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A Sort-Of Arctic Cat Xmas Party at the Zedshed


(12/19/2012)

A couple months ago, a guy who visits this site named Brian invited me to see the Zedshed Collection of classic Arctic Cat snowmobiles and meet its owner, Rich Pederson. The only thing I knew about the Zedshed was what I saw on this post HERE. We set a date in December and I patiently waited.

As the date neared, Brian emailed with the message that a few other people would be at the Zedshed that night. Awesome, I thought, the more, the merrier!

Perhaps I should have had an inkling that this night would be more than just a tour of a collection when, a couple nights before the get-together, Jim Dimmerman called and suggested that I join him and his son Jimmy for the drive there.

"How did you know I was going to the Zedshed," I asked.

"A friend of the owner told me there was a little party and that you were coming," replied Dimmerman.

Three days later the Dimmerman Duo and I met up for the drive to the Zedshed, during which the elder Jim added some background info on the Zedshed:

It was just outside of New Richmond, Wis. The shed itself was an old dairy barn. The owner's name is Rich Pederson who, Dimmerman explained, was nice guy who had a lot of really great Arctic Cat race sleds. Dimmerman said that Rich might even own one of Jim's actual race sleds from his time on Factory Team Arctic Sno Pro squad.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

It was dark when we arrived at the Zedshed, but the exhaust pipe-shadows cast onto the window of one of the farm's buildings hinted at the coolness in store for the evening.

We walked inside to find a nice gathering of a couple dozen people, most of them new faces to me. After handshakes, greetings and the cracking-open of some beverages, we wandered into the main room of the Zedshed and...Behold!

 

The amazing collection of Arctic Cats at the Zedshed. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

A feast for any vintage Cat lover's eyes!

There were sleds along the walls, on racks and even hanging from the ceiling. Posters and signs hung on the walls. And, though it seemed out of place for what appeared to be a museum, I thought that I detected the smell of 2-stroke combustion.

And the whole scene was blanketed a warm green glow illuminating from the various neon.

Yep, we'd definitely come to the right place.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Not long after we'd arrived the various clusters of conversation coalesced into one as we all listened to Rich Pederson (middle, hand on the seat) calmly answer questions about himself and his collection.

He grew up riding Arctic Cats in the 1970s and, like so many who experienced that era, Rich was enamored with Z and Sno Pro models built for oval racing. Their sensational styling and success on the racetrack mixed with his passion for the brand to produce a most-powerful desire.

It was 1981 when Rich bought his first Z (a 1977 250), soon followed by 1973 el Tigre equipped with a Z 440 engine.

Rich and his friends were soon drag racing his growing collection of vintage Arctic Cats, except he wasn't collecting and they weren't yet "vintage."

"We weren't collecting these sleds, we were racing them," he explained. "Plus, a mid-'70s Z wasn't considered vintage in the early 1980s. They were still pretty new."

"And affordable," he added.

Rich kept drag racing and accumulating. Then in 1995 he sold everything except one 1977 250 Z.

"I needed a break from it all."

The break didn't last long. In 1997 he started again, but this time he was collecting more so than racing.

Along with a host of friends like Jim Soderquist, Jeff Holldorf, Toby Houston and others, Rich travelled far and wide; sometimes buying individual sleds and other times buying entire inventories of Arctic Cat dealers who had closed their doors.

And that's what they've been doing for the past 15 years.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Not surprisingly, Rich and crew reestablished his fleet of 1977 Arctic Cat Z racers! 250s, 340s, 440s in the kind of "perfect" condition where they appear to have been run recently.

 

The amazing collection of Arctic Cats at the Zedshed. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

In fact, it was the model name Z that would ultimately spawn the Zedshed name.

As the story goes, many years ago while working in his shed on some Zs with friends, Rich received a phone call inquiring about buying some parts. The stranger on the other end of the phone kept referring to "zeds."

Confused, Rich replied that he didn't have any zeds or parts for zeds. He didn't even know what a zed was?

Returning to his shed, Rich relayed the story to his friends, wondering aloud what heck a "zed" was while speculating about the intelligence of the caller.

"Everyone in the room immediately burst into laughter," recalled Rich, "That was when I learned that Canadians pronounce the letter Z as 'zed.'"

