Two honorees in the racing-focused Snowmobile Hall of Fame passed away recently, each leaving behind countless fans and many interesting stories, in our sport and beyond.
News came last Friday on the passing of speed run great Marlyn Englert of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota. He was 85. Inducted into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 2020, Englert already had a deep background in NHRA car racing before discovering snowmobiling.
During an illustrious career first as a competitor and later as a designer and crew chief, he amassed 45 NSSR World Records in various mod classes, including 76 first-place runs.
His 2020 Hall of Fame documentation states, “Although he was a driver at heart, Englert’s greatest achievements were his innovation, fabrication and tuning skills on speed machines. As a competitor, his sportsmanship and willingness to help other racers gained him the respect of the entire snowmobile racing community.” You can read the full Hall of Fame induction information here.
In Wisconsin, famed television personality and 2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame inductee Mark Zelich passed away on October 12 at the age of 95.
As a broadcaster, Zelich never took to the track but his contributions to the sport of snowmobile racing were massive nonetheless. Among other things, he is credited with suggesting that the Eagle River event call itself the World Championship way back in the 1960s. Early and continuous coverage he gave the sport are often cited for eventually leading to national exposure.
“Likely the first television personality to dedicate regular attention on snowmobile competition, Mark Zelich of Wausau, Wisconsin brought the captivating race images and stories of the Wisconsin Northwoods into the living rooms and imaginations of viewers,” his Snowmobile Hall of Fame paperwork says. “His weekly coverage of snowmobile racing helped grow the fledgling sport of snowmobile racing from local community contests in the mid-1960s to nationally televised sports events.”
Both of these gentlemen had a reach in other markets as well. Englert is also being remembered in the hot rod car world in the Upper Midwest. Meanwhile, many folks in central Wisconsin mourned the passing of Zelich. He had a long and popular broadcasting career that led to his inclusion in the Wisconsin Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
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