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Legends Gather: Team Arctic Sno Pro Reunion


(11/6/2014)

Team Arctic's Dave Thompson, Roger Skime, Jim Dimmerman, Bill Decker, Bob Elsner, Bill Ness & Larry Coltom. By ArcticInsider.com

L-to-R: Dave Thompson, Roger Skime, Jim Dimmerman, Bill Decker, Bob Elsner, Bill Ness, Larry Coltom.


Team Arctic Reunion: The Boys Are Back In Town

-By Jim Dimmerman

The 7th of August my cell phone rang about 10:00 am. The caller ID said it was Bill Decker, the former Team Arctic PR and Sales Promotion manager for Arctic Cat back in the Sno Pro era of the late 1970s and early 80s. That team was comprised of Dave Thompson, Larry Coltom, Bob Elsner, myself, plus our mechanics and some others.

To say the least, Bill and I were very good friends from that era, but I hadn’t talked with him in decades. Seeing his name on the caller ID made my heart jump.

We did the usual preliminary small talk and he cut to the chase. He said, “Bucky, I’ve got something on my bucket list I need to do. I want to get together with you Team Arctic drivers one more time, I’m willing to pay for all the costs and I’ll travel wherever. Do you think we can do it?”

I replied, “That’s an awesome idea, I feel exactly the same way.”

I went on to tell him that Elsner would be the toughest to get to come. I had spoken to Bobby a couple of years ago to see if he would come to Eagle River’s 50th. He really didn’t want to be in front of all those people, so he said no. He might have a different feeling about a small Team Arctic reunion.

I gave Bob’s number to Bill. Twenty minutes later Bill called me back and said “Bobby’s good to go!” 

He only would have done that for you, Bill. Great!

The next challenge is to get Coltom out of Thief River Falls…he doesn’t stray far from home very often. I gave Larry’s number to Bill and, awhile later, Bill call back to say that Larry’s good to go…Dave Thompson’s good to go and Roger Skime will drive them down to Hudson, Wis., to our hotel.

Bill Ness (former Arctic Cat CEO and Chairman of the Board) will meet us at the hotel. It’s all set for September 19-20. I’ll pick up Bill Decker at the airport (coming in from St. Louis) and drive to Hudson and meet up with the others about 4:00 Friday.

It was a beautiful Friday. I pulled up to Bill at the airport where he was standing on the curb. Thirty-three years had passed since we’d seen each other. A big hug, tears of joy welling up in our eyes, and smiles from ear to ear on both of us. We had non-stop jabber back and forth for the ride to Wisconsin.

I couldn’t believe this was really happening… Bill looked just the same, well, almost just the same. He’s about 70 years old now, but still full of that same enthusiastic charisma. He’s a great guy to be around. Everybody in the industry loved him, myself included.

Bill and I sat in the hotel lobby gabbing away. At 3:00 pm Bobby Elsner strolls through the door. I jumped up, smiling, and with a hearty handshake, we met. I hadn’t seen Bobby for 25 years, since Eagle River’s 25th anniversary. He looked just the same, very fit, except gray where there was once color! He could easily still throw a leg over a Sno Pro sled, maybe not bend at the knees, but he could still ride one! Decker came to him and gave him a huge hug, their smiles were so wide as their eyes teared up. I couldn’t be happier to see them together again.

We sat in the lobby, now three-way jabbering until Roger Skime comes in with Larry Coltom and Dave Thompson. Now it’s official. The Boys are back in town!!

I’ve seen Roger, Larry, and David almost every year over the course of the past 30 years, but they hadn’t seen Bobby or Bill Decker since 1981. I just sat back and watched these old friends get back in the groove. I kept shaking my head…I can’t believe this is happening. My heart was totally filled with joy! My mentors were all in front of me once again. Gray as ghosts, but mentors just the same.

Then, Bill Ness walks in. “Well, hello boys,” he says.

Ness was the money-man behind Team Arctic Racing. He believed snowmobile racing was hugely important to Arctic Cat’s success as a business and he supported what was then a million dollar budget to fuel it. As Chairman of the Board and CEO of the company, he certainly had the power and influence to make it happen, and he did to till the very end.

