“I will never forget the first time I saw Blair Morgan race.”
These are words that I’ve heard spoken by innumerable fans and even other racers. So stunning was the sight of #7c that it was burned forever into the memory of those who saw him race.
I too will never forget the first time I saw Blair race. It was at the Duluth snocross in 1997. Instead of sitting, he stood on the running boards of his Arctic Cat ZR. He linked double-jump sequences unlike any snocross racer before him. He raced relaxed, almost like he was playing around, yet he was clearly the fastest man on the track. In one stunning weekend and during the seasons that followed, Blair Morgan redefined both snocross and the sport of snowmobiling.
Likewise, I will never forget hearing the news on Sept. 21, 2008, that Blair had broken his back while practicing at the Montreal supercross race and was paralyzed. It seemed impossible that anything could take down the man we called “Superman.”
And now, after interviewing Blair last week, I’m ever-grateful that my newest never-forget memory of the now-37-year-old Morgan is the genuine and graceful way he answered questions about his career, his life, his rivalries and his upcoming induction into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame.
AI: Let’s start with the immediate: Tell us what’s going on in your life these days. What are you doing with your time?
Morgan: I devote the majority of my time and energy to my kids, Corbin (12) and Breck (9). I get them up in morning, off to school and to the various after-school activities they have every day. Other than that, I sometimes help out with family farm. At this point in my life I don’t have a job.
(Long pause) For the past couple of years I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’ve observed other families and situations. I see some families where the parents don’t have much time for their kids. My kids are at such important ages as they transition to teenagers… I think that it’s really important to keep focusing on them. After they get older I can figure out what I’m going to do with my life.
So to answer the question of what I’m doing now: I don’t do anything. (Laughter)
Blair with his two kids at their home in Prince Albert, Sask. (Prince Albert Herald photo by Alex Di Pietro)
AI: (Laughing) No, you’re a full-time dad which, aside from the challenges, is also a huge blessing for you.
Morgan: Oh for sure. Racing was good for me financially. It enabled me to take this time and be with my kids. Of course without working now for four years, I’ve had to change our lifestyle and live within a strict budget. We don’t travel and we live a pretty contained lifestyle, but it’s what’s best for us.
Even if I hadn’t had the accident and become paralyzed, I wouldn’t have transitioned into a more normal job. I’d been a professional racer for more than a decade with the luxury of being home all week… there was no way I would could have jumped into a regular 9-to-5 job.
AI: When we talked the other day, you mentioned that you had just gotten back from a snowmobile ride. Tell me about that and the other kinds of activities and recreation you do these days.
Morgan: Yeah, we ride snowmobile all the time. This has been a good winter with lots of snow. So yeah, we go snowmobiling and I pull the kids on a sled. In the summer we ride the Yamaha Rhino side-by-side a lot, we go to the lake to swim and I also help coach a soccer team.
AI: I love that you still ride sleds! I’ll admit that I’m a little nervous to talk with you about your paralysis because I don’t want to offend you. However I want to know more about what it’s like for you? So where on your body are you paralyzed, and what movements do you have?
Morgan: I broke my T4, which is pretty high, about mid-back. There are different levels of this kind of thing: Mine is complete paralysis because I shattered my spine and severed my spinal cord.
I’m paraplegic, with no movement or feeling on my body below my nipples. I still have the complete movement of my arms, shoulders and neck. I have to use my arms so much now that they and my shoulders are big and strong. My digestive system still works fine, as do my diaphragm and lungs.
So I move around now via a regular, non-electric wheelchair. Right now I still have the original chair I got immediately after the accident in 2008. It’s a basic chair that has full adjustability and isn’t tricked-out or anything. It’s actually pretty beat up from getting dragged into and out of my truck so I need to get a new one, which will be a custom titanium chair.
AI: Are you one of those people who are crazy-fast with your chair?
Morgan: Sometimes. I’m crazy-fast getting into my truck and pulling the chair in after removing the wheels. I can do that in about 30 seconds, which is fast.
This has all been a huge learning process for me that I’m still figuring out. I get asked why I don’t do more, like exercising or doing certain activities. Well, I broke my right shoulder while I was still racing, so I have to be super careful not to reinjure my arms or shoulders now because I’d be screwed.
AI: For many of us in the snowmobile world who haven’t seen or talked to you much since the accident, there’s some fear or concern about confronting your paralysis. So, is it weird or uncomfortable to talk about it like we are right now?
Morgan: Not really. This has been my reality for a long time. The people here in Prince Albert are totally used to it. It’s just normal now. I sometimes forget that it still feels new to people who haven’t seen me or talked to me.
This has obviously been a long process to come to terms with, both for me and the people in my life. I’ve changed in a lot of ways, and many of them are for the better.
AI: Tell what you mean by that.
Morgan: My injury happened in September 2008. In the four years since then I’ve gotten divorced and my dad got Alzheimer’s to the point that he lives in a special home with constant care and doesn’t recognize us anymore. Those are three huge things and, in some ways, my injury was the least important of all.
(Pause) I went from sitting on top of the world to crashing down pretty hard. Over the past four years I’ve had a lot of time to think about my life and question the choices I’ve made. Looking back…(pause)… to be the kind of successful racer I was required me to be very selfish. I had to live completely focused on myself. But now I live for someone else: My two kids. Which is a change I’m thankful for.
The injury was a massive wake-up call that either forced or allowed me to think about everything that’s happened in life. And of course one big question I wrestle with is, was it worth it… meaning all my racing and selfish focus on that?
I had a great career, awesome experiences and was financially successful. But I’m also paralyzed.
Obviously the risks were there the whole time. I saw what happened when Jamie (Anseeuw, his friend and team manager) was paralyzed in 1999. I broke my own back in 2003. So I dodged bullets for a long time practicing and racing both motocross and snocross. And the whole time I was carefree, just loving the sports and never expecting to get injured like this. But eventually the averages caught up with me.