"So we started calling this whole operation the Zedshed."

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

That and other great stories flowed through the Zedshed, made all the better by the fact that we were among some of the most iconic machines in Arctic Cat's storied history.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Turf Tigers, EXTs...

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

...King Kats...

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

... a Model 100, Tucker Hibbert's 2003 Sno Pro race sled and more.

 

The amazing collection of Arctic Cats at the Zedshed. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Like most large-scale collectors, Rich has accumulated more than just machines. His inventory of parts resembles an Arctic Cat dealership.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Bin after bin of Arctic Cat parts.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

You never know when you might need an extra set of carbs for your 800 King Kat.

 

The amazing collection of Arctic Cats at the Zedshed. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Or an original Arctic Cat minibike.

 

The amazing collection of Arctic Cats at the Zedshed. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

The many black-and-purple Arctic Enterprises logos stand out among the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of NOS parts.

 

The amazing collection of Arctic Cats at the Zedshed. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

What, no Wankel drawer?!?

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

When Rich mentioned that he had sleds and parts tucked away in other buildings and basements, I begged and pleaded for a quick look. 

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

The possibilites seemed almost endless.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Rich figures that, in addition to the 30-plus sleds that are on display in the main room at the Zedshed, he has another 20 or so projects that are in need of completion.

In fact, he's no longer actively accumulating machines; rather his focus is now to complete those remaining 20.

 

Arctic Cat Sno Pro and Panther at Zedshed

One such project is this 1981 Sno Pro oval racer.

 

Arctic Cat Sno Pro and Panther at Zedshed

As well this Panther.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

As an Arctic Cat drag racer, Rich has/had a very strong connection to the Neuman family of Cat drag racer/builders. This is custom opposed two-cylinder that Clayton Neuman fabricated. Amazing.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

One of the great discoveries for me that evening was listening to Rich talk about the great people he's met in the vintage hobby, particularly those who he's sold-bought-sold the same sleds with over and over again.

"Every month we have a mortgage payment, so sometimes I have to sell a sled to a friend or another collector," says Rich. "But many times I end up buying back that same machine. I've owned some sleds three or four times."

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

And so the party gently unfolded throughout the evening, with dozens of conversations about everything Arctic Cat.

 

The Zedshed (sort-of) Christmas Party. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Get a bunch of racers together and of course the conversation will be about racing. Here engine builder Keith Badour (L) chats with Rich and Team Arctic vintage champ Mike Smith (R).

 

Jimmy and Jim Dimmerman at the Zedshed. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

And there were many smiles as stories were told, like those shared between Jim Dimmerman (R) and his son Jimmy.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Punctuating these conversations were the occasional bursts of life from an engine that was started. 

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

One of the many highlight that evening was when Andy Berends fired up the four cylinder King Kat 800. It was the first time I'd ever heard one in-person, and the sound was intoxicatingly beautiful.

 

The Zedshed classic Arctic Cat vintage sled collection. Photo: ArcticInsider.com

Great as it was to see, hear and sit on so many amazing Arctic Cat snowmobiles, the real treat this December night at the Zedshed was the people.

Here was a group of Arctic Cat riders that are as passionate as they are kind, who gathered together to share stories of past adventures while making plans for future ones.

When I think back on that evening at the Zedshed, I realize that it was a Christmas of sorts: It began full of anticipation and excitement; transitioned to the opening of presents (in this case, the seeing/hearing/sitting on sleds); before settling in to the relaxed, relationship-portion of the evening when everyone just shared and talked with one another in fellowship.

It's that last portion of Christmas that I enjoy the most, and it's what I was most grateful for during my experience at the Zedshed.

 

Linda & Rich Pederson, owners of the Zedshed

I want to thank Rich and his wife Linda for hosting truly meaningful, enjoyable Christmas party. You were wonderfully generous to open your barn to a flock of Arctic Cat sheep, to give us the gift of friendship and joy.

Thanks for reading.