So now in the lobby we have the VP of Engineering, the PR & Sales Promotion Manager, 4 race team drivers and the man behind the company. I’d say that’s a full house!

 

Team Arctic Sno Pro Reunion. Dimmerman, Elsner, Coltom, Thompson, Skime, Decker

You might think that seven guys talking in a small lobby would have a buzz of different topics going all at once…not so…a topic would come up and each of us would comment separately. I don’t think anyone wanted to miss what the other guy was saying, so we’d beat the topic to death and move on to a new one!

So the big question, what did we talk about?

First of all, very little of it was about racing. We needed to get caught up on our home lives, wives, kids, jobs, etc., sports, Vikings, Packers, Adrian Peterson, NASCAR, Kevin Harvick, Budweiser sponsorship (Bill knows a lot about Budweiser), race team budgets & development.

We talked about world events, Obama, health care and the economy, Arctic Cat and Polaris, ATVs, cattle, horses, farming and hay.

A lot of talk was about the status of old friends. Someone would mention a name – company people, fellow racers, old girlfriends – and everyone would fill in what they knew.

Dave’s passion is his 1950’s vintage cars. Larry loves to fish. Bobby is kind of a homebody, some old car restoration and still rides his sleds about 1000 miles a year. Roger has a farm and several hundred cattle. Bill Decker is passionate about supporting wounded military personnel via the Gateway Warrior Foundation. Bill Ness has his grandkids. And for me, the horse stable I operate with my love, Kris.

That first night we went out for dinner to Mama Maria’s Italian Restaurant, where Decker gave a nice toast about being with his best friends once again. He stopped just short of tears in our eyes. We were back to our rooms by 9:30, a sure sign of our advanced ages!

A few thoughts streamed through my mind before hitting the pillow:

I was so relieved to see Bobby was in good health. A lot of rumors said he was out of circulation due to health problems. That’s just not so. He doesn’t like being the center of attention, for that matter, neither do Larry or David. These guys were never very comfortable with that aspect of their public lives.

I understand it, but I’ve always believed that one of us needs to share the life of Team Arctic with all of our Arctic Cat fans, past and current. We have an interesting story to tell before we are too old to remember it. I suppose I’m the one to do the sharing.

Comfortable with that thought, I fell asleep.

The next morning we all met at Perkins for breakfast. From there we piled into cars for a short trip to New Richmond, Wis., to the Zed Shed, where my good friend Rich Pederson has a beautiful collection of vintage sleds, mostly race sleds and mostly Arctic Cats.

Rich met us at the door of his shop. He had asked a dozen of his good friends to come and be there with us. They were all true Arctic Cat fans that were interested in mingling with The Boys for an hour. This was the only fanfare for our weekend. I could see Davey, Bobby and Larry enjoying the fact that, 30 years after their race careers had ended, there are still some huge Team Arctic Sno Pro fans.

When we walked into the collection, Roger gravitated to the back of the room. I was next to him. One lone Polaris sled sat before us, a 1977 RXL.

Roger sighed for a moment and said, “That’s the sled that kicked our ass!”

It was a powerful, truthful statement. 

We had just walked past 40 incredible, historic snowmobiles to stop and reflect on this one. It just goes to show you how vividly, after all these years, a company man like Roger Skime still recognizes that they had “missed” on the sport’s next evolution (IFS front suspension). When that sled hit the ice for the ’77 season, Polaris had shown him (and everyone else) their advanced engineering. It hurt his pride then… and it still stings even to this day.

The reality is that the RXL made Arctic Cat a better company. No stone would be left unturned in advanced engineering at Arctic Cat again…

The scene inside the Zed Shed quickly changed when Rich lit up the four-cylinder King Kat. Roger’s face was beaming as he walked over to put his hand over each stinger pipe to ensure it was running on all four. It was!

Team Arctic Sno Pro reunion at the Zed Shed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Team Arctic Sno Pro reunion at the Zed Shed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Now the racing mood kicked in. Larry and David were standing next to a ’73 EXT 340. Bobby came over and said, “I was right behind you at Ironwood and had you in my sights.” Larry won and Bobby – still an independent racer at the time – was second. 