So some days I think that it wasn’t worth the sacrifice and wish I’d had a regular job, but other days I’m glad I made the choices that I did. In the end I think I’ll look back and be happy.
AI: That’s a really powerful, honest answer Blair. I appreciate you expressing that.
Morgan: Well, I’ve had a lot stuff happen that’s forced me to think about it.
AI: Okay, let me do a big set up for a question: You won 84 National snocross finals; 13 high-points championships; five ESPN X Games gold medals; and garnered Racer of the Year honors from both Snow Week and Snow Action magazines. You singlehandedly popularized stand-up riding, which was quickly adopted by other racers (then trail riders) leading to the eventual creation of snowmobiles for this style of riding. You literally changed the sport. Furthermore, you also launched the snowmobile freestyle scene by being the first to do Supermans, heel-clickers, nac-nacs and such over the finish line jumps.
Of all of those outstanding accomplishments, are there particular highlights for you?
Morgan: (Long pause) The early part of my career was probably the best for me… winning my first race in 1997, my first championship and then my first gold medal in 2001. Everything just happened so quickly and it was pretty cool.
I remember before I started racing, I was probably 14 years old. I would do laps and laps around my yard on my 1992 Prowler Special, pretending I was racing Kirk Hibbert. I would do that all the time. Then, it seemed like overnight, I was actually racing him. And when I beat him… it was just surreal, like I was dreaming.
So yeah, that early period of my career was definitely the highlight period and the most fun. By the time I was winning my 80th final, the newness had long ago worn off and it wasn’t so much fun.
AI: Talk about that tough side of racing because I’m not sure most of us race fans really understand it.
Morgan: It’s great to be a professional racer, but it’s also a curse. You have to give up your life to be a top-level rider. Everything is training, racing or traveling. For year after year. It’s not a very complete, rounded life.
People sometimes think that the victory lap is what being a professional racer is all about, but really that’s just a tiny fraction of it all. I always looked forward to race day, because that was the easiest day of the week. Both physically and mentally. All the work that went into getting there… that isn’t much fun.
AI: When I think of your competition and rivalries, it seems to me you had two: Chris Vincent during the early part of your career, then Tucker Hibbert after that. Tell me about the rivalry with Vincent, what you remember about it and whether it felt as explosive on the track as it looked to those of us watching.
Morgan: Obviously there were other guys I battled with… I can think of a lot of races against D.J. Ekstrom. But yeah, the big rivalry I had was with Chris Vincent.
My introduction to him was in Yellowstone in March 1997 at my first ever big snocross race. Jesse Strege was his teammate on Team Yamaha. Jesse was, and is, a super nice guy and was giving me a tour of the Yamaha big rig
We go inside and Chris is sitting there. All of sudden, Chris and Jesse start screaming and yelling at each other! It was crazy, and super weird. Then later that day I saw Chris on the on track, where he was just launching off jumps, totally landing into faces of other jumps, lap after lap. I kept wondering what the heck he was doing? Like, does he not know that he’s riding completely wrong? So that was my first introduction to Vincent.
The next fall, at the first race of the season in Sault St. Marie, he totally cleaned me out at the top of hill in a heat race. It broke the throttle off my sled. I had to pull on the throttle cable to run the engine in order to ride the sled down the hill and to the pits.
Well, just as I was pulling off the track, like half on the track and half off, I saw the leaders in our heat coming towards me, so I paused to see who was in front when all of the sudden WHAM!... he piled into the back of me! It was crazy.
Prior to the next heat race he comes up to me, puts me in a headlock and says, “This is what it’s going to be like between me and you.”
I had never experienced anyone like that before.
So yeah, all of that sort of set the stage for my rivalry with Chris.
AI: I don’t want to slam on Chris, but I’ll say this: I thought you two had an on-track rivalry, but not really a rivalry when it came to race results. You were a far better racer than he was.
Morgan: Yeah, I’d agree with that. It wasn’t like we battled for entire races. He always got great holeshots while I never did start very well. So our racing rivalry happened when I bumped him while passing him halfway through the race. That’s where the excitement occurred when we raced each other.
Here’s the thing about my feelings toward Chris: I didn’t hate the guy, I just didn’t like his on-track shenanigans. On the other hand, if I was going into an actual war battle, he’s the guy I would want next to me and fighting with me.
It’s hard to explain, but I think that all racers are sort of wired the same. We’re all more similar than we are different from each other.
AI: You had a different kind of rivalry with Tucker. Describe that.
Morgan: Oh for sure. Tucker and I were totally clean racing each other. First of all, we were teammates for the first couple of years. But even after that, we were always clean racing each other. I didn’t respect Vincent’s style of racing, but I completely respected the way Tucker raced.
He was my strongest competitor, that’s for sure. That one year, 2001, he and I won every single pro final the whole year. That was cool.
AI: What did you enjoy the most about racing snocross?
Morgan: Making a living doing something I loved. I really loved racing.
Winston Churchill made the great quote: “Once you find a job you love, you’ll never work again.” It’s true.
AI: Once your career ended, most of us didn’t see or hear much about you. I know that you’re a pretty private person… has there been anything in particular that has kept you away from snocross?
Morgan: Well, like said before, there were those three major changes in my life, in addition to being a dad.
I did go to a couple motocross races and…I wished I was still out there. I missed it so much. So I don’t want to be at races because I don’t like that feeling.
AI: That makes sense. How much do you keep track of snocross and motocross these days?
Morgan: I get the results via email. I talked to Robbie Malinoski after he won Duluth this season. I really wish that snocross was on TV here in Canada where I live. I have such crummy internet service that the online streaming doesn’t work so well.
I watch AMA Supercross a lot. I don’t follow Canadian supercross so much because I don’t know the racers too well.
