Snowmobiling heroes come in many shapes and sizes, as is evidenced by the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame Class of 2021, which was announced on June 25.
This year’s class – which will be formally inducted at a ceremony Sept. 18 in Eagle River Wisconsin – includes people who made their marks in the sport in very different ways. From grass roots activists to early explorers, publishers to historians, these honorees each found a way to reflect their incredible commitment to the sport.
Henry & Peggy Hartman, Hanover, Pennsylvania – Publishers and Journalists
Henry and Peggy Hartman were the Editors and Publishers of the “Keystone Snowmobiler” for 30 years (1989-2019), a newspaper which served as the official publication of the Pennsylvania State Snowmobile Association (PSSA). The Keystone Snowmobiler was the only known publication of its kind to be printed and mailed all 12 months of the year. The Hartmans thrived on enthusiastically promoting snowmobiling as a safe, fun and family oriented sport for all to enjoy! Henry, also well known for his strong mechanical abilities, took ownership of a long existing Polaris dealership in Hanover from 1985 to 1997. These were the “Indy” years. Henry and Peggy sold and serviced machines in southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland.
Henry and Peggy both participated in organized snowmobiling, on local, state and national levels. Their hometown club, Pigeon Hills Snowmobile Club, is where Henry served several terms as President and Peggy as Secretary. The Pigeon Hills Club, along with the Hartmans, had their annual fundraiser, the Mason Dixon Snowmobile Grass Drags, for 20 years. Henry was very involved with the technical side of scoring the race sleds and Peggy helped run the food stand. This is just one example of how active Henry and Peggy were with the snowmobile clubs near their hometown.
On a state level, The Hartmans have been very active with PSSA in various roles beyond the newspaper. Henry served as Region 5 Director in the mid 1980s. Since 1996, Henry and Peggy have implemented the Used Sled Coral at the PSSA Fall Show. This proved to be a lucrative fundraiser which gave participants excellent opportunities to buy or sell their used sleds.
On a national level, the Hartmans covered news through the American Council of Snowmobile Associations (ACSA). They attended and cov ered stories of more than 20 International Snowmobile Congresses. They were also active members of the International Snowmobile Media Council.
Henry also has a long history of working with the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources on educating the youth on snowmobile safety. To this day, he is still a very active Snowmobile Safety Instructor spanning over 45 years. Henry has participated in teaching nearly 2000 students to ride safely and responsibly. Henry and Peggy’s commitment to snowmobiling went way beyond the publish ing business. Their very long and unwavering devotion to the sport is the reason they are being inducted into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame, Class of 2021.
Team Jim Langley and Clark Dahlin, Anoka/Cambridge, Minnesota – Explorers and Adventurers
Jim Langley and Clark Dahlin achieved a monumental journey like no other by completing a transcontinental snowmobile expedition starting in Vancouver, British Columbia and ending in Portland, Maine.
On November 28, 1966, they left the shores of the Pacific Ocean embarking on an adventure many said couldn’t be done. Two men on two 1967 Polaris Colts conquered a continent in 24 days and 4,018 miles where they literally drove their sleds in the icy shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Because interconnecting snowmobile trails were all but non-existent at the time, the route was destined to require extensive travel on roadways. Therefore, the machines were properly equipped for road travel, which meant extra headlights, windshield wipers, turn signals, seat belts and license plates were necessary. Also, wheel kits were added to the skis since much of the trip would lead them to no snow conditions. Weather also provided challenges, which were successfully overcome.
At first, during planning stages of this expedition, Allen Hetteen was reluctant. Polaris donated the sleds but did not fully sponsor for fear of bad publicity pending failure. However, once the two men reached Roseau, Minnesota after crossing the plains of Manitoba in 40 below winds chills, Jim Langley recalls Allen Hetteen pulling him aside telling him, “Jim, we’re on the right track!” The orders were coming in. Dealers were doubling their orders for new sleds. The positive publicity and exciting news coverage of these two men and their machines were paying off. Polaris sales soared and the first transcontinental trip by snowmobile was merely at its halfway point. The company was in the middle of an amazing comeback just one year after the terrible losses they had suffered from the Comet model recall.
This journey also deemed Jim & Clark the first to ever cross Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge on snowmobiles. Team Langley and Dahlin aver aged 168 miles per day. One day of the trip they logged 336 miles.