Dave asked if Bobby had ever removed the gear reduction set from his engine? Bobby said no, it was all stock just the way it came from Arctic. You could tell Larry knew Bobby had left a lot on the table in performance by not removing it! Which only reinforced what we’ve always known about Bob Elsner: He was one hell of driver!

Team Arctic Sno Pro reunion at the Zed Shed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Rich had a table set up with all sorts of memorabilia for us to sign. We all signed a couple of sled hoods as well. John Sandberg took lots of photos. Bobby agreed to do an interview with John, which was long overdue. After an hour or so we shook hands with everyone, got into our cars, and drove away.

While we were driving away, I called Rich to thank him. He said they were all sitting outside on the picnic tables having a beer and reflecting. “Do you realize what just happened?” he said. “We just had all of Team Arctic right here!” I laughed and said it was pretty cool for me, too. Thanks Rich!

Next on our agenda was to go on a boat ride on the St. Croix River. Bill Ness has a nice boat at the Bayport Marina. We cruised the river for a few hours, stopping at the new Stillwater bridge construction to admire the design of the pillars. Skime, always the engineer, had to check them out closely. We docked the boat in Stillwater and went up to a restaurant for lunch. 

Team Arctic Sno Pro reunion on Bill Ness's boat.

Team Arctic Sno Pro reunion on Bill Ness's boat.

This was the most I’d talked to Bill Ness in my life. I have a new appreciation for him and his role in our racing. As a Company endeavor that certainly consumed resources, racing “passed by his desk.” To his credit, Bill kept it going all those years, even when the money probably wasn’t there. And, of course, Skime implemented it, Decker promoted it, and then it was we four amigos to race it.

Saturday evening we met for steaks at Bill Ness’s house, a beautiful home on the Hudson side of the river with a deck that overlooks a spectacular view of river valley.

For this weekend I had asked all the guys to bring a piece of memorabilia, something they had saved all these years. We all shared some special photos and signed each other’s books. I brought a Thief River Falls newspaper from 1978 about Larry’s retirement, a brochure from our trips to Hawaii and Sweden and, of course, photos showing a bunch of young bucks with young faces.

Dave had been pretty quiet up until now and I asked him why.

“You don’t learn anything if you’re talking,” was his reply.

I laughed, then asked him to show me what he had brought. He had brought some nice photos of all of us, many we had never seen.

Next, I asked each guy to name their all-time favorite sled. To my surprise, Larry answered the 1978 Sno Pro “Mailbox” sled.

He said,  “Even though I quit racing before doing much with that sled, I was so impressed with its ability to steer when deep into a corner.”

That surprised me because he was Mr. Sno Pro in 1976, winning just about everything en route to the High Point title. I assumed he’d pick the gorgeous ’76 Sno Pro.

Bobby answered that his favorite was the ’73 EXT 650. “I won a lot of money on that sled,” he said.

Dave’s was the 1972 290 EXT. He too had won a lot of races with it and, like Larry, never really like the big sleds.

Roger couldn’t answer with one sled. He said he needed to break it down into eras. Each model had it’s special place.

My pick was the ’79 “Mailbox” Sno Pros. Even though I won my WC with a reworked ’81 Sno Pro, I always remember my near sweep at Eagle River in 1979. That day, those sleds were perfect!

The conversation continued to bounce around. We talked about the incredible team of engineers and mechanics that made our success possible: Dennis Zulawski, Roger Gage, Durmont Wahl, Duane Gram, Donn Eide, Richie Porter, Wayne Schantzen, Glenn Follett and many others.

Then I brought up the 50th anniversary at Eagle River that happened in 2013.

I had looked so forward to being on the track alongside Janssen and Elsner, me on my Phantom, Bobby on his ’79 Sno Pro and Roger on his ’69 Panther. While I did get to jam a little with Roger Janssen that weekend, Bobby never showed.

