Mark Tunguaq won the open mod division during the Philip Tagoona Memorial Ice Drag Races in Baker Lake on June 1.

Tunguaq was using a sled owned by Taqtu Tunguaq, his nephew, and tuned with the help of his brother, Tim Tunguaq.

The races were run using a best two-out-of-three elimination format with two snowmobiles going head to head at a time.

The second and third place finishers in the heats then faced off in a semifinal, with the winner facing the top seed. Bryon Ikoe finished in second place while Carlos Simailak took third place.

“Mark ended up going undefeated in the heats and then he and another guy went head to head for the top spot,” Tim told Kivalliq News. “With my boy and myself, we tuned it right, making sure nothing fell off during the races.”

It was a fitting return for the Tunguaq family, who took a break from racing after the death of two relatives several years ago.

“My late mom and my nephew passed away months apart. From then on it wasn’t really a priority to be in races for a while,” Tim said.

The Tunguaq family has been involved in snowmobile racing ever since Tim started in 1977.

Now 62-years-old, Tim said Taqtu started building sleds about a decade ago, at which point he began helping out his son.

“I try and give him the little bit of knowledge I have,” Tim said.

In the open mod division, building up the sled mechanically is just as important, if not more so, than the person racing it, Tim said. Taqtu ended up sending his sled to a famous engine builder in Ontario, which helped bring their 1,000cc sled up to 1,019cc.

“Basically, anything goes,” said Tim. “If you got your 800, you run your 800. If you got your 1,000, you race your 1,000.”

The drag event was originally supposed to be held in early May. However, cold spring weather prevented the races from happening.

Because the races took place so late in the season, Tunguaq said the ice was a little on the soft side for some of the high-powered sleds. The bad conditions forced the committee to shorten the races from the usual 200 metres to 150 metres.

“With the crappy ice, they weren’t running so good,” he said, adding that the machines were clocked at 166-169 kilometres per hour at 150 metres. “There was one more sled that ran faster than that but something went wrong with it so he didn’t finish,” Tim said.

In the 600cc division, Patrick Attungala won using Marvin Mannik’s sled. Russell Aaruaq took second place while Solomon Simailak came in third.

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