Wrench day in Nome can be a breeze or a blizzard

Wrench day in Nome can be a breeze or a blizzard
Published: Feb. 21, 2023 at 9:49 PM AKST|Updated: Feb. 21, 2023 at 10:18 PM AKST
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NOME, Alaska (KTUU) - Depending on the shape of the snowmachine when racers arrive in Nome, wrench day can make or break a competitor’s run in the Iron Dog race.

It’s a day when no snowmachine is moving forward or backward, and time can be made up without moving an inch. Each team gets 15 minutes to inspect their respective machines and make note of what they will have to fix once the wrenching begins.

“You have a warm shop here to recognize it, and take advantage of fixing it and doing preventative maintenance — carbides, changing stuff out that can help you on the next thousand miles. Not mention getting a good day of rest — we gotta recoup,” team 39 racer Cody Barber said.

Once teams start working on their snowmachines, the clock starts and every second they have hands on the machine is added to their total race time.

“If these other guys wrench for 30, 45 minutes, we just gained 30 to 45 minutes on them — without moving an inch,” team 2′s Brian Sottosanti said.

“You can get passed in the garage just as quick as you can get passed on the trail,” teammate Brian Kishbaugh added.

Another big moment of wrench day was the celebration of those that competed in the Expedition Class, with each snowmachiner getting a fitting award — a commemorative gold pan. The Expedition Class is growing every single year and this class got quite the round of applause for making it to the finish line.

Pro Class racers, meanwhile, are so focused on their race times that they can’t afford to take in the sights around them.

“That’s been one interesting thing about this race, is the time is such an element to it, but you are surviving with this other person through all this insane stuff, and then there are these flashes of beauty that you can’t describe,” Hillaire Gossett of team 16 said.

Now that wrench day is done, the racers wait on the weather — a blizzard is currently sitting right on top of Nome. In most years, the leaders would start taking off at 8 a.m. the day after wrench day, but with the approaching weather, that start could be delayed.