The Eagle River 50th was a huge deal for me. I had worked on the Phantom for a year in order to get it ready. Race-ready, actually. I’ll never forget the feeling when you leave the pits and enter the track, take the ski boots off and put that freshly sharpened carbides onto the ice. You become one with the track. I never wanted to let that feeling go, and I suppose I was disappointed that Bobby wasn’t alongside me that weekend. I wanted to share the experience with him.

On and on the conversations went. And for me, the biggest subject that I wanted to talk about stayed on the tip of my tongue: All weekend long - actually for many years - I wanted to tell these guys about my World Championship win in 1984…how it would not have happened without each one of them.

I wanted to tell them how, after my track spun on the start line that day, I had nearly given up, but instead drew my inspiration from them as I put my head down and charged for 25 laps.  

I wanted to share how, on that day in 1984, I had remembered a trick from Dennis Zulawski who, back in ’79, told me add an extra quarter-inch preload to the rear shocks so I would have better steering pressure for the closing laps.

How Larry taught me how to find the perfect feel in the clutch.

How David always paid attention to the small details, because they add up.

How Bobby’s tenacity gave me the inspiration to start dead last, pass the entire field in 12 laps and lead for 13 more.

I wanted to tell them how my life was changed by the whole experience of Team Arctic.

But I didn’t.

That final evening of our reunion ended without me mentioning any of that stuff. It just never felt like the right time. But now, as I write this, I’m kicking myself for not telling them right then. I need the world to know that I didn’t win the World Championship alone. I won the race with Ted Nielsen, but it was Team Arctic that got me there. More importantly, I need you to know that it wasn’t my World Championship. It was ours.

While I didn’t share everything that weekend, I’m grateful for what we did share, including the tears of laughter. It was a joyous weekend. My sorrow was knowing that it would end too soon. I wanted each conversation to last longer. I wanted us to stay up a little later and keep talking.

I didn’t want this weekend to end.

On Sunday morning, when it was time to leave, we all shook hands and agreed to meet in five years. God, I hope that happens. We’re older men now, and who knows what five years will bring?

I drove home, my head swirling with emotions.

Kris was there when I arrived. I walked into her arms and just started crying. I was so happy, but so sad it was over. It was a weekend that relived the biggest events of my life, with the people who were my biggest influences. 

Bill Decker, your dream to have all of us together came true.

I…no, WE can’t thank you enough.

Respectfully,

Bucky

 

Team Arctic Sno Pro reunion at the Zed Shed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Roger Skime points out a detail on the Sno Pro-inspired Kitty Cat to Bob Elsner.

 

Jim Dimmerman and Bob Elsner doing a selfie.

Jim Dimmerman and Bob Elsner doing a selfie.

Jim Dimmerman and Bob Elsner capture a selfie.

 

Team Arctic Sno Pro Reunion. Dimmerman, Elsner, Coltom, Thompson, Skime, Decker, Ness

Bob Elsner, Dave Thompson, Roger Skime and Larry Coltom share a laugh with John Vrieze, a former Arctic Cat cross-country racer who told a story about the help he got at one of the I-500 races in the 1970s.

Vrieze said, "Back then you guys were my heroes. I was just some farm kid who was racing snowmobiles."

To which Skime replied, "That's the same thing that we were!"

 

Team Arctic's Dave Thompson, Roger Skime, Jim Dimmerman, Bill Decker, Bob Elsner, Bill Ness & Larry Coltom. By ArcticInsider.com

Team Arctic Sno Pro Reunion. Dimmerman, Elsner, Coltom, Thompson, Skime, Decker, Ness

Team Arctic Sno Pro reunion at the Zed Shed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Team Arctic Sno Pro reunion at the Zed Shed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Yes, the stories were taller than the legends themselves.


Team Arctic Sno Pro reunion at the Zed Shed. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The crew poses with Zed Shed owner Rich Pederson (left) and friends.



