20-Year Flashback: Blair Morgan Signs With Ski-Doo

With the 2021 Haydays fast approaching, we had reason to go back 20 years to check the big headlines in Snow Week magazine — “the snowmobile racing authority” at the time — to see what was shaking in the Haydays issue in 2001.

The issue includes copious amounts of coverage of the Haydays Grass Drags, where Greg Catrabone led a strong Polaris effort in the Stock classes, Chris Anderson took the two big-money Improved Stock classes, five different drivers divided up the five Pro Stock classes and Dean Schroeder won six classes in the Mod divisions. There are also big stories in the issue on the rain-drenched grass drags at Fenwick, Ontario, that year, plus coverage of Mike Knapp’s big NHRA Asphalt Shootout win on his Yamaha.

Some of the biggest news at Haydays that year happened off the track, however — including two big pieces from Ski-Doo. One was very impactful long-term; the other? Not so much. Let’s take them one at a time, word-for-word from Snow Week’s Holeshots section. (We’ve got exactly three copies left of the issue for sales on the Snow Goer store, if you want your own copy of the entire issue.) Both brief writeups includes type hyperbole from Ski-Doo that was later disproved or modified:

Morgan Signs With Ski-Doo

After months of rumors and speculation, Blair Morgan finally inked a deal — with Ski-Doo. After spending four seasons riding for Team Arctic Cat Canada, Morgan is now a part of Team Yellow.

Morgan signed a two-year deal with the Valcourt, Quebec, company. Details of the agreement weren’t released. However, Morgan isn’t the only one to make a move. Joining Morgan is Jamie Anseeuw, who brought Morgan onto the scene in 1997. Anseeuw is the race team manager. Also, Carl Kuster, Morgan’s teammate on Arctic Cat, is now his teammate on Ski-Doo. Winter X Games Hillcross silver medalist Vincent Clark also made the move from Cat to Ski-Doo.

Morgan now has his own independent team dubbed Ski-Doo’s Blair Morgan Racing Team. They have yet to sign a major sponsor for the team, according to those close to Morgan. However, sources have said that Fox clothing has money on the table to be a major sponsor for Morgan’s team.

Ski-Doo also unveiled its X Team the day before Haydays. Back are super teams Warnert Racing and Scheuring Speed Sports/Team Amsoil. Todd Wolff is Warnert’s lead racer and will ride the Bud Light sled this season. Also on Warnert Racing this season are Brad Pitlik, Curt Peterson and Jeff Fullerton. Finnish snocross racer Tomi Ahmsalo, the current European champion, also joins Warnert this season. Ahmasalo will race the full World Snowmobile Association Snocross Worldwide Championship season.

D.J. Eckstrom and Justin Tate return to Scheuring Speed Sports/Team Amsoil.

Doo’s Four Stroke Foray

Ski-Doo has jumped onto the four-stroke ship with the introduction of its V-1000.

The machine is in the prototype stage, but Ski-Doo officials said they want to have consumer sleds for the 2003 model year. It will likely come in the ZX chassis on a Grand Touring, Legend and utility model.

“We specifically designed this as a snowmobile engine,” said Mihai Rasidescu, vice president of engineering for snowmobiles, watercraft and ATVs. “It’s not retrofitted from another application.”

The snowmobile features a special-built Rotax 4-Tech V-configuration engine. It’s a part of a four-stroke engine series that Bombardier has also used in its watercraft and ATVs.

The 1000cc engine features two cylinders with four valves per cylinders, overhead camshafts and EFI technology. The V is set at an 80 degree angle, which Rasidescu said eliminates the need for a counterbalancing shaft. This, he said, creates a compact crankcase and a weight savings. The clutch shifts out at 7500 rpm, higher than that of the current four-stroke snowmobiles.

Ski-Doo officials compared the machine’s output to a 500cc liquid cooled two-stroke, but notes that was likely on the low end. While officials did not release horsepower data, they claimed it’s more powerful than the other four-strokes on the market. Moreover, officials said their data shows the engine has an 80 percent decrease in hydrocarbons and a fuel economy increase of 30 percent over a comparable two-stroke.

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