I can’t wait for Anaheim-1. Everyone’s healthy, there’s probably seven guys who can win. My money is on Justin Barcia. I think Ryan Villopoto and James Stewart are fastest, but both have missed too much time to injury and I think they’ll be a bit rusty and make some mistakes. For sure Stewart will. I think Villopoto will win the championship though. He’s fast and in-control.
[Editor’s note: Like nearly everyone on planet supercross, Blair did not predict the eventual winner, Davi Millsaps. Oh well…]
AI: Okay, now a few not-so-serious questions... What’s your all-time favorite snowmobile?
Morgan: You’ll love this one… it’s my 1998 or 1999 ZR Mod sled with the Black Magic 678 motor. I LOVED that sled. It was a perfect sled. It reminded me of a motocross bike more than any other sled I raced. The motor was so awesome and snappy, and so well balanced with the sled. I owned and would still ride that sled until 2003, maybe even after that. I think I ended up selling the chassis to Robbie Malinoski.
Handling wise the old, original REV [below] was the best of all my race sleds, even better than new REV. But I liked the stocker the best because those Mod REVs with the 800s were too powerful. They had something like 180-hp which was insane.
AI: Are you more of an Arctic Cat guy, or a Ski-Doo guy?
Morgan: I’m a snowmobile guy. (Laughs)
Seriously, I love snowmobiles and I love both brands.
I used to get so much grief from Arctic Cat fans when I went to Ski-Doo. Arctic Cat has a special place in my heart in part because it was my first brand so to speak, but also becauseI always liked Cat growing up, even though we lived in Ski-Doo country where everybody called the sport ski-dooing.
I think career-wise that I timed it all good, being on Cat in the years when they were the best and then moving to Ski-Doo in 2002 when they became the best.
Now, it looks like they’re all pretty similar, like motocross bikes. Each has some different traits, but they’re all pretty even.
I liked racing for both companies as they each had a unique culture. Arctic Cat felt small and tight-knit, like a family, while Ski-Doo felt really big, almost like a government. It’s hard to explain… I felt more at home at Cat.
Blair Morgan unveils the first signature-edition Arctic Cat (the 2000 Blair Morgan Arctic Cat ZR 600) and the 7c line of Arcticwear at Hay Days in the fall of 1999. That's Blair taking a moment to wave to the camera.
AI: What snowmobiles do you currently own?
Morgan: I own a 2009 Ski-Doo 600 E-Tec, which we ride a lot; a 2000 Blair Morgan edition Arctic Cat ZR 600 that has 300 miles and that I don’t like being ridden because I want to preserve it; and finally, my last X Games-winning Ski-Doo Mod from 2006, with the bumblebee hood wrap.
AI: Congratulations on your upcoming induction into the Snowmobile Hall of Fame! What does that mean to you?
Morgan: It’s a big deal for me… I’m honored. I’ve been to the Hall seen the sleds and even given them two of my race sleds [see above]. I remember being there when Kirk Hibbert was inducted, which was really cool. So I’ve seen what it’s all about and its great history of the sport. I’m sure that once it’s all said and done that the whole situation will sink in a bit more and I’ll have an even greater sense of what it means. I’m excited for that weekend.
AI: Okay, I’ll end this interview with a request that I make of everyone: Tell me a good Roger Skime story.
Morgan: The last time I visited him there was an old poster of me on his wall. And on that I’d written to him that he was my hero. Well, when I visited him that day, he looked at me and said, “Blair, you’re MY hero.”
AI: Blair, you really are a hero to so many people! Thanks so much for doing this interview.
Morgan: You’re welcome.
This was literally Blair's introduction of himself at the 1997 Duluth Snocross national. It happened on the first day, when they had a brief driver introduction of sorts. I'm pretty sure it was the first time anyone had intentionally done a freestyle maneuver of this caliber on a snowmobile, and the crowd was in shock.
And hence why he earned the nickname "Superman."
Perhaps the biggest shock that weekend in Duluth came when we watched Blair stand up as he rode around the track, kicking everyone's butt in the process. Blair singlehandedly popularized stand-up riding, first for snocross and then for the entire sport.
As soon as the snowmobile media saw Blair at Duluth in 1997, he was the most popular photo subject by FAR. Everyone wanted to capture his magic.
Blair put his stamp of authority at Duluth in 1997, and immediately became a force that confounded all of his competitors.
Not only did Blair ride completely different than any other snowmobile racers at Duluth in 1997, he looked different. Yep, he was the complete package that turned the snowmobile world upside-down.
When the snocross tour hit Canterbury that same 1997-98 season, Blair was destroying the field and dropping all kinds of finishline maneuvers to the awe-struck crowd.
Blair at Canterbury, this time in 1999.
Yep, Blair was and is Superman.
Gerard Krempasky says:
1/7/2013 12:50:00 AM
Wow. Great article. Great interview. Blair your accident very unfortunate and I feel that you will never realize how far your reach has touched. God places the heaviest weight on the shoulders of those who can bear it. Unfortunately being at the top makes you susceptible to a great fall that happens only too often to the greats. In your case an unfortunate injury, however you have touched the lives of so many and have forever changed things for the better. You changed the sport for the better and you have made history and are a legend in the hearts of so many that is still spoken about daily. Very few who walk or have walked in life get to have such a large affect on this world and become heroes. That is the greatest thing one could ever accomplish when they leave this earth I feel. Whether it was being some young boys role model, some old timers conversation at the convenience store telling tales of watching you race or causing a revolution in the riding position we all ride on now.
You made your mark. Thank you 7c.
1/7/2013 1:13:00 AM
The thing i remember most I think he had just switched to Doo at Duluth. You could still stand and watch at the low end turn. So at the main jump the guys are jumping right at you. Night came and the pros came out for some hot laps was only like 3 guys out there with Morgan and track was fairly smooth with the jumps. He came flying around the track jumping and when he hit was no bounce like 80% of the guys bounced back then and used the speed off the jump and went even faster. Only went about 3 laps. Was a total stranger next to me after Morgan went by. I turned to the stranger he had the same look on his face as I was thinking. He just said Damm
1/7/2013 2:19:00 AM
No kidding. Must have been great to see in person.