Comments (74):

Dulpher says:
11/6/2014 3:37:00 PM

This was truly Fn Phenomenal! Great story! Thanks for sharing!!!
Ted Paterak says:
11/6/2014 3:45:00 PM

Simply Awesome.......Must have been a wonderful feeling to get together......Now all you guys need to do is build a new Champ 440 together !
Mike F says:
11/6/2014 4:04:00 PM

Just when I thought the stories couldn't get any better....WOW! Thank you all for sharing!
Marti Miller says:
11/6/2014 4:08:00 PM

Jim,

Great story. I followed Team Arctic for many years. I did business with you when you had the dealership. I was never successful oval racing like you were but loved it just the same. I am living large through my daughters now. Sara is still racing. She is moving up this year to the Pro Lite class. Thank you for the story, it brought back a lot of memories. Sara is a member of Team Arctic. Now that she has moved out of the Junior classes we can actually run Arctic Cat power now!
Rusty says:
11/6/2014 4:29:00 PM

Simply Awesome.
Kyle Hofland says:
11/6/2014 5:51:00 PM

Yet another great story that even left me with tears in my eyes.

Great story, Jim. Thank you all for sharing.

Kyle
Mary Feller says:
11/6/2014 6:21:00 PM

what a wonderful story! 40 years after I first set skiis to the track, I still feel the friendships made in those years were the dearest of my life. I was fortunate to have known & worked with & raced at the same time as these great guys! We all have wonderful memories! Thanks, Jim, for bringing this to us!
Paul Nadeau says:
11/6/2014 6:21:00 PM

Awesome story Jim, thank you for sharing with all of us! This story has brought tears to my eyes also ! Thank you John for the great photo's and the forum for Jim to share his story. Sure would have loved to hear the conversation during the visit at Rich's.
Jeff Smith says:
11/6/2014 6:36:00 PM

Very cool story and opportunity. Thanks for sharing.
Tom Rowland says:
11/6/2014 6:49:00 PM

It is doubtful that any other brand has passion and history that runs as deep and wide as what we all enjoy with Arctic Cat! Thank you Jim for sharing the memories of this in a way that only you can do, great stuff!
Tom Lawrence says:
11/6/2014 8:12:00 PM

Jim, thanks for the story, it was fun in those days. All the guys truly made a difference in the sport of snowmobiling, especially racing.
s.t.i.c.s.9 says:
11/6/2014 8:22:00 PM

WOW. What could I say that hasn't already been said? This story is a wonderful testament to the strong bonds that are built between people, all from that quirky little contraption that Edgar called a snow machine. It is true though, that Arctic Cat has a wonderful passion and history that really pulls their loyalists together.
Sharon Dyrdahl-O'Bryan says:
11/6/2014 8:27:00 PM

Awesome story! We have a lot of wonderful memories from our racing years!
Kelly Monier says:
11/6/2014 9:00:00 PM

Great story great to see everyone. Was very fortunate to have been around and seen such a great bunch of guys enjoying the great sport back in the day.
catman since 72 says:
11/6/2014 9:09:00 PM

As my user name should tell you, I have bled green for over 42 years. Thank you Jim. I have tears in my eyes I type this.
jeff schmidt says:
11/6/2014 9:41:00 PM

Jim
I remember chatting with you just days before this get together and i was
wondering how it turned out ?? Hope everyone's around for the next one
What history !! What memories !! I remember the day TEAM ARCTIC
hired you "in your garage" wow what memories !!! Thanks "Dimmerswitch"
and all the guys from TEAM ARCTIC into your past
AL JOHNSON says:
11/6/2014 9:45:00 PM

great story Jim.
Stephen Knox says:
11/7/2014 5:35:00 AM

Hey Jim, Hope all is well. Story of the year if you ask me. Snow is starting to fly on this side of the pond, have good winter and may all your turns be left!
Dale Schneider says:
11/7/2014 7:01:00 AM

Thanks for doing this, Jim. I consider it such an honor know, work with and work for many of the legends in your article. You are all inspirations.
Aaron Johnson says:
11/7/2014 7:04:00 AM

Absolutely awesome!! Great you guys were able ot do this.
B&K Motorsports says:
11/7/2014 7:42:00 AM

