One of the meanest things any co-worker can ever do to me is to put me in a position to page through old snowmobile magazines. Usually it happens when we’re looking for a photo of an old sled for our Timeline department in Snow Goer, or looking for some fact about who won a certain race, or what year a certain product was introduced.
Why is that mean, you ask? Because it’s a trap for a guy like me. A 15-minute search for the right photo or image all to often leads to hours I usually don’t have paging through old magazines. Looking at the old stories and ads featuring the old sleds is just too intoxicating to walk away from.
This week’s culprit? Our Art Director Randy Kepner dropped five old magazines in my office after cleaning out a drawer in his office. I only made it two magazines deep before I realized I had better get back to the “day job,” but the magazines in question were the 1974 and 1976 Racing Yearbooks from the old SnoTrack Magazine.
The thing I found most entertaining this time was the names of the folks who collected trophies at the USSA World Series in those years. I mean, we’re talking 34 to 36 years ago, for cripes sake, at a time when I was 8 to 10 years old. But it was amazing how many of the names I recognized and how many of those people that are still involved in the snowmobile industry to this day. Let me give you some examples.
In 1974, the top four in SnoPro 650 were Herb Yancy, Larry Rugland, Dan Boothby and Jim Bernat. Watercross racers in the East still hang with the Yancy family, Larry Rugland builds dominating race sleds to this days and Jim Bernat worked at Polaris forever and was one of my favorite guys to see when traveling to Polaris events over the years. Want some more names? The top five in SnoPro 440 that year were: Ed Schubitzke, Dave Thompson, Gilles Villeneuve, Larry Coltom and Don Omdahl. Talk about a who’s who!
Even more fun for me was seeing some of the Junior class racers when they were teens, or even pre-teens. The 1976 yearbook features an image of a very young kid named Jeff Goodwin after he won Junior 1 – yes, the same Jeff Goodwin who is now the Ski-Doo race manager. For the record, he took the title on a Mercury that year. That same year a wavey-haired Allen Decker won Mod-Stock 250, while Todd Elmer claimed second in Junior 2 and Dean Schwartzwalter won Mod-Stock 340 ahead of Bobby Donahue.
The names in those issues were fascinating: Jim Dimmerman, Dick Trickle, Olav Aaen, Tim Berg, Stan and Doug Hayes, Brad Hulings, Wally Scheer, Steve Thorsen, Ron Hall, Lynn Trapp, Frans Rosenquist, Jacques Villeneuve, Sam Sessions, Charlie Lofton and others are now all legends in our sport for vaious reasons. Back then, they were young men or boys, chasing a dream on racetracks across the country.
Some say one of the best thing about snowmobiling is that it’s a family sport. That’s true, and even some people that aren’t related by blood have been a part of the snowmobiling family for a very long time.