John Zanon says:
1/7/2013 7:09:00 AM
John, this is your best article I've ever experienced! It's hard for a die hard Cat person watch great riders switch from Cat to another brand, but the world has been to silent to let this great man live alone. Blair deserves all the honor, plus a lot more. It sure is great that someone takes the time to interview and honor a man. Just wish the story had a happier ending for Blair with his personal life. A well deserved honor in the Hall of Fame!
1/7/2013 7:46:00 AM
kevin sebastian says:
1/7/2013 8:04:00 AM
What an amazing interview!! Thank you John and Blair for answering the many questions we the fans have had since your very unfortunate accident.I still smile when I think of the times we saw you race!! Congratulations on your Hall of Fame induction! God bless you and your kids in every way.
Jamie Bellman says:
1/7/2013 8:55:00 AM
Wonderful interview. Thank you Blair for taking the time. You influenced more people than you will ever realize.
Chad Colby says:
1/7/2013 9:32:00 AM
Perfect interview John, so many questions we have all been wanting to know. Blair, thanks for sharing & know you are a part of snowmobiling history!
Congrats on your WELL deserved Hall of Fame Induction!
Nick Lemire says:
1/7/2013 10:09:00 AM
Great article. You changed the game and made a ton of life lasting memories. I loved cheering for you and against you when you rode that Doo. Being a drag racer I know it's all about preparation. No one deserves to win but the hardest working usually do. I have no doubt you worked harder and sacrificed more then your competitors. Congratulations on your induction, wins, being a great father and role model. Lemire Motorsports
Hammer (and Lumberhead) says:
1/7/2013 10:24:00 AM
Once again, Johnny and Arcticinsider have proved that they are a real class act. Another tip of the touque to ya Johnny. And to the Legendary 7c, our sticks are banging the ice for ya there Blair. A well deserved induction into the Hall of Fame. Please wear green at the ceremony.
L.T. Frederick says:
1/7/2013 10:25:00 AM
It is great to hear some news about what Blair is up to these days, I have been lucky to have been able to race against, travel with and assist Blair and his team at races through his incedible career.
I can 100% vouch for his dedication and loyalty to his family and friends.
I miss seeing you at the track my friend, best wishes to you and your family.
Congrats on your Hall of Fame induction, well deserved.
Gerry Osendorf says:
1/7/2013 10:29:00 AM
Great interview with a great human being. Tremendous insight for a man of his age. Enjoy your induction into the Hall of Fame, Blair. Take Care and God Bless.
Terry arneson says:
1/7/2013 12:14:00 PM
What a outstanding article. Blair,you were and always will be remembered as one of the greatest athletes that the art of snowmobile racing has ever produced. Thanks for the awesome memories. You are truly a class act.
Andrew Kramer says:
1/7/2013 12:26:00 PM
Outstanding interview, like always. 7c I miss watching you race!
ron maize says:
1/7/2013 1:01:00 PM
Blair, thank you for giving the public this interview. You are loved and respected more than you will ever know. I've looked all over for updates on you since your accident,only to find very little. When my buddies talk of the best racer we've ever seen..your name ALWAYS come up.....You were and always will be ...simply the best..A huge and heartfelt Thank You Sir !!! Godspeed to you and your family....
Chris Johnson says:
1/7/2013 1:06:00 PM
Awesome interview John. Blair has always been foremost associated with SnoCross for me since I first saw him race in the late 90s. I'm lucky to have been able to see a legend like him race. Great talking with you at Canterbury last weekend as well!
M.A. Ricci says:
1/7/2013 1:29:00 PM
We've all been wondering how Blair has fared since his unfortunate accident; even though he was out of sight he wasn't out of our thoughts. Thanks for an insightful interview and article. Congratulations, Blair, on your induction to the Hall of Fame. You have not been forgotten. Well done!
Marc Ferrantino says:
1/7/2013 3:14:00 PM
I have thought about Blair quite often and always wondered how he was doin. Thanx for this interview and article. I was lucky enough to catch Blairs goggles after he won a race in Fulton NY and he invited me to his hauler and autographed them for me. I will never forget that experience !! Best of luck Blair! I owe Blair some cash too and was hoping you could tell me how to get it to him. After the accident my wife bought me a 7c t- shirt they sold to raise money for Blair. We did not get the shirt right away so my wife complained and they gave her the money back. Then a few weeks later the shirt showed up - so I owe him some money. Could you help me get in touch with him. Thank you. Marc
Hal Armstrong says:
1/7/2013 4:46:00 PM
Excellent interview John. You asked all the questions all fans would have asked him.
I find it ironic how Blair has been basically hung out to dry when he single handedly reinvented the snowmobile. BRP basically designed a sled to fit his riding style, took the gamble and it has paid off in spades with BRP taking over the # 1 sales position. I wish Blair was getting some kind of royalty cheque.
We all owe Blair a great deal for the way sleds are designed today and yes he did invent freestyle sledding as well.
All the best Blair. When my boys were the age of your kids you always took time to chat with them in the pits, let them sit on your sleds and takes pics with you. A true gentlemen in the same mold as Bob Eastman was back in his racing prime.
Thank-You and keep your chin up!
Jason McGuire says:
1/7/2013 5:30:00 PM
WOW!!! Great article. Blair Morgan is one of the true gentleman in motorsports. I had the pleasure to meet and shake his hand at the Big East Snow show in Syracuse, NY one year, truely a nice guy.