Great story Jim.Thanks.
David Schark says:
11/7/2014 9:55:00 AM

Thankyou Jim for the great read. This is by far the best story that I have read from any thing snowmobile related. I have been a avid vintage arctic cat collector since the early 90's known most of the arctic collectors. Just when you think you have seen and read it all something like this comes up. Thank you for sharing your experience with us and to John also for his great stories. Hat's off to you my friend. David Schark
Kyle Parton says:
11/7/2014 10:11:00 AM

Jim,
Great story, also brought tears!
Doug Lubahn says:
11/7/2014 10:12:00 AM

Thank you Jim for the sharing such a great story of this historic gathering of Team Arctic. Wish I could have been a fly on the wall so to speak. Like my fellow Michigan collector Schark above said- these types of stories and back stories are what makes this hobby and sport the best in the world.

It's the people all driven by the same passion and love for the sport and the brand.

Can't wait for the next reunion in 5 years and thanks for all the extra effort from back in the day. Doug Lubahn
Roger Skime says:
11/7/2014 10:15:00 AM

Jim - great story!! Didn't know that you were so articulate in expounding. Your excitement is so inspiring. I had a great weekend. It was awesome to see everyone.
Bill Decker - can't thank you enough for having the desire to get us together again after so many years.
Bill Ness - great to see you. Need to thank you again for your great racing support over so many years as CEO at Arctic Cat and thank you again for hosting us at your home.
Bob Elsner - Great to see you. Thanks for coming. You look pretty young Bobby.
David Thompson and Larry Coltom - I see you guy's more often, however it was great to spend time together and listen to your racing stories.
Thanks to all - Looking forward to the next reunion.
Roger H. Skime
Tim Benedict says:
11/7/2014 10:50:00 AM

Guys,
Glad you guys could get together again. Billy D. always told me it was some of the best years of his life and I have no doubt. What a great cast of characters and tremendous success in those days. I can still feel that heritage driving many people in this company today.
I Bleed Green! says:
11/7/2014 11:46:00 AM

I would have like to have been the chauffer for this get together, but I am pretty sure they wouldn't have liked the drooling, and my jaw hanging on the floor most of the day. Awesome group of guys.

THANK YOU to each and every one of you, and what you have brought to Arctic Cat over the years.

Joe from Ironwood says:
11/7/2014 12:23:00 PM

NICE. Thanks for sharing. Brings back lots of memories. I watched all you guys in Ironwood every year in early December. The one race I really remember, however, was in March in Ironwood. Team Arctic kicked butt that weekend.
Tom Steiner says:
11/7/2014 12:47:00 PM

Awesome story !
Chadek says:
11/7/2014 12:51:00 PM

The Times of our lives.It is Polaris in my veins but I sure feel the emotion of Warriors!
Lenny Moore says:
11/7/2014 1:37:00 PM

Wonderful article!! As a kid, these guys were my hero's and being located in MASS. there wasn't much racing around and I couldn't wait to get my race and rally or snotrack magazines to see all the new sno pro sleds and the drivers themselves. They truly were pioneers and serious, professional racers.
The equipment they had was just awesome and one of a kind.. Beautiful equipment!
To this day, I have Bob Elsner on the #1 Snopro sled as my screen saver at work..!! Great article and great racers!
Bob Carlson says:
11/7/2014 2:05:00 PM

What a fantastic reunion! And Jim, a tremendous job in capturing and documenting the story for the rest of us Team Arctic fans.
Brett Mallory says:
11/7/2014 2:25:00 PM

Great article! I probably would have passed out if I could have been in a room with all of my racing heroes at the same time. It's good to see you're all doing well. Jim: Your selfie with you and Bob really got my attention. Didn't the two of you do an ad that used a photo of you guys posed in about the same position? Any chance that's what you were thinking of? Thanks so much for sharing this story with us!
Pierre lacat says:
11/7/2014 2:57:00 PM

Awesome reunion without a doubt Arctic cat has the highest loyalty in the industry just having this Reunionhappening showing it once again! I am celebrating 45 years riding the brand nonstop! Bill wish you could come back as the CEO that they are looking for you are way better then that guy from Home Depot they just released!! Lol! Awesome story Jim keep up the good work!
Glen Mallory says:
11/7/2014 4:00:00 PM

