Minneapolis, Minn. - The finish line at the 41st Annual SCORE Baja 1000 was as dramatic as it was historic. Racing a pair of stock Arctic Cat Prowlers, the Bi-Polar/Arctic Cat team beat the brutal conditions to finish first and second place in the world's longest, continuous off-road race. It was the first time in race history a side-by-side UTV vehicle has finished what is widely regarded as the most grueling off-road race in the world.
Reid Rutherford complemented the historic triumph with a fifth-place finish in the Pro ATV class on an Arctic Cat Thundercat 1000 H2 EFI.
"We were the first-time finishers and first-time winners in this greatest of all races because of a total team effort," said Bi-Polar team co-owner and driver Jim Creagan of Yacott, Wash. "From start-to-finish, every person fulfilled their role perfectly and each Prowler performed magnificently."
Finishing first in the 634-mile race with a time of 27 hours and 57 minutes was a stock 2009 Prowler XTZ 1000 driven by Creagan and co-pilot Tim Wagner for the first 409 miles, followed by driver/co-driver Chris Fallon and Aaron Bahner for the remainder of the course.
Taking second place at 28 hours and 13 minutes was a 2009 Prowler XTX 700 EFI driven by three driver/co-driver combinations: Shane Morgan and Tabor Cresap, Scott Sorenson and Justin Serface, and Casey Squires and Mike Connors.
It was just the second attempt at the Baja 1000 for the Bi-Polar/Arctic Cat team. In 2007 they made it to mile-810 before succumbing to a broken suspension bolt. They returned this year, ready to prove the Prowler's durability and to support their sponsors: Arctic Cat, Wired Energy Drink, Vision X Lighting, GBC Motorsports, TrailReady Beadlock Rims and King Shocks.
"These were stock Prowlers except for the required roll-cage, extra night lights, King shocks and tires," said Creagan. "Nothing broke on either machine during the race and we had only one flat tire on the 700. Our support crew never even had to put a tool to either machine. It was just gas-and-go at the pit stops, which is a testament to their durability and performance. "
The fifth-place in Class 25 Pro ATV by Reid Rutherford, Ben Vernadikis and Tony Valerio aboard a stock Thundercat 1000 H2 EFI was equally compelling. It was the first time an Arctic Cat ATV attempted the Baja 1000, competing against and beating all but four modified racing models.
Rutherford credited his Thundercat for handling the extra-tough course: "This was my sixth Baja 1000 and it was the most difficult course yet. The Thundercat handled it without a problem, giving us an advantage over the sport models in the rocky and silt terrain. I know we finished stronger and fresher than the other teams, thanks to the suspension and comfort of the big Cat."
With a stock suspension, stock chassis and stock engine, Rutherford's Thundercat proved that the most powerful production ATV is equally durable. He was sponsored by Planet Motorsports, Speedwerx, Douglas Wheels, Rox, Fly and RTT.
Most competitors were in agreement that this year's course was the toughest in race history. In addition to the usual array of car-sized boulders, horrible silt sections and surprise obstacles, the course delivered a 60-mile section of 4-ft. whoop-de-dos that claimed many of the 347 racers. Only 227 vehicles survived to finish the famed event.
"Team Arctic racers delivered a historic performance at the 2008 Baja 1000 and I couldn't be more proud of them," said Arctic Cat ATV Race Manager Ted Bettin. "The Bi-Polar Prowler team worked incredibly hard for two years. To earn the honor and distinction of being the first-ever UTV to finish the Baja 1000, and to finish first and second place, speaks volumes about their dedication and professionalism.
"The Thundercat team's fifth place in their first-year effort with our program proves their capability as well as the awesome performance of our ATV. Everyone at Arctic Cat appreciates the hard work and success of our racers at Baja."
About Arctic Cat
Arctic Cat Inc., based in Thief River Falls, Minn., designs, engineers, manufactures and markets all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and snowmobiles under the Arctic Cat(r) brand name, as well as related parts, garments and accessories. Its common stock is traded on the Nasdaq National Market under the ticker symbol "ACAT." More information about Arctic Cat and its products is available on the Internet at www.arcticcat.com.