1/7/2013 5:56:00 PM
I will never forget the first day I heared about Blair Morgan. It was at a snocross race in West Yellowstone in 2006. I think that I was only 7 or 8. I renenber that I did not like the track. But what made my day was when they told me that Blair did not like the track either. I thought that was pretty cool. Blair you will always be my hero, and I will miss seeing you race. I hope to see you come to some races. I always check to see if there is any update on you. Thank for all you have done.
Kevin Hooper says:
1/7/2013 7:03:00 PM
A very powerful interview that gives all of us something to think about. We wish Blair the very best.
Aaron Thornton says:
1/7/2013 9:02:00 PM
Wonderful interview. I still have a A/C Morgan 7c clock hanging over my workbench. Congratulations on your induction into the hall of fame Blair. You most certainly deserve it!
Derrick parislau says:
1/7/2013 10:00:00 PM
Well it's always great to hear from Blair! Great interview!! Back in the day...I raced against him before he made the big show! He came out to a small track we build out in Saskatoon for a small Saskatchewan series!! I've seen him race Mx motos around in that area and was just in aww seeing him on a bike! But then when put his leg over a sled I was blown away! We all were!!! The whole group that day in practice we just gasped and said... " how in the heck can he do that"!!! We all knew he was going to change the sport in a big way!! To truly see his speed and talent is only by racing against him... And i had that chance...Coming into a big left hand corner, he slammed his sled on the outside of the turn in front of me, squared it off and started double jumping what were whoops that turned into insane double jumps! As I watched him from behind, I was in compete aww...next I see him flying through the air and land sideways into the next corner and then slug shotting himself out like a bullet!!! Some of the most insane riding I have ever seen!!! I will NEVER forget that day!!! Blair is a true legend in the sport!!! the Hall of Fame is all yours Blair!! Congratulation Blair and all the best in the future!!!!
Eric Bergstrom says:
1/7/2013 11:52:00 PM
I attended the Saturday night races at Canterbury this past weekend for the first time in roughly a decade. The racing was incredibly fun to watch, but all I could think about as everyone was racing around the back stretch of the track was the way Blair used to triple the jumps in that section while everyone else doubled them. What a treat it was to see that sort of skill in person.
This was a top notch article. Thanks John and Blair!
1/8/2013 4:19:00 AM
Great article John...Amazing. One of the best on Arctic Insider.
1/8/2013 6:36:00 AM
Nice interview John. And thanks to Mr Morgan for sharing with us all. Many praises and honors coming are well deserved.
Paul Nadeau says:
1/8/2013 11:51:00 AM
1. Congratulations Blair on your induction into the Hall of Fame. Long overdue, you really did change to sport to the level it is today! Thank you!
2. From what I have read in all of the previous posts you are a very private person, so thank you so very much for coming out of your comfort zone and filling us fans and supporters on what has been going on in your life. You are extremely generous and brave at the same time. The best of luck in your future endeavors!
3. Thank you John for the great interview, very thoughtful and insightful, keep up the great work!
Bob Vojvodich says:
1/8/2013 4:38:00 PM
Thanks to both of you John & Blair for a great post ! I can't help but to think back to being fortunate enough to see Blair race at Spirit, Canterbury, and in the Metrodome for the indoor races on that short track. It didn't matter what the venue, Blair raised the bar and then some! Wow, what a show you put on! We all wish you and your family the very best, and congrats on the induction to the Hall of Fame!
Chris Sowers says:
1/8/2013 6:07:00 PM
Thank you for the great interview. It was very heartfelt, Our group of riders always admired your riding style. Back when you were riding for Arcticat my daughter just had to have a 7c sticker on her Kitty Cat we still have it.Thanks again for all the racing memories and God Bless
Tracy Lura says:
1/8/2013 9:04:00 PM
Great article about a great racer. Will never forget watching Blair race.
1/8/2013 9:12:00 PM
Top notch interview!
and thanks Blair for letting us know how you're doing!
I took my son to see Blair race at the WSA snocross in
Winnipeg, Manitoba and never forget meeting him and signing both of
our jackets in the pits after his practise laps!
I proudly show my 7C autographed AC jacket whenever I can and
will always treasure it!!
congratulations on your S.H.O.F. induction!!!
Mitch Apriesnig says:
1/8/2013 10:23:00 PM
Absolutely loved this article. I grew up in Northern Wisconsin and I was obsessed with snowmobiles and snowmobile racing. I had the pleasure to see Blair race in Duluth, Eagle River, and Crandon. I even got to meet him at Haydays and got a signed poster of the entire Arctic Cat racing team, I think it was the 200-2001 team including Blair, Tucker, and Toni Haikonen "The Flying Finn". Blair was my hero until he switched to Ski-Doo, when I really started to like Tucker Hibbert. Much love to Blair, I can't imagine going from the top of the world to having to deal with such adversity. Go Team Arctic Forever!
Heather LeMoine says:
1/9/2013 9:40:00 AM
Such a great article! The questions were all the ones I've wanted to ask and that excitement of the early years - exactly! So glad I was a part of that!
1/9/2013 4:13:00 PM
Enjoyed the interview a ton. I had the pleasure of working in snocross close to Blair and it is so good to hear how he is doing. Blair your comments about those early years certainly put a smile on my face as alot of great memories are from those years ..... and Blair you made a bunch of them.
1/9/2013 4:14:00 PM
Best story to share was the time my wife and I attended the races at Crandon and Blair showed up with a rented U-haul truck and open place trailer --I believe Jamie Anseeuw was with him.
My wife and I were eavesdropping the drivers meeting and I nodged my wife and said --That's Blair standing next to you ! She responded -- Ya Right.
There was Blair --jeans dragging in the slush, retro tennis shoes and some goofing looking hat.
After the meeting I said --hey 7 C, would you have any posters you could sign for us after the races ?
He said sure, just meet me over by that U-haul truck and trailer.
