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Insight into Roger's Respect


(5/18/2011)

Roger Skime, VP of Engineering at Arctic Cat

I could write a book about Roger Skime, detailing his gigantic impact on the sport of snowmobiling and his even greater role at Arctic Cat.

But what I'm more impressed with than his inventiveness is the absolute dignity and respect that he brings to the sport.

Whenver there has been a major snowmobile race over the past five decades, Roger has probably been there.

THE most passionate competitor in a company chock-full of them, Roger embraced racing when he came to the company in 1962 and never once let go.

If you've ever wondered why Arctic Cat has been an over-achiever in racing, the answer starts with him.

Roger Skime, VP of Engineering at Arctic Cat

Roger himself has always been a racer, especially in the early years of the sport and company.

In recent decades, Skime would occasionally defy company expectations that he "hang up his race helmet," and put himself back into the competitive arena.

Case in point: During the 1999 race season, engine gremlins plagued the ZR Sno Pro race sled, and the Race Department was struggling to find a fix. On the eve of the I-500 (above) and still unable to diagnose the problem, Roger literally entered the race at the last possible minute. He had to borrow a sled, helmet and other gear to pull it off, but that's exactly what he did.

 

Roger Skime, VP of Engineering at Arctic Cat

For the past four decades, though, Roger has typically been a spectator.

And at each race, he spends a considerable amount of time studying the competition, like he's doing here at an ISOC cross-country race in 1996.

For the man who invented the slide rail suspension, I'm always struck by his utter lack of ego. If he has an ego, I've never seen it.

Nope, his personal pride has never prevented him from getting on his hands and knees to study a competitor's skidframe, or to humbly acknowledge when another company has developed a better technology.

Roger consoles Trevor John

To see Roger's face when one of "his" racers wins is to see a joy whose depth and passion have no end.

One time I saw tears of despair in his eyes. It was at the 1998 Warroad I-500.

Going into the third and final day, Team Arctic's Trevor John had the lowest time, a solid sled and a lead that seemed insurmountable. Battling flat light and the unimaginable nerves that accompany a young racer in that situation, John missed a course marker just a few miles from the finish, racing for several minutes in the wrong direction before realizing his mistake.

Panicked, he turned around and raced back to the course, but by then it was too late. He'd been passed by Todd Wolff.

It was a crushing blow to John. After crossing the finish line, he simply hung his head and wept. And Roger wept with him. Not because Team Arctic lost, but because of the deep empathy he felt for John.

What illustrates Roger's greatness best that day, happened just moments before he shared a tear with John.

 

Roger congratulates Todd Wolff

In the competitive arena of snowmobile racing, passions run deep and strong. To those who pit themselves against other brands and drivers, the air often weighs heavy and acrid like a battle zone. It's an intoxicating joy when your brand is winning, just as it can be brutally crushing when you lose.

Yet whether it's an Arctic Cat racer who takes the victory, or another brand that gets the honors (like Todd Wolff here at the 1998 Warroad I-500 cross-country), Roger is always the FIRST person to shake their hand in congratulations.

This - more than his inventions, longevity, contributions and racing success - is why Roger has earned the greatest respect from his peers.



Comments (19):

Dave Nehring says:
5/18/2011 12:05:00 PM

Nice story, John!

If there had to be a choice about ONE person that has made Arctic Cat an industry leader in so many areas, there's no question that Roger has to be the unanimous pick - he has had a tremendous impact in so many ways, they can't be counted. And yet, he is so down to earth and approachable - he is truly one of a kind - thanks, Roger, for all you've done!

Dave
jimu@sledracer.com says:
5/18/2011 1:26:00 PM

I've learned to keep my eyes and ears open when I'm around Roger because I always learn something.
Dan Hegman says:
5/18/2011 1:53:00 PM

Roger is one of the greatest... I raced Arctic Cats for years and I can remeber one day at Lake Geneva we had just got done with "one of those winters" I was sitting on the hill in my warm up coat thinking to myself why am I even doing this. He came and sat with me for about a half hour and we just talked and hung out. I really think that conversation kept me racing for many more years and now I am passing the racing on to my son.
Chris Jordheim says:
5/18/2011 3:59:00 PM

Nice write-up. I got to visit with Roger for the first time at Hay Days a few years ago. What a humble, knowledgable, and engaging person. My kids asked, "who is that guy that you took the picture with?" I answered honestly, "a snowmobiling legend."

