Polaris Race Director Tom Rager Is Pleased with the New 440 IQ
By Scott A. Sumner
At the recent Duluth race we were able to talk to Polaris Race Director, Tom Rager.
"Unfortunately because of the lack of snow we are doing a lot of testing here at the race and that is always a bad thing. For the most part, the sleds that we are working on to get the suspensions dialed in, are working really well and winning a lot of their rounds," says Tom Rager, Polaris Race Director. "We'll see how the weekend goes. We may have to put out a team tip to all the other drivers for some modifications to their suspension set up."
"We built a prototype last December (the Polaris 440 IQ) and we finally got it on the race track in mid February. We went to three WSA Nationals with it. It's pretty much the same vehicle that we have today and were pretty happy with it. We were the number one qualifier twice out of the three nationals last year," says Rager. "We did some more testing after Lake Geneva, made a few changes to the chassis and went back and built the thing. We've been running it on the wood chips all summer and went to production about four weeks ago and are pretty happy. It is a brand new platform and normally you have more problems that were having with a brand new platform, so overall were pretty happy."
Unique to the new Polaris 440 IQ is its based on the new Polaris Fusion 900 consumer sled. "In this case the Fusion came before the race sled. When we started with this thing we used a lot of the Fusion parts. With the bulk head we made some modifications to it to fit our application, but there are a lot of similarities between the race sled and Fusion," states Rager. "We built 500 Polaris 440IQ race sleds. The mod sled is the same thing as the 440 without a motor. We have motor packages based on a 800 big block. There are some modifications done and you sell the rolling chassis and engine package."
"The most important thing in my opinion, and I try to stress this to management all the time and they buy into it, is accelerated development of the technology. We are constantly working on new things. If we want to try a new suspension we can put that new suspension in our mod sled. We can then finish the development or accelerate the development and put it in a consumer sled the next year," says Rager "I guess racing is two fold. It's customer brand loyalty. The people who are out there buying Polaris like to see Polaris win on the race track. It's also a tremendous tool for accelerating development. Those are the two issues and management believe it. Thats how a Fusion sled comes about. We have had a lot of discussions in meetings on the next generation of snowmobiles for Polaris. The plan is we are going to use racing to help that development two or three years down the road."
"I had 15 wonderful years at Bombardier and am working on my 5th year here at Polaris, so I have been around the industry about 20 years. It breaks my heart when I got the email of what was going on at Ski Doo with the layoffs. I just hope the weather will kind of change a little bit and we can get some snow and put the the bulk of those people back to work." notes Tom Rager.