The snowmobile racing world lost another one of its fearless pioneers and innovators this week with the passing of Dale Cormican of Mentor, Minnesota, at the age of 77.
Cormican would race and build anything with a track and skis. He was a two-time winner of the old-school International 500 Winnipeg to St. Paul cross-country race, claiming victory in 1968 and then repeating in 1969, both times on an Arctic Cat. He was also famously piloted the turbine-powered Boss Cat to a then world speed record of 125.87 mph in 1000 feet in 1971 but was later in the next-generation Boss Cat sled when it exploded in Boonville, New York, in 1972.
Inducted into the racing-oriented Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 1977, he was renowned as “An innovator who displayed an intuitive feel for snowmobile performance,” according to his induction plaque. “Cormican developed engineering breakthroughs in the early 1970s including lightweight fabrication, rack steering and fuel injection.”
“Joining forces with John Deere in the mid-1970s,” the Hall of Fame induction paperwork continued, “Cormican worked on the original John Deere cross-country 340S model and later the Liquidator that won the International 500 in 1976 with Brian Nelson in the saddle. He also engineered a smaller Deere model called the ‘Little John’ (which became the Spitfire) that predicted direct-drive technology.”
His innovations continued for decades, including being the driving force behind the still popular C&A Pro Skis line.
Cormican will also likely be remembered by many who knew him for his at-times outsized personality. Often see wearing a huge belt buckle and western style hat, he was a unique character that often brought a different perspective to conversations.
According to his son Brandon’s Facebook page, Cormican suffered a stroke on Friday, July 9, and then passed away on the evening on Monday, July 12.