Five snowmobiling heroes are being honored this weekend at two different locations across the Snowbelt.
In St. Germain, Wisconsin, four new members will be added to the Snowmobile Hall Of Fame: One dedicated designer of unique sleds who never gave up on his dream; a snocross racing superstar that helped change that facet of racing; a giant in the vintage snowmobile collecting community; and a drag racer with a never-say-die attitude.
Meanwhile, in Quebec, a very successful snowmobile racer from a famous family will be honored for his domination at the Grand Prix de Valcourt.
Hmmm … four in Wisconsin plus one in Quebec … four plus one equals … um… Hey, even with my Hopkins High School math, I can figure this out! It’s a perfect topic for this week’s Friday Fast Five here on snowgosite.wpengine.com.
- Bob Bracey – This Michigan-based designer and engineer was the brains and energy behind most U.S.-built cockpit-style sleds, dating back to the late 1960s. First, Bracey unveiled the Raider snowmobile that peaked at 20,000 units in 1970. The Manta snowmobile came next in 1974. He revived the Manta name for awhile in the 1980s, then tried again in the 1990s with the Trail Roamer. While each snowmobile featured a ride-in cockpit with a steering wheel and gas and brake pedals, plus twin tracks in the rear, they grew more advanced with each passing generation, as Bracey refused to give up on his passion. He died at age 66 in 2003, but his dream machines live on in the memories of many snowmobilers, and in the garages of some collectors.
- Blair Morgan – While “Air” Blair (also called Superman) was growing up riding sleds and dirt bikes in a small town in Saskatchewan, more fans of the emerging snowmobile snocross scene in the 1990s were looking to the Semi-Pro, Sport or Juniors classes for the next superstar. Then Morgan showed up in 1997 and jumped straight into the Pro class – and into the hearts of snowmobile race fans. Using his revolutionary-at-the-time stand-up riding style, big air finish line tricks and other incredible talents, he simply took over snocross racing, winning 89 National finals, 5 Winter X Games gold medals, 13 national points championships and multiple Snow Week Racer Of The Year awards. His career was cut short by a paralyzing 2008 motocross accident, but in his decade of racing, nobody did it better. Morgan is now 38.
John Zeglin – A lot of people collect sleds these days. But John Zeglin’s own love of this hobby led him to create the most successful vintage snowmobile event around – and that in turn allows many other people to share his passion. With the help of friends and other enthusiasts, Zeglin in 1993 launched the Midwest Ride-In – better known as the Waconia Ride-In held in Waconia, Minnesota. The all-volunteer, not-for-profit event has become a massive gathering for vintage enthusiasts, and Zeglin remains at the center of the action. Zeglin, of Delano, Minnesota, is 60.
- Norman Ball – When it comes to snowmobile drag racing – and sled racing on grass in particular – few people did it better than Norman Ball. The Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, native was the ultimate underdog for years – showing up with seemingly outdated Mercury Sno-Twisters and other hand-built mods (many using Cat motors later in his career) with a relatively underfinanced effort compared to some mod racers. But he took far, far more than his fair share of victories in dozens of classes. He was the SWDRA Driver Of The Year 16 times, he captured the Minnesota Cup at the Haydays Grass Drags three times, has 9 Minnesota Fast Time titles and even won the Michigan Cup. His racing career ended with a 1999 crash at Haydays that nearly took his life. So Ball, 62, doesn’t race anymore, but he remains active in the sport and builds engines for select racers.
- Terry Wahl – While all of those others are being inducted in the Hall Of Fame in Wisconsin, Terry Wahl will be in Ski-Doo’s hometown being honored for a storied career, which included many victories on both Ski-Doo and Polaris equipment. The son of master tuner Durmont Wahl and nephew of tuner and three-time World Champion Dave Wahl, Terry cut his own path by winning the Eagle River World Championship in 1998. They don’t care about that too much in Valcourt, Quebec, however. Instead, he is being honored for winning an incredible 5 straight Grand Prix de Valcourt titles from 1995-1999. He also claimed first place there in 2003 before retiring a few years later. One of the truly nicest guys in the sport, Wahl stays very involved in racing as a part of the Wahl Bros. Racing effort that currently features Jordan Wahl, Dustin Wahl and Brandon Anderson as drivers.