Athlete of the week: Andrew Carlson, Elk River, Snowcross: A big jump
by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Andrew Carlson grew up in a snowmobiling family and can’t remember a time he wasn’t racing. He got started age four on a 120 cc sled and has done well at every age level.
This winter, the 18-year-old ERHS senior decided to make a big jump, from Sport Stock o Semi-Pro, one rung from the top.
“In semi-pro, you’re going against teams, and against drivers who have been doing this a long time, not just guys who want to try racing,” said Carlson. Facing good drivers 20 to 23 was a learning experience. He struggled to adjust to the wickedly rapid pace but his lap times improved steadily, and he moved from not qualifying for finals to to fighting for a podium spot every race. Piloting an Arctic Cat 600 Sno Pro, he rose to 13th in the final International Series oof Champions standings.
Highlights were regional event wins at ERX in semi pro, pro, and pro-am open classes; the regional season points title in pro-am open; and five top-ten finishes in national events including fourth in Hayward, WI, and fifth in Farmington, NY. ISOC listed him as one of the most improved drivers.
His dad, Chris, owns Sportech, manufacturer of windshields and accessories for snowmobiles and motorcycles, and for years has sponsored races. Carlson and Todd Plaistad operate the ERX trac knorth of town. Chris is a longtime racer and. Andy’s sister Taylor was a high-level racer before attending college.
Andrew is known for his endurance, developed by year-round cardio and weight training along daily practice at ERX. His fastest laps often come late in the race when many drivers fade.
Maintain-ing the same speed from the start to the end of the race is much easier said than done.
“Your whole body feels it,” said Carlson. “You are pulling a 500-pound machine through six-foot-deep holes going as fast as you can, for 15 minutes, and hanging on as tight as you can. You have to pull that sled and make it do what you want it to do.”
In a sport with some flamboyant personalities, the youngster takes a low-key, spiritual approach, summed up by these words on duct tape on his handlebar: “I am confident beyond reason because my confidence lies in Christ. Let the competition begin. Let the glory be God’s.”
Coming up the ranks, Carlson was a WPSA regional season champ in the junior 14-15 class. Last year, he won a national Sport Superstock race in Duluth, where the crowds are biggest; was national season-points runner-up in sport stock, and a regional event champion at ERX in semi-pro.
At ERHS, the 5-foot-9, 185-pound Carlson has lettered in football and lacrosse. He was a part-time starter at offensive guard his senior year.
He took up Beater-X last summer when ERX added this brand of auto racing where small cars go airborne on a motocross track and won two of three races. He plans try Wissota Mod “B” racing this summer.
Carlson said he will attend Bethel and continue in snocross with the goal of turning pro in three or four years.
THE CARLSON SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 18 … Family: parents Chris and Debra; sister Taylor, 19 … Sports: snocross, football, lacrosse, auto racing …. Other activities: Fellowship of Christian Athletes … Academics: 3.4 GPA …. College plans: Bethel, mechanical engineering
Favorite stuff — Class: drafting … TV show: “The Apprentice” … Movie: “Step Brothers” … Team: Vikings … Athlete: Ryan Dungey (pro motocross) … Food: pasta … Drink: chocolate milk … Kickback: hunting, fishing at cabin by Mlle Lacs … Place he’d like to visit: Sweden, to race