Two oval racing stars, a cross-country racing legend and an immensely successful drag racer will be inducted into the competition-focused Snowmobile Hall of Fame this coming winter after being selected from a talented group of 10 finalists.
John Faeo, Dale Loritz, Craig Marchbank and Brian Sturgeon were already legends to those from followed snowmobile racing from the 1980s through the early 2000s, dominating key events and weekly showdowns in their facets of the sport. But now their accomplishments will be formally recognized at the Snowmobile Hall of Fame Museum in St. Germain, Wisconsin. The induction ceremony is traditionally held each February in conjuntion with the Ride With The Champs.
Let’s take a closer look at each honoree who makes up the 2021 Snowmobile Hall of Fame class, in alphabetical order.
Competing in what is almost beyond-argument the most grueling annual snowmobile race, John Faeo didn’t just eek out a victory here and luck into a win there. Instead, he won the 2000-mile Iron Dog that crosses the Alaskan outback an incredible seven times – including six victories between 1984 and 1991 and then another in 1996. He earned the 1984 race when teamed with Rod Frank; the 1986, 1987 and 1988 races with Dan Zipay; and the 1990, 1991 and 1996 races with Bob Gilman. All were aboard Polaris sleds except for the 1990 event, when he and Gilman rode Yamahas.
Faeo was more than a one-trick pony, however. He also was the nine-time champion on the Alaska Motor Mushers XC circuit, a six-time winner at the Talkeetna-to-Anchorage XC event and an 11-time Alaska Calcutta 120 cross-country event.
Hailing from Green Bay, Wisconsin, Dale Loritz established himself as a consistent winner and class champion early in his career on ice oval tracks throughout the Upper Midwest and beyond. Over his illustrious career, he won 14 USSA class championships and was the USSA and Snow Week Driver of the Year for a particularly dominating season in 1989.
In 1994, he broke through with the one title that was missing when he won his first Eagle River World Championship in grand fashion on his No. 67 Ski-Doo twin tracker. If that wasn’t enough, he came back and did the same thing in 1995, becoming the first repeat winner at the W.C. since Steve Thorsen accomplished the task in 1977-78. Over his career, Lortiz qualified for the World Championship 18 times and was a two-time “Sportsman of the Year.”
When it came to drag racing in the 1990s and 2000s, one thing was sure: If a trailer packed full of No. 00 Ski-Doo snowmobiles from New Lennox, Illinois, showed up at an event, that trailer would be leaving with a majority of the Pro Stock and Improved Stock trophies and dollars by the end of the weekend!
Craig Marchbank was a dominating force in grass and ice drag racing. Over an incredible career that occurred during straight-line racing’s glory years, he earned 2200 individual class victories, 26 High Point championships in Pro Stock and 24 in Improved Stock, breaking thousands of competitor’s hearts along the way. Nine times he won the Minnesota Cup for being the most dominant racer at the massive Hay Days Grass Drags, and he earned three Wisconsin Cup championships as well. For the 2004-05 season, he was named the Snow Week Racer of the Year after earning 77 victories on the grass, sometimes showing up with up to 13 machines to take on the competition in 15 different classes!
Marchbank is now a co-owner of the Derby Complex in Eagle River, the president of the Snowmobile Hall of Fame and is known for his incredible collection of old Ski-Doos.
The same year that Loritz won his second World Championship title at Eagle River, Brian Sturgeon earned his long-sought first Formula III championship on the same track on his blazing fast No. 30 Arctic Cat.
Aside from that legendary victory, Sturgeon was also a crushing force in oval racing’s undercard for a number of years. In fact, in the same 1994-95 season when he earned the F-III title, he was undefeated in 17 race events in Stock A and Stock B and won 7 of 9 finals in Stock C – and incredible 92.3 percent winning percentage in highly competitive classes, which led to Snow Week Racer of the Year honors.
Over his career he won nine USSA high point season championships and 12 class championships at Eagle River. Sturgeon also branched out – winning individual snocross and ice lemans events and running strong in enduro racing for many years before retiring and later becoming the Team Arctic race manager.
Snowmobile racing fans and enthusiasts are invited to the 38th Annual Ride with The Champs and induction ceremony weekend, presented by Livingston’s Arctic Cat, February 12-13, 2021. The expanded two-day event features guest speakers, vintage and modern trail riding opportunities, a meet-and-greet with past and current SHOF inductees along with other snowmobile industry celebrities, and a formal induction ceremony with dinner. In addition, the Snowmobile Hall of Fame Museum will be open throughout the weekend. Learn more details on the complete weekend schedule and purchase advance tickets at www.snowmobilehalloffame.com.