1979: With the tragic accident that claimed Jerry Bunke, Polaris corporate threw in the towel and decided they were done with professional oval racing as a factory. But Polaris wanted to support anyone who wanted to still run a Polaris as best they could, so they setup the old race truck to do just that.
No new machinery would come out of Polaris except for three very special machines for some hand picked drivers.
Frans Rosenquist, Ron Barnes and Doug Hayes would each get a special machine.
Doug’s was a magnesium bulkheaded RXL with a Dick Bahr built Rotax that literally flew. Frans and Ron each got a special new chassis that was longer, offset and also came from Polaris with Larry Rugland built Rotax engines. They even went so far as to remove all the markings from the engines and referred to them as “Fuji prototypes”.
Other top drivers like T.J. Patrick, Todd Elmer, Lee Hausken and many others got the best of the 78 factory sleds, and as much as they could carry in free parts and help.
The truck was staffed with a lot of the Polaris racing engineering superstars like Greg Hedlund, Jim Bernat, Dalton Lisell, Jan Hedlund and more. They did everything they could to help the drivers. Lee Hausken tells the story of how he wrecked his RXL at Eagle River (Lee is in the poster with the stars on his leather racing suit) and the Polaris guys stripped the mangled tunnel off and replaced it with a new one in an hour, getting him back on the track and into the thick of the action.
1979 would also see the debut of what would become the Polaris Indy. Specially built cross-country racers with independent front suspension. The cross-country boys, (Burt Basset, Bob Przekwas and Ed Monsrud) would literally clean up with the special new sleds, and Polaris would reap the benefits for many years to come from the development of these very special machines.
This is the poster I created for a sled display at the Polaris 50th anniversary.