Later we all had such a good laugh as Blair was showing us his Canadian RV with his race sleds on that open place trailer !!!
The good old days !!!!
Jeremy fyle says:
1/9/2013 9:15:00 PM
Best of luck in the future Blair. I am sure your kids appreciate having you around to help them through every day. It's good to hear you have not lost your ambition to be the best you can be.
Dmax Race Innovation says:
1/10/2013 1:10:00 PM
As always, a real class act 7C. So many really great people in snowmobile racing, many of the best I'll ever meet were on those BMR teams. Warm wishes from everyone here at the shop.
Jamie Anseeuw says:
1/10/2013 8:38:00 PM
Thank-you for doing this interview John ... here are a few tidbits of info for 7C fans and young upcoming riders.
That first full season Blair raced, he didn't receive a paycheck, he raced for prize money. His mechanic, Barry Dawson didn't receive a paycheck, just a % of the winnings.
Blair helped out by working on his own sleds during the week, as Barry and I had jobs and only worked on his sleds in the evenings.
After Winter X-Games '98, his first, he drove the rented truck and borrowed trailer from Crested Butte, CO to Ottawa, Canada for a CSRA race (over 2,000 miles) with the help of Larry Frederick of Romulus, MI [thank-you Larry] .... no rental car races to the airport and a quick flight home for Blair that first winter.
John Sandberg says:
1/11/2013 3:21:00 PM
I want to thank everyone here who expressed their thoughts and shared a story about Blair.
This was an immensely enjoyable interview/post, for a several key reasons:
The biggest was getting to reconnect with Blair who, in addition to being a really solid human being, was always one of my favorite racing personalities.
I also enjoyed thinking about the decade that Blair raced, in particular those first few years. Those were magical times where a super man truly did transform an entire sport.
Very few people get to make that kind of impact. It was so much fun watching it unfold.
The other really big thing for me was learning of Blair's place in life these days. Over the past four years there have been so many times I've wondered about Blair, but for mostly lame reasons I just never contacted him. I'm pleased to know that he's mostly okay, focusing on the people he loves and experiencing some level of peace with his life.
Really, at the end of the day, that's about as good as life gets.
I'm hopeful that all of this isn't the last of what I will write with Blair's help, but rather a beginning. I'll be in St. Germain next month to watch him get inducted into the S.H.O.F. and I have a whole bunch more questions about racing and his career that would be great to record and post on this site.
Whether it's in four months or four years, I hope to return with more stories from the life and times of 7C.
Thanks everyone (especially you Blair).
1/11/2013 9:24:00 PM
It was great watching you ride Blair.... I wish you all the happiness and health in the next stage of your journey, we all learn and reflect on the win's and losses in our lives, it's always the losses that teach us the most and usualy make us better for it in the long run!
God Bless you and the Family!
Dave Neumann says:
1/12/2013 7:40:00 AM
First started snowmobiling in 1970; bought all the magazines (SnoGoer, Snotrack, Snow Week etc). Still have my original copy of "Ice and Engines" and "Warriors of Winter" as well as many of the old publications. I have watched your writing style (and photography) evolve and improve through the years. This is hands down THE BEST article I have read in 43 years. Great questions from you John, and candid, straightforward answers from Blair. It really captures Blair's tremendous strength of character as he has faced life's challenges. I think it is fair to say that Blair's greatest victory was off the track in the way he has faced his injury and how he has been involved in his children's lives. Best wishes to Blair and his two children, and continued success to you John.
1/12/2013 8:27:00 AM
John- great article, with 40 some comments i don't need to tell you that.
Always will be a morgan fan, racing or not. I'm the guy at the new sled shows wearing a 7c sweatshirt or ZR racing jersey.
1/12/2013 10:57:00 AM
Great article, thanks for the great snowmobile racing memories Blair!
1/12/2013 1:11:00 PM
I remember in the late 98 or 99 taking my oldest son to Lake Geneva to watch snowcross. We got his hat signed by Blair and other racers. Blair and his style changed racing and the way snowmobiles were engineered for riding. I recall talking with him at haydays aswell. I wish him and his family the best and hope we hear from him more.
1/14/2013 3:44:00 PM
I remember watching Blair triple jumps at Crandon. Everyone was in awe due to the other other guys only doubling the jumps and hearing their suspensions bottom out and Blair sounding like he was landing on a pillow (Tucker was doing the same thing). I also remember him trying to avoid attention as he was the show (cant blame him). After the race was over, I stood on the hill with him (he won of course) and then signed pretty much whatever I wanted along with all of the other kids.
I also remember Blair comparing a jumping a sno pro to flying a kite. Thought that was a pretty cool analogy!
I have most of the posters from Arctic Cat that featured him hanging in my spare room. I also wear my old Arctic Cat Superman T-shirt yet and get tons of compliments on it. If I didnt have such a big head I would wear my Blair Morgan Baseball cap.
Blair was my hero and still is. I find myself thinking about all the great memories he made for me and alot of other people. I hear younger kids talk about the current racers and I always think wow if they could have seen Blair Morgan do the things he did on sleds that I would consider inferior to what is being ridden now.
So great to hear from him again. I wish Blair would come back in some way shape or form. I would assume one of the factories would welcome him with open arms. They should anyways!
1/16/2013 9:36:00 AM
Blair is still the greatest racer of any kind that I have had the good fortune of watching race in person. As others have have already mentioned I feel grateful to have witnessed a "magic" time in the sport of snowmobile racing, and shared it with my youngest son who grew up looking at Blair as truly being "Superman".
Congratulations to Blair on your induction to the Hall of Fame, and on living through this tough challenge in your life like the champion you are.
Thanks also to John for this interview as we have been longing to hear how Blair was doing and what he was up to.
1/16/2013 9:34:00 PM
Another two thumbs up for great article. There was a nice story in the local paper last week, too. www.paherald.sk.ca should help anyone find it if interested.