John: Why don't you quit with this little stuff and offer to be his biographer. That would be one helluva book! Edgar did it - why not Roger?
Hal Armstrong says:
5/18/2011 4:37:00 PM

I agree with Chris. A book on roger would be a great read. An even better read would be an update on Arctic's history from CJ's book.
Boy your luck to have access to all the people at the factory that make Arctic tic!
Wayne Tweten says:
5/18/2011 7:06:00 PM

Thank you John for an excellent article.I have been priveliged to know Rog for many years & indeed it is a privelige.
I reckon I have put Roger in the same class as Edgar for many years as they are both truly legends in the snowmobile world.
Good luck getting Rog to agree to a book But I want the first copy if you ever do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks again John!!
This a is absolutely awesome site. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wayne

Greg Hallstrom says:
5/18/2011 9:35:00 PM

I worked on the assembly line at Arctic Cat for two summers in the early '90's while back in college following my divorce. Quite often, Roger would come down to the assembly line if there was a problem with parts not fitting, etc. While there, he was just a "Good Old Boy" like the rest of us. He always had a friendly smile and would strike up a conversation with most anyone. He knew that our job was just as important as that of those in Engineering or even Management. Pull together win together!
Bob says:
5/19/2011 2:34:00 AM

While I have never met Roger, I have been riding sleds, and yes they have all been Cat's, for the last 35 years. In the past as I read articles in various snowmobile publications about racing and product development, Roger's name was always somewhere to be found, either at a desk with pen and paper, or out on the track at 10 degrees pushing sleds, people and technology farther and farther. For someone to not only stick around in the same industry, but with the same company through the good and the bad for 50 years is not only unheard of, but absoloutely amazing! It is people like him that make a company, make a brand what it is, and make the customers of that company proud to buy their products. Face it, if you are on this site, your blood is green, and probably has been for a long time. But that man was BORN with green blood pulsing through his veins, it's what makes him, you, and I a different breed of snowmobiler, we are die-hard Arctic Cat riders and we always will be. What he has done has affected so many lives, it's value is priceless. We are all extremely fortunate to have "grown up" in an industry with someone like Roger in our camp, it truly gives new meaning to the phrase "SHARE OUR PASSION" Roger, I look forward to meeting you and getting your autograph at the 50th!!!
Bill Nemanis says:
5/19/2011 10:53:00 AM

I've had the great fortune of speaking with Roger on more than one occasion but the time that I remember most was at Searchmont. Although I work in Lansing, I live 40 miles northeast of Lansing in the heart of dairy country. I remember clearly talking to Roger about his beef herd his feeding methods and farm talk in general not to mention his thoughts on exhaust port timing control on the 440 engines. I remember that he felt like Yamaha's use of the servo motor was where Arctic would eventually end up. He obviously was right. Roger was approachable, very friendly and fun to talk sleds or farming with. I hope our paths cross again sometime soon Roger!
Vince says:
5/19/2011 7:52:00 PM

Me and my brother rode from Hayward, WI to Cats Hometown Tour in January 2001, while we were walking into the big Saturday night dinner at the Best Western Kathy Johnson introduced us to Roger as the two guys who rode in from Hayward, Roger asked us questions about the ride and was talking and listening to us with genuine interest, the moment was truly one of my unforgettable snowmobiling memories.
darrell says:
5/19/2011 10:05:00 PM

i am a nobody from nowhere, but have to say Roger has always taken time to visit or answer questions when ever i has a oppurtunity to ask. thank you so very much Roger you class is appreciated. d3
insider says:
5/20/2011 10:27:00 AM

I have worked for/with Roger for 18 years now. The coolest thing about him is he will never ask you to do anything that he would not do himself. Even today he is the first guy to grab a broom and sweep a floor if need be, he makes you wanna do a good job.
flintstone says:
5/21/2011 10:01:00 PM

Tucker Hibbert is my hero..
Alley Cat says:
5/22/2011 4:39:00 PM

Best of the best. Not one of the rest....
Tom Rowland says:
5/22/2011 5:03:00 PM

One encounter with Roger that I will always remember occurred at the Waconia MN snowmobile event in January of 2007. My dad and I had a line up of our old Arctic Cats on display there that spanned model years from 1962-1984. Mid-afternoon, Roger stopped by to visit. As he would glance at the various models there on display, he would be reminded of different memories. One of my favorites...he spoke of in the early 1960s being miles out of Thief River on the river testing one of the red/white Tom Cat models with the 2 stroke Hirth on it when the motor mounts began to break off. In a short time, all of the mounts broke off and he was alone in the middle of nowhere. He rode it all the way back to the plant cradling the running engine between his knees, with one arm wrapped around the top of the engine and steering/running the throttle with the other!
Auggie says:
5/24/2011 5:00:00 PM

Yah, I worked for Arctic for eight years. One year in Fargo, five years in TRF and two years in Mpls. I worked in the Service Dept and almost every time we had a problem Cordes and I would hunt down Roger and he would always come up with a fix. It looks like another great year coming up with that Super product line. Keep it going Rog.

Auggie
mark oschmann says:
6/4/2011 10:57:00 AM

I had the great opportunity to meet roger at lake geneva the past winter and i thought it would be awesome to actually meet this man in person.i walked up to him and introduced myself which i dont know him and he doesnt know me,what a great man to be approachable and genuine,if there was ever a complete class act this is the man,thank you for shaking my hand it was a moment that i will never forget.
Akrider says:
6/10/2011 1:00:00 AM

Great article, very interesting.
Kredyty says:
10/23/2011 4:09:00 PM

Awesome Post. I add this Blog to my bookmarks.

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