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Indy Champ Bobby Unser, Three Volunteers Named To International Snowmobile Hall Of Fame

By John Prusak

The International Snowmobile Hall of Fame Class of 2018 was announced this morning, and it includes four men whose accomplishments and contributions to the sport vary about as much as their geographic location – and the come from Nova Scotia, Utah, Minnesota and New Mexico.

                The induction ceremony for this year’s class will be in September in Eagle River, Wisconsin, where the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame is housed inside the World Snowmobile Headquarters building north of the Eagle River Derby Track.

                This particular Hall of Fame typically selects nominees from the following categories: inventors, designers and manufacturers; explorers and adventurers; trail and program developers; volunteers and club organizers; publishers and journalists. This year’s class includes three men from the volunteer category and one inventor, and the inventor is none-other-than famed three-time Indy 500 winner Bobby Unser, who made many contributions to snowmobile design.

                The volunteers of Dave Guenther of Minnesota, Curt Kennedy of Utah and Stan Slack of Nova Scotia.  

                Below are the write-ups from the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame. For more details on the hall, the induction ceremony and past honorees, click here.  The banquet and induction ceremony will be the weekend of September 21-22. Also, see the story on the snowmobile club, groomer operator, dealer and Edgar Hetteen award winners this year. 

CLASS OF 2018

Dave Guenther of Breezy Point, Minnesota

Dave Guenther

Dave Guenther

Dave Guenther’s fascination with snowmobiles started way back in 1963 when he was in first grade. Then, in 1970, his family bought their first snowmobile. After wearing out four motors on that sled, Dave bought his first snowmobile while still in high school. He grew up in Minnesota which was, at that time, the hotbed of snowmobile manufacturing. It allowed him to associate with many icons of the new sport, establish lasting friendships with them and become very knowledgeable about the new sport that was sweeping the country. Soon the “antique” bug infected him. His first, a 1964 Trailmaker, soon led him on a journey and mission that continues today to sustain the history of the sport through the preservation of the machines that created the sport. Dave was instrumental in the formation of the Antique Snowmobile Club of America (ASCOA), has served every office in the club, including nine years as president and  20 years as editor of the newsletter. He has been a safety instructor for 20-plus years and was the 2010 Instructor of the Year for the Minnesota DNR. With a never-ending passion for snowmobiling, he has created, organized and managed numerous snowmobile shows throughout the state and has been honored with numerous awards for his snowmobile and civic achievements. For his 55 years of unselfish promotion and support of the sport, Dave Guenther is now being inducted into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame.

Curt Kennedy of Salt Lake City, Utah

Curt Kennedy

Curt Kennedy

Curt Kennedy’s exposure to snowmobiling started in 1986. By 1992, he was heavily involved with the Utah Snowmobile Association (USA) and has become the backbone of that organization. He is known as the expert on public land use issues and economic analysis of the importance of snowmobiling to rural communities in Utah. He lists his most favorable experiences as Director of Public Lands for USA and has 15 years of dedicated and unassuming service to that organization.

Many times, he has demonstrated the “voice of reason” when working to resolve sensitive land-use issues. Among his many achievements are service to the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA) as treasurer for five years, assisted in founding the Avalanche Center, writing 15 different ISMA grants totaling $67,000 to be used for medial support of snowmobiling in Utah, directing the 2005 ISC and orchestrating a State Economic Impact Study. Curt received the Snowmobiler of the Year award from USA in 2003-04 for his untiring efforts to promote and grow snowmobiling in the state of Utah. His list of accomplishments fills many pages. Always the dedicated, talented and ever humble person, he has traveled the state and nation at his own expense, even when funds were available. While he is stepping away from all of these snowmobile activities and organizations to enjoy some retirement, Curt Kennedy is now being fittingly rewarded for a lifetime of service to the sport with his induction into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame.

Stan Slack of Nova Scotia

Stan Slack

Stan Slack

Known in Nova Scotia as the “Gentleman of Snowmobiling,” Stan Slack has been an integral part of the Snowmobilers Association of Nova Scotia (SANS) for almost 40 years. He has served nine of those years as president and was a major factor in growing SANS from six clubs (with 300 members) to 21 clubs (with over 2400 family members). He has created or chaired numerous programs and projects whose success can be attributed to Stan’s initiative and guidance. These successes include trail development, youth programs and promotions, trail signing, charity events, club development and trail grooming projects. Stan has given freely and without hesitation his time and talents to represent snowmobilers on the local, provincial and international levels. His vision built SANS and he continues to provide the leadership and dynamic vision that leads the organization. Stan was a founding member of the Nova Scotia Trails Federation, initiated the SANS User Pay Trail Permit System, was instrumental in helping set up the Off-Highway Vehicle Infrastructure Fund and created the Geomapix GPS Trail Map. In 2012, Stan received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal and, in 2014, was presented the Nova Scotia Trails White Hills Summit Award for his outstanding contribution to trail development in the province. Stan’s passionate, yet humble, involvement in organized snowmobiling on the local to international level demonstrates the driving force he has been in the development of the sport. It now has earned him induction into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame.

Bobby Unser of Chama, New Mexico

Bobby Unser

Bobby Unser

As a three-time winner of the famed Indianapolis 500 auto race, Bobby Unser is primarily known for his achievements in auto racing but in the snowmobile industry, he is known as the original inventor of the independent front suspension (IFS) now used by all manufacturers. First introduced in 1972 on a Chaparral, Bobby wanted no money for his work, only full control of the design and development process. It was a unique design for snowmobiles, not a spin-off from automobiles, as it allowed for low motor placement and room for tuned exhaust pipes. When Chaparral went out of business, Polaris immediately took on the concept. Their 1977 RXL race sleds were a dominant force on the track due to their new IFS suspensions. By 1980, Polaris had IFS on consumer sleds and, by the 1990s, all manufacturers were using various designs of Bobby’s original concept. But he did not stop with just the IFS design; he also deserves credit for the development and implementation of the PAC ski shock absorbers, plastic skis and other innovations to make the snowmobiles a better product. Bobby is a die-hard snowmobiler and is always ready to appear at meetings and gatherings to lend a hand promoting the sport, sign autographs and enjoys meeting and socializing with other snowmobilers. A very creative designer and ever energetic gentleman of the sport, Bobby Unser is now being inducted into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame.

Editor’s Note: Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more — including our Used Sled Shopper department that features a unique sled that might be a good value for shoppers on the used market. Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door 6 times per year for a low cost.

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