Big congrats on the Hall of Fame induction.
chad williamson says:
1/18/2013 11:03:00 PM
What else can be said? Blair will always be the greatest. In 02 i drove to canada and bought one of his first 1998 arctic cat race sleds. I still to this day ride it around and show it off. I got to meet blair at the canterbury races and talked to him about the hotrod. He remembered all sorts of details about it. It has been my obsession keeping the 7c spirit goin here in SD.
Forever Team 7c
1/24/2013 5:47:00 PM
For most people, a Hall of Fame induction can come as a bit of a surprise... One would have to wonder about themself if Blair's induction came as a surprise to them, in my mind and I feel most are the same, it was just a matter of time.
Blair was a role model when I first started racing snocross, and a competitor when I took the opportunity to work for the Factory Polaris/Team Industries snocross team in 04-06 as a Mechanic. But even wearing the Polaris color's, a man such as Blair Morgan was respected. I always remember the rivalry between Polaris and Ski Doo(different than Polaris and Cat), but no matter what I always remember how much respect everyone had for eachother. My first year, after the WSA banquet in Lake Geneva, a bunch of people were at the bar(of course) and I spotted Blair just standing in the corner, a lone, on crutches(he had broken his leg that year in Valcourt). I walked up, shook his hand and said hello, he was a man of few words, almost stand-offish. But at his level, we had little in common to talk about. I walked away with an opinion, that would of course be altered as time went on and I realized even more so how much one man has done for the sport. And if I remember correctly, it was Jamie Anseeuw that brought Blair to the states to be that hero.
Thank you Jamie, Thank you Arctic Cat and Thank you Blair.
1/24/2013 5:50:00 PM
And of course, another incredible article by John. Thank you for the update, I know I am not a lone when I say I was curious what Superman had been up to since his injury.
2/22/2013 4:41:00 PM
What a great interview. I bought a ZR 440 because of Blair Morgan, my brother bought a ZR 600 Blair Morgan edition. We are two of many that might never have gotten back into riding were it not for Blair. The first time I watched him race on TV I could not believe how much smoother he was riding than everyone else. He was the Eddie Van Halen of Snocross, completely changing the sport.
So it's crushing to now read... "I’ve had to change our lifestyle and live within a strict budget. We don’t travel and we live a pretty contained lifestyle, but it’s what’s best for us." and also that he has to stream Snocross over crummy internet service... so where is Arctic Cat? Where is Skidoo? And Polaris and Yamaha for that matter for everything Blair did for the sport in general. Thanks for the memories 7c.
Nate Clark says:
5/1/2013 9:45:00 AM
I read this article on 1/8/13 and like most thought it was fantastic to hear from Superman. Little did I know how much of an impact your article would have three short days later...On 1/11/13 I was involved in an accident while competing in a timed hill climb, I was thrown off the back of my turbo at over 100mph when it went airborne. The impact left me with four broken ribs, a broken sternum, and a burst fractured L1. I was paralyzed, and I knew it instantly while lying motionless on that ski slope. It was the day after my trauma surgery on the 12th that I recalled the article. The Dr. told me that I would never walk again and would rely on a chair from this point on. Snowmobiling has been an important part of my life and will continue to be that way. I remembered Blair’s comments about still riding, quick vehicle transfers, and being able to be a good father. Life goes on, we play that cards we are dealt.
Thank you Blair & John. Your article helped me deal from day one and continues to help me today.
7/13/2013 2:38:00 PM
I was watching some Indy Racing todayand seen Paul Tracy, a racing god in Canada, and then came to my head the name "Blair Morgan and pulled up this article. He in Canada is in the same class of superstar racers as the Villeneuve's, Tracy's, Moore's of the world. I am not a big motocross fan, nor SnowCross, but anytime back over the years when I watched SnowCross or the XGames, I always watched with fascination Blair Morgan. He was a superstar and it is so great to see him in the Snowmobile Hall of Fame, very good article and wish we could see Blair Morgan bounce back and get out more to tell his stories. Your never forgotten, keep plowing ahead and we only wish you the best.
Christopher Hartman says:
11/25/2013 5:51:00 PM
Great article. Thanks Blair for ll the great years of racing. When your kids are grown come back and run a team please. You still have loads to offer both sports. Eat some chips and salsa for Kuster.
wayne wemken says:
1/4/2014 9:41:00 PM
Great interview John and Blair.
Congrats on your HOF induction Blair, and thanks for the memories!!
I had my two sons who were 8 and 11 years old at the time, in Lake Geneva for the Grand Finale back in 2001. We were huge Arctic Cat and Blair Morgan fans. We had pit passes, and after Blair had come back to his trailer after a race, the boys wanted to go see if they could meet him or get an autograph. What happened next, just shows what a great person Blair is.
We didn't see him standing around anywhere, so the boys knocked on his trailer door. Someone opened the door and asked the boys if he could help them. My son said we were wondering if we could get Blairs autograph. Blair was sitting on the other side of the room and jumped up and said "Sure, come on in". He walked up and shook the boys hands, and went over to a table where he had posters rolled up. He opened on of the posters that were four feet by 2 feet, and said " How would you like one of these"? The boys faces lit up like a Christmas tree!! He not only autographed one for each of the boys, he asked me if I'd like one!!
The boys are 20 and 23 now, and still ride Cats, but none of us will ever forget your kindness and class Blair!! Thank you again.
Wayne, Michael, and Mark Wemken.
Mike Cloke says:
1/9/2014 8:04:00 PM
Great article on Superman. I met Blair his second year at West and although it was obvious we raced yellow (he was on a Cat at that time)... we were welcomed into his trailer and he gave our boys pointers on racing and things to watch out for on the track (they raced Junior II at that time)... as I write this I can see in our den, around ALL of the yellow posters and brag awards we have... there is an autographed poster of Blair Morgan. Blair you are a class act!
