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A Quick December Trip to Arctic Cat


I was at Arctic Cat a few days ago, doing some research and gathering info for some stories I'm working on.

Sun dogs at Arctic Cat

Sun dogs barking at the break of dawn.


Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls

Every season gives its unique feel to the company. In the spring , there's a typical buzz that comes with warmer temps and the shedding of jackets. In the summer, I'm always pumped to see ATVs ripping around the Arctic Cat test track. Summer also has a certain "relaxed" feel at Cat.

When fall starts announcing itself, I detect an uptick in intensity. People start working double-time on projects whose deadlines are soon-to-come. Of course, there's always talk of hunting and what speculation surrounds the first, upcoming races.

The first peek at winter brings a special magic to the company who has produced snowmobiles for nearly 50 years. Tracks in the ditch outside of the plant speak to many possibilities. The air is electric with anticipation. And hope.

Last week saw a good 10-inches of fresh snow and the wonders of winter in full-swing. Snow was piled high in the parking lot.

Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls

Two sleds had been ridden into work this day. One was this ZR580.

'81 el tigre parked outside of Arctic Cat

The other, a 1981 el tigre. Both brought a smile to my face.


Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls

The billboard commemorating the 1 Millionth Arctic Cat snowmobile seemed to blend with the accumulated snow, as if the rider were real. Cool.


2011 F8 EXTs rolling off the assembly line at Arctic Cat

Inside, 2011 Arctic Cat F8 EXTs were rolling off the assembly line. The warm hum of machinery, tools and people reverberated through the building. This process of producing has an energy that always invigorates me. Whenever I see the sleds and ATVs on their respective lines, I know that somewhere there awaits a rider who will experience incredible joy when they take delivery of their toy.


Arctic Cat Prowler HDX models on the assembly line

Those anticipations and connections are what have made this company so important to me, and perhaps to you. There might be an exception or two, but everyone that I know at Arctic Cat understands PERFECTLY what it is to love a snowmobile or an ATV.


2011 F8 EXTs rolling off the assembly line at Arctic Cat

Most of these people grew up dreaming of these machines, and have the same passion that all of us share.


Joey Hallstrom shows a childhood drawing

Here, snowmobile product manager Joey Hallstrom shows a drawing he created as a kid. That's a lifetime of loving snowmobiles for Hallstrom, and for hundreds of others who work here.

For now, that's all the photos I have that I can share. I'll be back in TRF in the next 10 days, and I'll get some more photos then.

Comments (19):

flintstone says:
12/7/2010 4:56:00 PM

it is always fun to get a peak inside the factory..thanks
Todd Ulschmid says:
12/7/2010 6:34:00 PM

You know... AC hasen't come out with an early release sled for quite sometime... 2007 Jaguar? There must be something in the pre-production 2012 stuff just bust'in to get out of the factory.... Something with a new 2012 EPA compliant mote... It's that time of year. Just say'in...
Premium says:
12/7/2010 7:26:00 PM

"Photos that I have that I can share."

Definitely something big going on...the anticipation is killing me!
John Sandberg says:
12/7/2010 7:55:00 PM

I have photos of Kdub, but they are incriminating and if I share them, I'm SOL. Then again, so is he...
Phil Molto says:
12/7/2010 8:53:00 PM

I had pizza with Joey at SnowShoot last year, and wow, talk about Cat passion! (The stories he told were just amazing!)
I love the shots of the employee sleds at the plant, especially the vintage Tigre! The folks at TFR live and breathe the products they make!
250 Tigger says:
12/7/2010 10:12:00 PM

I have been on two tours of the factory and the last one was during the VSCA
Vintage Nationals in May of 2009, the production line was not running and Joey Hallstrom gave the tour. He took us off the beating path and to areas not normally on tour. With out the head phones one could ask questions as we walked along, very cool tour.
Todd Ulschmid says:
12/8/2010 8:17:00 AM

I haven't been on a factory tour since I was about 7 or 8 yrs old.... I'd be up for a tour. How about an Arctic Insider tour group?
Brad says:
12/8/2010 9:31:00 AM

I heard there is a very cool 2012 "Show Sled" on the line right now, did you see it?
Mike F says:
12/8/2010 10:35:00 AM

Nice to see a bunch of snow on the ground in TRF. Just a little over a month until the I-500!
Dulpher says:
12/8/2010 10:49:00 AM

Show sled on the line? Looks to me from the story that they were building F8 EXTs.
Todd Wangen says:
12/8/2010 2:13:00 PM

Thanks again for the stories and photos. Cool to see pics of my model (F8 EXT) sled on the build line. Heading to the arrowhead this weekend to get my 1st ride on it!!

Keep up the good work John!!
flintstone says:
12/8/2010 10:30:00 PM

hate to say it but I just put a bunch of miles on a 2011 pro r 800 and cat better get to work...haven't had that much fun on a snowmobile since my 03 f7 sno pro days!!!as much as I love my 2008 f1000 sno pro it was refreshing tget back on a sled with spirit and comfort and power....
Brad says:
12/9/2010 9:09:00 AM

At the end of the build season, before the assembly line is done for the season, AC will build their production prototypes for next year so they can fully evaluate a production built sled. Its hard to get a tour when they have these on the line and I'm not surprised that John didn't comment 'cause Kdub is bigger than John....
Ryan Teach says:
12/9/2010 10:05:00 AM

Flintstone... so you didnt notice the HP? Or lack there of?

Arctic Cat "Share our Passion"... the pictures speak for themselves.
taperk600 says:
12/9/2010 11:17:00 AM

I "heard" the same thing as BRAD above... something a bit more "angular" with "distinctive headlights" ..... promo-run 2012 for magazines,etc to ride ? Protype for further testing ? Teaser run ...for "show only"..with NO GO ? Early Build ?? I like the last one personally......

The "all I can share" comment obviously means there is more going on ......
flintstone says:
12/10/2010 8:59:00 PM

ryan teach

I notice that my 03 f7 will out accelerate and consistently pull better top end speeds then my F10 ever could...

you lose the passion at the bar when your new ride isn't up to par
Ryan Teach says:
12/12/2010 9:33:00 PM

A "bar", plus a snowmobile is a good place to lose more than your passion. So you didnt notice the HP that has doomed the 800 Polaris motors?
Ted Hanson says:
11/10/2015 3:04:00 PM

Todd Wangen has an Arrow Head!!!!
Engleburt Humperdink says:
11/10/2015 3:07:00 PM

Acceleration pulls better

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