I just returned from a great snowmobiing adventure in the Wisconsin Northwoods and in the U.P. of Michigan. Today is my son’s birthday. My beloved Green Bay Packers are playing the Super Bowl tomorrow. Today I got to watch really good coverage of the ultra-cool Soo I-500 endurance race online.
You might think that everything is great, but it’s not. I found out this morning that one of the best people in the snowmobile industry died this morning in a sled crash in North Dakota, leaving behind a wife, a son and a humongous group of people who consider him a friend, confidant and, in some cases, hero.
The story in the Grand Forks Herald describes Pat Mach merely as a “42-year-old man from Minto, North Dakota,” but to those who knew him, he was much, much more. In the case of the snowmobile industry, he was a one-man savior for cross-country racing, starting the United States Cross-Country (USCC) snowmobile racing association. With his leadership, USCC took a facet of the sport that was about to be written off and turned it into a powerful, rising star.
It was under Mach’s leadership that USCC brought us back the cross-country I-500, saved some races and invented new ones in the Upper Midwest, and even started a branch in the Northeast. Driver entries were up; consumer and market interest were up.
The best part? Mach did it while making a ton of friends. Whether it was those of us in the media, sponsors, racers or manufacturer officials, we all truly wanted to work with Pat, because Pat was such a great guy. Soft spoken, quick with a smile and truly in love with the sport, to say Pat was “one of the good guys” is almost too much of a cliché.
It’s sometimes easy to make overbroad statements about people who have recently passed, glossing up the good sides of a person’s personality, but this isn’t one of those cases. Pat truly was one of the most popular, friendly, welcoming and well-liked people in the snowmobile industry, and he will be very sadly missed.
Godspeed, our friend, we know you’re in a better place right now, but ours is quite a bit sadder without you.