Douglas Decoigne says:
2/3/2014 3:42:00 PM
My wife out of the blue asked me to find out how Blair was doing(we had a snowcross team for 16years) I found this article and read it and all the great comments as fast as I could! Can,t tell you how much of an influence and hero Blair that you are to me , my son and our team.I was at W. Yellowstone in 1997 to see Blair,s first US race. Our team was at Duluth the following Nov. to witness magic on a snowcross sled ! Had the honor of seeing Blair many more times and was in disbelief when I heard of the accident. You are still a hero to your children and MANY more people that you touched!
Kevin Carlson says:
2/5/2014 10:09:00 AM
WOW... great article.
I, like many Saskatchewan snowmobilers, followed Blair's career with pride in seeing our boy lighting up tracks all over, whether snow covered or not. Blair... your open and extremely honest remarks were very touching. I myself also have a parent with Altzheimers who no longer recognizes me, so I know how hard that can be. The fact that you see your paralysis as only a small hurdle over the past few years shows your immense character and positive outlook on life. I wish you all the best!
Addison Sweet says:
2/12/2014 11:24:00 AM
I seen him in the Grand Prix du Valcourt racing against Tucker back in 04 and it was amazing to see these two guys battle. Blair will always be a hero! One of the best interviews I've read.
Addison Sweet says:
2/12/2014 11:28:00 AM
I seen him in the Grand Prix du Valcourt racing against Tucker back in 04 and it was amazing to see these two guys battle. Blair will always be a hero! One of the best interviews I've read.
Congratulations Blair on your induction into the HOF.
Rob Eckersley says:
10/23/2014 11:47:00 PM
Thanks for the great article, boy is it nice to hear some news about Blair. I was and still am the biggest fan, you just were so special to watch you are a hero to me and many other flat landers. Been teaching my five year old daughter to ride these last three years bikes, and sleds, and it makes me think of you every time out, and how nice it is to get out with the family. Sorry to hear about your dad, he was a nice man, watched a few races and shared stories with him in PA, while my buddy Gerry christy tried emulating you, lol. I'm not sure if its true but picturing you banging down gravel roads in your first car an Acura nsx you won makes me smile ever time! Being a father is a marathon not a sprint but the rewards are great, as you know. Thanks for the greatness you brought and still bring to people, and thanks for the great article it is so appreciated, good luck in the future Blair.
DEREK J #59 MOTO says:
12/13/2014 11:43:00 AM
I REMEMBER SEEING YOU WAY BACK WHEN YOU RACED FOR RON ASHLEY AT TWO WHEEL I KNEW THEN YOU WERE GOING TO MAKE A MARK I TOO RACED MOTOCROSS AND RIDE SLEDS STILL AFTER 30YRS ITS STILL FUN.I WATCHED YOU WHEN YOU STARTED SNO CROSS RACING ASWELL AND I KNEW THAT THE FIELD WAS IN FOR AN ASS KICKIN AND A WHOLE NEW WAY OF RACING I HOPE YOU RETURN TO YOUR ROOTS MAYBE AS A TEAM MANAGER OR MENTOR YOUR EXPERIANCE AND WORK ETHIC ARE SOMETHING YOU SHOULDN,T WASTE AND TODAY,S RACERS COULD BENEFIT FROM YOUR WORDS OF WISDOM IN BOTH MOTO AND SNO CROSS I,M CERTAIN THERE IS A GREAT PAYING OPPERTUNITY JUST WAITING FOR YA IN THE SPORTS YOU LOVE SO MUCH I,M SURE SOMEONE IS WILLING TO PONY UP THE BIG BUCKS FOR YOUR VALUABLE KNOWLEDGE GOOD LUCK AND ENJOY LIFE BROTHER!
rob sheppard says:
1/10/2015 5:51:00 PM
I remember when you started racing sleds and I remember the first time I lined up with you guys 7c-47c-100 todd wolf and many others, my father and watched you race lots and we learned so much from you and Jamie and you. I think that there were a lot of people touched from your accident, I remember that 99 mod sled with that 678 black magic engine I had earls motor in my 2000 sno-pro after tim resold it, but I would have to say those days were a lot fun memories that will always be there for ever.
1/14/2015 3:00:00 AM
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Jason Bailey says:
1/15/2015 10:28:00 AM
I joined the CSRA snow-cross tour in 1996. The world cup opener was at Searchmont in Sault Ste Marie Ontario, Canada. Kirk Hibbert and Brad Pake were battling with Tony Haikonen for top spot in the Pro 400 600 and open class. These guys were serious players on the track.
I did not return to the Searchmont Track until the world opener 1999 when I first got my live view of the 7c show and everyone at this race was blown away by the Blair Morgan show. I remember this especially because of the track design; the start line was at the bottom of the Ski hill and shot right up with a 6 foot jump halfway up and a table top to crest; Blair would touch the track twice on each shot up that hill with that cat screaming. I can still hear that massive and comfortable landing "WHOMP" as the sled connected with the ground during touchdown and then immediately left for the blue sky again. I did not race this year, I was only a bystander in the crowd. I was a student at Confederation College where I was studying in the Aircraft Structural program. Three things happened that weekend that I will never forget. The first thing was watching Blair race live for the first time. The second one was performing first aide on three people that were injured at the top of the track after a sled entered the crowd at high speed; one man later died from his injuries. Last but not least, is one that I may regret for the rest of my life. That is that on the Monday following the race I was in class at the Airport hanger. Larry and Steve our professors were visited by two individuals. I did not get to see them clearly as they went into the office at the back of the hanger. One was a former student of the professors and the College course and the other was, yes, Blair Morgan himself. I missed out on my opportunity to meet the Superman himself.
I still follow any stories that I find about Blair today because of the inspiration he shares freely for individuals who struggle in their lives. Blair will always be the superman on or off the track!