Mitch messer posted up these two photos from Alexandria in December of 1977. They contain two really cool details.
In the first one, Brad Hulings is taking is aluminum 440 RXL to the staging area. Previous photos of this sled have always shown the holes in the rear of the tunnel leaving the question “why are those holes there??” Well now we know. They were trying a very Yamaha-like rear suspension strut system. I must not have worked too well, because by the following week, there are no more pictures like this that show the actual struts.
In the second one.. we see in the background, Jerry Bunke’s 440X with the tunnel painted black. This picture was posted on the site some time ago, and I didn’t know where the photo was taken… until now. Turns out, it was taken in Alexandria on the same day.
These last two photos were also taken at Alexandria, with Brad Hulings leaning over his 440, which you can just make out the struts on the rear of the tunnel. Next to it is Bunke 440 – and look! It has NO paint on the tunnel! So Bunke had two sleds in Alexandria. One 440 with a painted tunnel (his 440X sled) and a 440 with an Aluminum tunnel, so that has to be the 440 aluminum bulkhead sled he ran in the regular 440 class!
That could well be the first photo ever that I can verify the existence of that 440 aluminum sled! Keep in mind Jerry did get another magnesium sled just before Eagle River, so that sled was not in Alexandria.