The Leafer Replacement(s)

In Eagle River, Wisconsin, in 1977, Brad Hulings and Steve Thorsen were still driving leaf-spring front-end machines, when the rest of the team sleds had that fancy new IFS front-end on them.

But pictures from the last race of the season in West Yellowstone, Montana, show no leafers, and Thorsen and Hulings are driving IFS machines in the IFS class.

This means the leafers were replaced by IFS sleds.

One SnoTrack magazine article interviews Hulings as he is testing his new IFS sled late into the night at Syracuse, New York, indicating he and Thorsen got the IFS machines right after Eagle River.

The question has always been, in my mind, what were these two new sleds? Were they built new?

Turns out, no, they were not. At Eagle River, Jim Bernat had a 440 and a 340 IFS machine. Right after he Eagle River, Bernat quietly retired. Ten years was enough. The most likely scenario was that those two sleds were then turned into the 250’s for Hulings and Thorsen.

Steve M, (last name withheld as I would guess he would not want it all over the internet) bought a 77 250 well over twenty years ago, and has it since. I met him in about 2004, and we’ve gotten to be friends ever since. We worked out a interesting trade, and this 77 made it to my garage as of yesterday.

Checking the serial numbers at the Derby Track (something I highly recommend for anyone with any kind of race sled) we found it was registered as Bernat’s 340 that year.

This picture was taken at West Yellowstone.. and it sure looks like the same handle bars and seat.


The passion, triumph, dominance and tragedy of one of the most successful
efforts in motorsports: The Polaris Professional Race Team


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