This year the IronDog snowmachine race across the Alaskan wilderness is coming with an increasing workload as changing covid restrictions make it logistically challenging for both the race organizers and the participants. First time competitors are being hit hardest with these challenges, but Israel and his brother Joseph Hale are very familiar with overcoming challenges and plan to win the race this year.
The Hale Brothers ran their first race last year in 2020. Joseph introduced the idea to his brother Israel just a few years prior. Both having very little experience on snowmachines, and no race experience decided to take the challenge head on. This year they are finding more support from fellow racers as well as seeing increasing support from sponsors and the community.
“Israel Hale lost both of his legs above the knees following an accident in September 2012. After picking up building supplies in Anchorage, he and his wife, Cori, stopped on the side of the road to adjust his heavily loaded trailer. As he was inspecting it, another driver crashed into him, essentially severing Hale’s legs upon impact. That moment changed his life forever.” – https://www.irondog.org/news/a-brothers-love
This year the Hale Brothers got first draw and first choice of pole position. They’ve chosen to be first. They know they can get a big lead on the first leg of the course, reporting they can reach the first checkpoint in just one hour. They learned last year that there are no real trail markers. They rely on a GPS track that they created last year and from this year’s practice. The two have more hours practicing than other race teams, but are missing on some key parts of the track. With the current covid restrictions in some villages the Hale Brothers are respecting their requests on visitors while some other racers have been travelling to these villages regardless.
It’s not all challenges for Israel and Joseph. They were able to run a section of the track last year in the Trail Class that the Pro Class did not run. Israel said that at one point last year they were following wolf tracks in the snow to find their way back to a human trail. Israel also noted some advantages to running the race without legs is that he can use the floorboards for storage and his center of gravity is much lower in the corners. A disadvantage being he can’t use the toe hooks when going over rolling terrain and they have to slow down.
During the race Israel always rides up front in case he needs assistance so his brother Joseph can catch up to him. They also ride closer together than most teams with Joseph following the lights on Israel’s Machine or his helmet if the lights are not visible. They also try to avoid any possibility of going into water. Being new and unencumbered to the race they also have a thoroughly methodical approach to the race and are making decisions that some of the older racers don’t seem to recognize.
Israel owns and operates his rental business AK Toy Rentals in Palmer, Alaska. Renting snowmobiles, ATVs, and other powersports. He is a one stop shop for renting powersports in Alaska. They provide everything from the machine and clothing, to the trailer hitches you may have forgotten to bring. The business slows down during race season now as Israel can’t give it his full attention.
As part of his community efforts, Israel tries to report the snow conditions of anywhere he goes out. Saying that in winter Alaska is a great community of Snowshredders.
With Israel’s rental business and Hale Brothers Racing, Israel is striving to support other handicap persons to get out and race, hunt, snow machine, and ride ATVs. He is hoping to help them continue an old hobby or develop a new one they didn’t think was possible.
At this time Israel is already sharing some of his machines with the Wounded Warriors Project and other non-military organizations.
With their introduction to the race last year, and their bush skills that they’ve developed since childhood these brothers represent the greatest form of Alaskan will and ingenuity. The Brothers were raised Christian and are active in their church communities. They strive to lead a very Christian life by inspire others, and are pushing to win this race. They are real witnesses for their faith and racing. Almost without a doubt Joseph and Israel will finish this race, and have a true shot at winning this year.
To Support Israel and Joseph visit their facebook page at Hale Brothers Racing
Follow us and IronDog for more updates on the race as well as this amazing team!