Their coast-to-coast expedition 55 years ago was truly a great feat for the early days of snowmobile development and for one manufacturer in particular. It is this amazing piece of snowmobile history that lands Jim Langley and Clark Dahlin squarely in the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame, Class of 2021.
Dave and Joann Smith, Mosinee, Wisconsin – Volunteers and Club Organizers
The Smiths bought their first snowmobiles as soon as they moved to Wisconsin Rapids in 1977. Excited to experience Wisconsin winters, they searched for places to ride and meet people to ride with. A year had gone by before they learned of a local snowmobile club, the Kellner Knights. The club was there yet seemingly hard to find even for folks like the Smiths, who were looking. Being that the club seemed hidden in plain sight, Dave and Joann made it their pet project to put together a grassroots public relations campaign that made the Kellner Knights front-and-center to any snowmobile enthusiast looking for a club to join.
It worked! In only two years the club’s membership grew from 35 to 150. Not long after, Dave was elected club president and AWSC Wood County Director. Joann became the club’s treasurer. Word got out and they were invited to do a presentation on their membership program at the International Snowmobile Congress.
Dave and Joann were recognized and respected in organized snowmobiling on a state, national and international level. Joann became the first woman vice president of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC). She served as V.P. for two years and continued to cham pion the importance of club membership. Her efforts did not go unnoticed. She joined Bombardier Corporation when they moved their offices to Wausau and became a Project Leader in public relations. She also served as the representative for Ski-Doo on the International Snow- mobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA) Public Relations Committee. It was a good fit, one that lasted 20 years and, although supposedly retired, Joann and Dave continue to work for BRP (Ski-Doo) as independent contractors managing photo and media shoots.
No matter how involved the Smiths were on a national level they remained grounded with the AWSC and their local snowmobile clubs. Dave was voted in as AWSC executive director for two years and then vice president for four years. He was the AWSC Director for Marathon County and Vice President of the Marathon County Snowmobile Council for several years. He served the Wausau Trailmates Snowmobile Club as vice president, being their race track chairman for their annual grass drags for more than 20 years and was also a groomer operator. Joann manages the Trailmates website and monthly newsletters.
Dave and Joann have literally been and still are involved in every level of snowmobile organizations. Their strong yet unassuming leadership qualities and devotion to snowmobiling are key reasons for the Smith’s long overdue induction into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame, Class of 2021.
Charlie and Marilyn Vallier, Naubinway, Michigan – Explorers and Adventurers
Charlie’s obsession with snowmobiling began when his dad purchased a Hus-Ski 444 snow machine for him and his seven siblings to ride. After high school Charlie went into the Army where he met Marilyn, who had never previously been around snowmobiles. In 1971, Charlie talked his dad into starting a Viking dealership.
His passion for snowmobiling was clearly contagious and Marilyn soon became acclimated to the sport as well. When Viking went out of business, they switched to a Scorpion dealership until Scorpion’s demise in the early 80s. With a strong passion for snowmobiles, Charlie was always finding and working on old sleds and became an active member of the Antique Snowmobile Club of America, where he serves as a director.
Charlie had gained a personal collection of over 200 sleds. This is where his dream of having his own museum began. Charlie and Marilyn first opened the Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum on July 4, 2007, from a rented building they remodeled that once was a laundromat. It wasn’t long before they filled that space and needed to relocate. They broke ground on a much larger new building at what is now their current location, highly visible on Highway 2 in Naubinway, Michigan. It opened in October 2013. They dedicate most of their time to the museum so it could be open to the public seven days a week. They quickly gained notoriety and the Top of the Lake Museum was recognized by Snow Goer Magazine as being among the Best snowmobile museums in North America. Currently the museum is home to 185 snowmobiles and countless snowmobile related items.
Charlie and Marilyn attend numerous vintage/antique snowmobile shows and swap meets throughout the Midwest. In order to raise funding for the museum, they sell many snowmobile-related items. Most popular is Charlie’s signature wooden snowmobile rockers that engrain the idea of snowmobiling to the youngest of toddlers.
Charlie and Marilyn have several organized events annually. One example, always keeping the youth in mind and exposed to snowmobiling, they have the “Ride Your Sled to School Day.” About 30 kids will ride their snowmobiles to school and when school lets out, Charlie leads them on a trail ride to the museum.
They have dedicated their lives not only to the preservation of snowmobile history but keeping the love for snowmobiles alive and fun. For this, Charlie and Marilyn Vallier are awarded induction in the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame, Class of 2021.