The duo of Harold Attla and Archie Beetus, have both run the Iron Dog before, but this is the first time I got to visit with them, to get a better understanding of what they are out to accomplish!!! Their racing bios declare they have five Iron Dog rides/races and only one DNF. Archie-Ray Beetus is Harold’s cousin, 21 years his junior.
During Fairbanks summers, when on the Yukon River ….they have a little speed rush on a flat bottomed plywood boat christened the “My Pleasure”. Harold Attla has a long history of boat racing….over 30 years to be exact. I am blown away by Harold’s racing Dynasty, it is a double digit number….a record of 10 wins (can you hear me now? LET ME REPEAT THAT — 10 WINS), in 29 years….I can’t imagine how long his record will stand without being broken – maybe never. It is a remarkable record and similar to the Iron Dog records of Scott Davis & John Faeo….they each have 7 wins, although Scott has more 2,000 mile wins than John. There is only ONE current racer that comes close to a chance of breaking their records …. Dusty VanMeter – he owns FIVE 2,000 mile wins in Iron Dog, Dusty is teamed up with Chad Gueco and will be wearing Bib #17 this year.
When Archie was just 19, barely of majority age, he played an important role as a Yukon 800 rookie Champion…..he stood on the podium lifting a championship trophy with his Captain and his cousin Harold Attla…..he told me he was the guy that hung on for dear life on top a couple pieces of plywood that resemble a boat, acting as human ballast and directional assist to overcome the limitations of steering at speeds that can’t be completed with that handy little round thing we call a steering wheel.
When Captain Harold Attla spoke in the room full of Iron Dog racers on Tuesday night’s Hall of Fame and Start Order Banquet…he accepted his place in the lineup….going out in 35th position, wearing bib #19. He shared some very powerful words and told the room full of Iron Doggers his hope was to be competitive, he also told us of he was inspired by what Scott Davis had accomplished in the past 34 years of Iron Dog racing. Harold admitted he also takes great inspiration from words he remembered from the introduction of the Wide World of Sports…..”The Thrill of Victory…..The Agony of Defeat”. His dream of winning is sensibly balanced with the realization that defeat is a possibility….but the THRILL is what makes him come back with the heavy-duty desire to be competitive.
The Attla name has some mighty fine JUJU…..a long history in dog racing, but its Harold’s true claim to fame as Captain of the My Pleasure I am most familiar with. When Iron Dog first went to Fairbanks in 1998, I spoke with lots of different motor sports fans and the Yukon 800 was the one race everyone raved about…..a boat race that goes from Fairbanks to Galena and back…800 miles of river racing at average speed of 67.5 MPH.
It is like us taking a 12 hour car ride from Oklahoma City to Chicago without much of a stop except to refuel. Try doing that on a couple sheets of plywood, maned by three light weights (optimum 120-149 lbs each) with powerful muscles …to help keep them balanced— and the strength to pull through multiple 5 G-force corners on the Mighty Yukon River. My buddy Click Bishop of Fairbanks told me it was the secret sauce he applied to the bottom of the boat. I guarantee you Harold’s secret sauce is a fantastic recipe……because there isn’t anyone in the history of Yukon 800 racing that comes close to his record wins and he also holds a time record of 11:52….if Harold throttles a snowgo like he does his plywood race boat……Iron Doggers beware.
Archie and Harold have more than 4,000 training miles between them this year. Archie says he spent a lot of mechanical time, field repairs and shop time, and yet he feels physically ready to race. They are supported by a lot of family that live in villages along the Iron Dog trail, the roar of fan chatter will certainly cause Facebook engagement statistics to spike off the charts when they are motoring through the 700+ miles of the Yukon, Tanana, Nenana and Chena Rivers running……Harold and Archie it was “My Pleasure” to meet you, get a story line or two from you. I will be rooting from the sidelines across the Internet lines…..above all else, stick to your game plan, run your own race and enjoy the ride!!!!
Harriett Fenerty, Iron Dog Maiden, Den Mother or just Harriett
To see the rest of Harriett’s photos of Team 19 check out her photo album Team 19