The Old Snowmobile Photo Search From Hell

Once a month, longtime contributor David Wells tries to kill me.

            Not on purpose (I don’t think?!). Wells is a very nice, well-intentioned guy who would never intentionally cause me bodily hard (probably).

            The problem? Wells writes our Timeline articles for each issue of Snow Goer, and does a hell of a job with the assignment. He decides on all of the sleds we feature, does a ton of research, calls upon his own vast knowledge and background in the sport and even sometimes interviews folks who either owned the machines or sold them at their dealership.

            It’s one of many reasons Dave is such an important part of our extended family here at Snow Goer.

            Every summer, he submits his stories basically ready for print. Then, when an issue of Snow Goer is on deadline, I pull up one of his stories on my computer, make a few tiny edits to them and get them ready for our art department.

            This is where the danger comes in.

            You see, our offices are a treasure trove of snowmobiling history. Actually, “unorganized heap of stuff” may be a better description. We’ve got back issues of Snow Goer going back to 1966, back issues of Snowmobile Magazine, SnowTrack, Snow Week, Invitation To Snowmobiling and other titles. We’ve got drawers and filled with testing information. Boxes of slides and negatives. Stacks of old sales brochures. It’s awesome – until you are looking for one exact thing, then it’s a freaking disaster.

            So, once a month between July and December, you can find me cursing in our back room. I’ll be standing on top of swiveling office chairs or hanging from the corner of our racks in our storage area, looking for that one photo that will properly illustrates Dave’s great story.

            Today’s mission: Find an images of a 1974 Mercury 440 Max. I’ve found a black-and-white photo of the sled in action in a fall 1973 copy of Snow Goer. I’ve found spec sheets and notes about the machine. I’ve found old ads for the sled that feature just the corner of the machine. And I’ve found plenty of images of the 1973 Max (noted by the headlight covers) and the 1975 Max (with the three-color graphics on the side). But do you think I can find a 1974? Hell no.

            Beyond that, once I start going through old boxes in the back room, I get distracted by stuff I don’t have time to look at while on deadline. This morning, I spent a half-hour trying to interpret dyno sheets created by a then-new Massey Ferguson Cyclone – for no apparent reason other than I’m easily sucked into such things.  

            For 12 years, since we moved into our current building, I’ve made an annual pledge to myself that I’m going to find some a week some spring and organize our back room. Has it gotten done? Of course not.

            So, if you’ve got a picture of the “Black Max,” as it was called, let me know. If not, come look for me in the backroom – I’ll be the one covered with dust and spiderwebs, paging through a 30-year-old magazine and cursing poor David Wells’ name!

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