The 2023 Archie Ferguson Willie Goodwin Sr. Memorial Snowmachine Race was held Friday, March 31 in Kotzebue.
The annual event, which was slated to start on Saturday, April 1, was moved to Friday this year due to the inclement weather expected over the weekend. The 220-mile race ran from Kotzebue to Noorvik, Kianna, Selawik and back to Kotzebue.
A total of 51 racers made the start at noon. Some of them traveled hundreds of miles to be there, from Nome to Kotzebue and as far away as Anchorage.
Nome’s Cody Sherman was first into the finish line, but was declared disqualified by race officials, along with racers Herman Ticket and Michael Brown of Selawik. Race officials did not provide justification to KNOM for why Sherman was disqualified.
The DQ of Sherman meant that the overall winner spot was awarded to Nome’s Mike Morgan.
I hate to win on a flop, and I feel for the guys involved,” Morgan said. “I feel for the officials. They’ve got a tough job to do.”
Morgan, who started off in 12th position in the Open Class, finished with a time of 2:36:55.
“I had a pretty good ride today,” Morgan said. “I blew a belt (and) lost some time there, but overall had a pretty good ride, I had a fun ride, had good weather and good visibility, and I can’t thank everyone enough that helped me out to get me here.”
Morgan took home a combined winning prize of $5,465, which included the payout for being the top Open Class racer. He also won a pound of coffee from Kobuk River Kuppiaq.
Nome’s Erik Johnson took first place in the 600-cc Class, pocketing $5,625. He finished the race in a time of 2:41:56.
“It’s a pretty awesome feeling you know, and I’m just glad I got to get back out there and get with the boys and go for another ride,” Johnson said.
Nome’s Shayla Johnson was the only female racer to participate in the event. She finished her 600-cc Class run in a time of 2:51:59.
Johnson, who finished in 7th place among 600-cc riders, said she isn’t intimidated in running against men in competitive snowmachine racing.
“There’s no difference, but I think the men do ride a lot better than the woman normally, but I don’t know, I think some of the top girls could be riding with the men as well,” Johnson said.
And she provided some advice to other women that want to race snowmachines.
“You need to like to go fast; go fast and not be scared to hit bumps or anything,” she added.
2022’s defending winner Tyler Aklestad didn’t race this year as he was out on the Iron Pup trail supporting a youth team.
Image at top: Racer prepare at the starting line of the Archie Ferguson Willie Goodwin Sr. Memorial Snowmachine Race. Photo by Desiree Hagen/KOTZ (2023)