Thursday, June 28, 2012

Denny Hamlin races Iditarod champion in Alaska

Denny Hamlin prepares to race 2012 Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey during a visit to the
FedEx Express Hub in Anchorage, Alaska, on Monday.
Credit: Brian Adams/FedEx Racing
By Rebecca Kivak

Denny Hamlin is used to racing against the big dogs in the Sprint Cup Series. But earlier this week in Alaska, he raced with some actual big dogs.

After Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Sonoma, the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing jetted off to the Land of the Midnight Sun. On Monday, Hamlin met more than 1,000 FedEx employees from across Alaska at the FedEx Express Hub in Anchorage.

FedEx's motto is "Every day is race day," and for Hamlin that would turn out to be true. While at the FedEx facility, Hamlin met reigning Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey. After signing autographs for the employees, the two took the action to the parking lot.

Seavey taught Hamlin a quick lesson in the sport of dogsled racing, or mushing. Then the two racers duked it out on a 100-yard course. Hamlin won the first of three races, with Seavey winning the last two.

“It was a lot of fun. Dallas was great to us,” Hamlin said about competing against the Iditarod champion.

Hamlin, 31, was in awe of Seavey, who at 25 became the youngest musher to win the heralded 975-mile event.

Hamlin, left, chats with Seavey during Monday's event in
Anchorage, Alaska. Credit:
Credit: Brian Adams/FedEx Racing
“It was amazing to hear the conditions they go through, being anywhere from 40 above zero (degrees) to 50, 60 below zero during the Iditarod run, thousand-mile run,” Hamlin said. “It's amazing to see what they do on that side and what kind of racing they do.”

The trip was Hamlin’s first to Alaska. In addition to the thrill of dogsled racing, Hamlin will remember the smiles of the FedEx employees who welcomed him.

“It was a great experience,” Hamlin said. “I had never been to Alaska before up until this past weekend, but got a chance to visit the Anchorage hub. There's 1,300 FedEx employees at that hub and greeted all of them with smiles and they just had a great time.”

FedEx has sponsored Hamlin since his entry into the Sprint Cup Series in 2005. Hamlin has participated in a lot of sponsor events since then, but this one gave him an opportunity to reach out to an area not normally on NASCAR’s radar.
           
“Living in Anchorage, Alaska, they don't get to see a whole lot of racing, nor do they get to see their driver too often. So it was a very exciting time for them,” Hamlin said.

Will a return trip to America’s 49th state be on Hamlin’s itinerary in the future? The driver hopes so.

“It almost feels like a different country that you're in,” he said. “…We were only up there for 24 hours and whatnot. So I didn't get to see all of the things that I would love to see about it.
           
“So (I) have to make another trip up there to get to experience it, because Alaska, the wilderness and the glaciers and all is what makes Alaska what it is.”

1 comments :

What happens to dogs during the Iditarod includes death, bloody diarrhea, paralysis, frostbite (where it hurts the most!), bleeding ulcers, lung damage, pneumonia, ruptured discs, viral diseases, kennel cough, broken bones, torn muscles and extreme stress. At least 142 dogs have died in the race, including two dogs who froze to death in the brutally cold winds.

Veterinary care during the Iditarod is poor. Here's just one example: Veterinarians have allowed dogs with kennel cough to race in the Iditarod even though dogs with this disease should be kept warm and given lots of rest. It's dangerous for the dogs with this disease to exercise with any intensity. Strenuous exercise can cause lung damage, pneumonia and even death. Kennel cough is a highly contagious disease that normally lasts from 10 to 21 days.

Iditarod dogs are beaten into submission. Jane Stevens, a former Iditarod dog handler, describes a dog beating in her letter published by the Whitehorse Star (Feb. 23, 2011). She wrote: "I witnessed the extremely violent beating of an Iditarod racing dog by one of the racing industry's most high-profile top 10 mushers. Be assured the beating was clearly not within an 'acceptable range' of 'discipline'. Indeed, the scene left me appalled, sick and shocked. After viewing an individual sled dog repeatedly booted with full force, the male person doing the beating jumping back and forth like a pendulum with his full body weight to gain full momentum and impact. He then alternated his beating technique with full-ranging, hard and fast, closed-fist punches like a piston to the dog as it was held by its harness splayed onto the ground. He then staggeringly lifted the dog by the harness with two arms above waist height, then slammed the dog into the ground with full force, again repeatedly, all of this repeatedly."

During the 2007 race, eyewitnesses reported that musher Ramy Brooks kicked, punched and beat his dogs with a ski pole and a chain. Jon Saraceno wrote in his column in USA Today, "He [Colonel Tom Classen] confirmed dog beatings and far worse. Like starving dogs to maintain their most advantageous racing weight. Skinning them to make mittens. Or dragging them to their death."

Jim Welch says in his book Speed Mushing Manual, "Nagging a dog team is cruel and ineffective...A training device such as a whip is not cruel at all but is effective." He also said, "It is a common training device in use among dog mushers..." Former Iditarod dog handler Mike Cranford wrote in Alaska's Bush Blade Newspaper: "Dogs are clubbed with baseball bats and if they don't pull are dragged to death in harnesses....."

Iditarod dog kennels are puppy mills. Most mushers have more than 50 dogs. Some have more than 100. Mushers breed large numbers of dogs and routinely kill unwanted ones, including puppies. Many dogs who are permanently disabled in the Iditarod, or who are unwanted for any reason, including those who have outlived their usefulness or have no economic value, are killed with a shot to the head, dragged, drowned or clubbed to death.

FOR MORE FACTS: Sled Dog Action Coalition, http://www.helpsleddogs.org

Post a Comment