
3 back to back of 1,000 miles

Scott Davis
2 wins of 1000 miles
5 wins of 2000 miles
3 back to back of 2,000 miles (his dynasty began my first year 1997)

Rookies ARE the future
I talked to Scott about 10 years ago and he shared with me his typical workout of the day in preparation for Iron Dog…..one of the things that impressed me to no end was his 500 crunches a day….when he started racing, Scott was 25, the most he did to get ready for 1,000 miles were a few hand grips and wrist strengthening exercises. Now it takes more to get ready for 2,000 miles and 25 years later. If he wants to continue competing at this elite level, he actually never lets his body get out of shape. He eats differently, daily exercise, more miles of riding, different kind of riding, walking, running, strength building. Knowing the average age of an Iron Dogger is more than 25, if a racer wants to be competitive, he has more to do than the average well-built and finely tuned young athlete. I believe that one of the things that has changed over time is the preparedness that a racer goes through getting ready to beat his body up for 2000 miles…..quitting smoking, exercise, better nutrition, acclimatization etc…..

Over the years of my involvement, I have seen first-hand the dedication of Scott Davis to further the mission of Iron Dog. He is a competitor first, but an ambassador too, he wears many hats as he has worn many different hats in the Iron Dog for brands, for sponsors, for friends, for volunteers, there isn’t another that can say he has been there on a seat sitting in the starting chute since the beginning. Wearing Lucky Seven, with Aaron Bartel just 23 years old, less than ½ of Scott’s age and two years younger than his own son, the 2013 run will be another for the history books.
Since Scott started racing back in 1984 there have been many many changes….some good, some not so good, I guess it depends on whom you talk to, what your race philosophy is, here is just a short recap:

Equipment Changes: Camelbacks, cold weather gear, electric hand warmers, body wraps, nutrition changes, protein bars, protein energy drinks, nicotine patches, caffeine lozenge, high tech materials for clothing and layering
Machine Changes: Fan cooled, Liquid cooled, 440 – 800, 4 stroke, basic engine engineering, computer driven engines, lap top diagnostics v/s a look and see, all the innovations have made for faster times and if a racer knows his equipment inside and out, it helps to maintain leads or gain time even if they aren’t on the snow.
Racer Changes: Partner development, partner magic, partner splits, it all comes into play and it might mean energy, enthusiasm and the difference between a win, place or show!!!!

Iron Dog racers have made innovations become production…..helmet lights, cargo bag innovations, gas tanks, clothing…..pit zips, fit, flexibility, how material reacts to subzero temperatures.

Durability testing and valuation to the Stock Production Sled….Racers retrofit machines…. Forcing reengineering to the manufactures production equipment, lights, weight, track length, reinforce and improving strength and durability.

Kirk Hibbert of Arctic Cat once told Scott “2000 miles of Iron Dog is the equivalent of 10,000 miles by a consumer rider.” Not too far from the truth for sure!!!

Rules and Differences:

  • 1984 – 1992 air support, all out do what you wanted, but NO one else worked on sleds
  • 1993 parts carried on team sleds, NO other helpers on equipment, NO helpers on trail, each team carried approximately 50-100 lbs of extra parts— 4 springs @ 3.5 lbs each, front arms, rear arm, high fax, you name it….they found a place to carry efficiently.
  • In 1997 parts were no longer required on sled, teams could have parts staged and shipped…or “Let’s make a deal in the village”…..
  • Present day teams have a dedicated named Pit Crew. They can work on sleds in the Nome Checkpoint, side by side, bringing their A game that saves, time, mental stamina and hopefully a strong grip.

Nome Album of Facebook

Ambassadors & Sponsors & Logistics Ambassadors
The First Friendship ride was on the 10th anniversary of Iron Dog. 14 riders stopped at each checkpoint to celebrate our 10th anniversary and thank the communities and volunteers along the way. There have been several of those kinds of events again but this last year, our Presenting Sponsor Alaska National Guard was able to ride along and I know that they were able to see the value in their support of this event first hand. There isn’t anything like seeing a young person admire a racer like a person living in the villages. In fact the Iron Dog is an event that has attracted several race teams that have grown up watching Iron Dog and reaching a lifetime goal of participating.

Sponsors: The event has had ever changing sponsors over the course of 31 years, but the most faithful until just a few years ago was Tesoro. The one thing Iron Dog couldn’t do was find enough sponsorship funds to pay for fuel. When you have this many machines out there an no way of knowing what the driver is going to use from checkpoint to checkpoint you have to assume that he will use the maximum to cover the distance from checkpoint to checkpoint….sometimes that will be 5 gallons and sometimes it might be 18 gallons.

Logistics: To stage fuel and other supplies that are needed, oil, isopropyl, antifreeze, takes a fleet of planes and coordination effort of airlines, Northern Air Cargo, Lynden Air Cargo and Evert’s have been almost as big a sponsor as the presenting sponsor. Barrels of fuel are moved, machines are moved, and freight is forwarded to their shared revenue airlines.

Back to my Lucky #7: The 7th Checkpoint is Ophir. The checkers at Ophir are usually a class group led by a wonderful core of volunteers surrounding a class project from the students at Takotna. Ophir is a summer gold mine with some land devoted to a small runway, there aren’t any resident there in the winter when Iron Dog goes through, and it is where we always take the northern route and head to Poorman. Racers are tricked into several different trails and it’s where a team can get turned around and lose about 15 miles if they aren’t lucky……we highly recommend don’t follow tracks that aren’t marked. The volunteers of Takotna went out last week and broke a trail to Poorman so for the Trail Class it will be a fresh trail, but for the Pro Class, it might be beat up or it could be completely gone by the time they get here next Monday!!!!

I can’t help but think the photo of Scott and Aaron at this year’s Drawing Banquet so full of admiration, filled with excitement in their eyes, wishing you two the best of luck, a great run, and another chance to make history, Iron Dog HISTORY!!!! Scott has been around to see all of the above described historical changes, I am happy to call him my friend, I am happy to see him paired up with the new generation that I will come to call “Generation Zoom Zoom” Scott remains a force to be reckoned and I am super excited to see TEAM SEVEN in SEVEN days, Big Lake, Alaska for the World’s Longest Toughest Snowmobile Race!!!!