Snow Goer magazine was launched as the first national snowmobile magazine 50 years ago. To celebrate, Snow Goer is taking readers on a volume-by-volume walk through the history of snowmobiling, as captured on the magazine’s pages. Below is the review of the 1969-70 publishing season. Other years will be also be published — use SG@50 in the search bar on the website to find them. Here’s a link to the opening section plus links to the 1966-67 section, the 1967-68 section, the 1968-69 section, the 1969-70 section, the 1970-71 section and the 1971-72 section.
Snow Goer and its spring photo shoot took a dramatic turn to the technical side for the 1972-73 season to gain an edge on a growing legion of snowmobile magazine competition. The spring tests, held that year at Togwotee Mountain Lodge in Wyoming, featured machines run on a chassis dynamometer and subjected to tip-over angle tests, sound testing and more. The editors did note the peril of doing scientific testing on pre-production machines but they logged interesting results.
Of the 13 sleds featured in the September issue, the amazing Brut LC44 put up the biggest numbers. Its liquid-cooled, 439cc triple produced 50 hp at 6700 rpm on the dyno, 10 more than its nearest competition – the Alouette Sno-Brute 440, Boa-Ski Mark II R/T 440, Mercury Hurricane Mark I and Rupp Nitro 440 all logged 40 hp. The Brut was also the fastest and the loudest – 67 mph with the limited resistance of the dyno, but an eardrum-splitting 107 decibels at three-quarter throttle. Only the Harley-Davidson Y440, at 103 decibels, was in the same ballpark on noise, but that Harley made only 35 hp. (Loud and slow? Go ahead, Harley haters – have fun with that!)
Other issues included a mix of tour stories (including Vermont, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Washington) as well as a story titled “The Truth About Those European Snowmobile Tours.” There was also a growing section of how-to stories to allow buyers of sleds with less-than-ideal build quality to repair their snowmobiles.
The growing popularity of racing and adventure was reflected with an extensive interview with recent I-500 winner Yvon Duhamel, a profile on five successful female racers – including Dorothy Mercer – a tech feature on liquid-cooled engines used in racing and an interview with a member of the Plaisted Expedition that reached the North Pole in 1968.
Taken in a vacuum, the estimated sales of 450,000 new snowmobiles seemed impressive. But the snowmobile world was actually hurting, as inventory levels reached an all-time high of 315,000 units. There was also trouble brewing in the Middle East, and we’re not talking about Maryland.