Comments (24):

Brian Bolier says:
12/20/2012 1:22:00 PM

The event was great and your article memorializes it perfectly!
Stephen Knox says:
12/20/2012 3:41:00 PM

That's my kind of Christmas party!
Rob Vrieze says:
12/20/2012 4:09:00 PM

Congrats Rich! What an amazing job you've done. Had a great time hearing all the stories and meeting the guys from Cat. Good luck with the rest of your projects. See you next year.
sparky says:
12/20/2012 5:14:00 PM

Wonderfully GREAT!!!!!!


GREGG says:
12/20/2012 5:15:00 PM

JUST AWSOME IS ALL THAT I CAN SAY!! What a find. Thanks John
Eric Bergstrom says:
12/20/2012 5:43:00 PM

Great story John... looks like fun! I've seen Rich around at different vintage events in the past, and I never would have known he had a collection of that magnitude.

I wonder if that 4 cylinder King Kat is the one I saw cruising around Lake Waconia a couple years ago? I remember thinking then how impressed I was to see one running and moving across the snow (which was a first for me as well).

I really appreciate it when people aren't afraid to use their collectible machines... the sights, sounds, and smells of a running vintage machine really add to the cool factor.

Sweet sleds and a fun story. Thanks for sharing.
Shawn Randall says:
12/20/2012 6:48:00 PM

Wow thats awesome, wish I could have been there to see that.
I bleed green says:
12/20/2012 7:54:00 PM

Can anyone telll me what the opposed twin spirit engine is from? Details?
Kelly & Tiffany George says:
12/20/2012 7:58:00 PM

Thank you Rich and the rest of the Zedshed Team for inviting us out to share in this incredible moment with you! Congratulations and keep up the good work!
Steven K LePinnet says:
12/20/2012 8:41:00 PM

John- thank you every much for sharing this event. Now i can show my wife i'm not the only one with an ARCTIC CAT room. I'm very greatful for the people like you and Mr. Knoxs who share there arctic lives with us.
Tom Rowland says:
12/21/2012 5:27:00 AM

Wow...I like everything about the Zedshed! What a vast, deep collection of interesting sleds. I would need to be dragged out of a place like that so the hosts could shut off the lights at the end of the day. Thanks for opening your doors Rich...nice collection!
Andy Berends says:
12/21/2012 7:53:00 AM

Congratulations Rich!! thank you for sharing your collection with me it is truly a pleasure to work on these sleds and work with you one never knows what the next project is or what you dream up but I always know it will be a blast. Glad to part of this wonderful family can't wait to see what the new year brings to the ZEDSHED. It was great to get to meet you John and the Dimmerman duo thanks for coming out!!
hugh says:
12/21/2012 8:54:00 AM

The opposed motor came from this man.

http://www.snowmobilehalloffame.com/neuman.htm
Todd Ulschmid says:
12/21/2012 10:00:00 AM

Freaking AWESOME!
Mike F says:
12/21/2012 10:40:00 AM

There are few things more enjoyable than getting together with a few friends and having a cool beverage or two in somebodies shop/garage. Holy smoke! What a cool setup! Thank you for sharing your collection with us! Really cool stuff!
Bob says:
12/21/2012 11:23:00 AM

i have only one thing to say.......................................


ROAD TRIP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Bob says:
12/21/2012 11:26:00 AM

Can you ride a sled into this place over the winter? Would GLADLY pay a LARGE admission fee to see this!!! Absoloutely UNBELIEVABLE.
Todd Houston says:
12/21/2012 4:48:00 PM

I think I saw one of Toby Houston's sleds..... :)
Josh Berends says:
12/22/2012 1:34:00 AM

What a great story! I've been to the ZEDSHED on mulitple occasions and always have a blast! Truly an awesome place. Rich is a great guy and I cant wait wait to see what is in store for the future of the ZEDSHED
mark hazzard says:
12/25/2012 10:45:00 AM

Amazing and wonderful collection. Neat to see the Cat freighter in the first picture. I have an original one also. Thanks to the owners and John for sharing these Cat treasures. Merry Christmas to all.
Wany says:
1/24/2013 12:27:00 AM

Essays like this are so important to broadening people's hiorzons.
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Bob Zollo says:
12/17/2016 10:25:00 PM

Looking for an ole el tigre Z, 1975 440 or 250 factory sled. Any ideas where I might find one?
Thanks,
Bobby Z

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