I'm a little moist eyed reading this. Very cool. I think Jim should become a staff writer. Please do a book! Great prose. Reminds me of CJ Ramstaad's writing.
Jumpin92 says:
11/7/2014 6:05:00 PM

Fantastic. This is a family!
John Johnston says:
11/7/2014 6:19:00 PM

Thanks for letting us in on a very personal get together. As much as I am happy with reading about it I am more pleased that you guys got to spend the time together. What you did during those years was remarkable and you need to remember with each other. Don't wait for 5 years,,,,,,do it again in 2 years. Just show up at some event and surprise everyone.
Don Lingenfelter says:
11/7/2014 6:50:00 PM

Being the proud owner of a Dimmerman race sled I have talked to Jim several times. I would like to thank him for his congeniality and being like one of the guys every time we talk.

Thanks for the article Jim.

Don [aka Link]
Mike Mattson says:
11/7/2014 8:46:00 PM

Thanks for sharing this great moment with us with the photos and way you spent your time together. Great memories and you all look like you were having fun.
Rich Pederson says:
11/7/2014 10:09:00 PM

Thank you Jim for the excellent article and John for the great pictures!

It truly was an honor and a privilege to have the Zedshed be one of the stops for your reunion.

While the living legends of Arctic Cat looked over the collection of sleds - you could just feel the memories coming back and see the history in their eyes. Starting up the King Kat got everyone’s attention – back to full race mode! The stories flowed and the camaraderie was evident.

I was fortunate enough to have a father that bought our first Arctic Cat in 1971 and who was a true fan of oval racing. I closely followed Larry, Jim, Bob and Dave’s racing careers; attending races, collecting magazine articles and photos, never realizing I would have the opportunity to meet each one of them. The amount of Team Arctic posters and race pictures on the walls of Zedshed are a true testament to their legendary status.

When Roger Skime put his arm around me and told me he was proud of me – that was absolutely a memory I will never forget.

Bill Ness, Roger Skime, Bill Decker, Larry Coltom, Jim Dimmerman, Bob Elsner and Dave Thompson – you are welcome to stop back – anytime!

These men are true legends - they represent everything that is great about Arctic Cat.

You never have to wonder why we ride Arctic Cat.

Thank you Arctic Cat – past, present and future.

Rich Pederson
Zedshed
keni prasad says:
11/7/2014 10:45:00 PM

Hello:

Roger, Dave, Larry,Bill and others:
What a wonderful story of true friends reuniting and celebrating the legend of
" Team Arctic "
Beautifully written story! Jim!
keni prasad
Tom White says:
11/8/2014 4:59:00 AM

That was the best read I've had in some time. It's always great to see old friends getting together to remember the times of their lives.

Jim, you can feel the passion you have for these guys in your writing, it was almost like being there. I think you'd be the perfect person to write a book and share with us the memories of one of the greatest race teams ever.

John, I hope those were days off from work for you, it wouldn't be right to be getting paid to be there.

Tom
Greg Spaulding says:
11/8/2014 8:06:00 AM

Wonderfully written Jim, excellent story.

And John, as usual, your previous article was great.

Greg
SSX440 in S.D. says:
11/8/2014 5:36:00 PM

Great story guys! Thank you Jimmy D.for writing the story for us who "bleed green".This was truely a piece of Arctic Cat history! And thank you John for your great website,fantastic insight into what is happening behind the scenes. Always enjoy reading it. i It is a cryin shame that the boys from Sled Head 24/7 weren't there to tape this whole get together.You must know those guys John as they are in the metro Twin Cities area.This would've made a great TV episode,(if not a 1 hour,2 part episode!)This historic meeting could've been made into a DVD(like the 30yr.Snowmobile Hall of Fame,Ride with the Champs with Blair Morgan/Tucker Hibbert reunion)and sold thru Arctic Cat's parts and accessory catalog.As long as the "boys from Team Arctic" wouldn't mind a crew being around for "Team Arctic Reunion,The Boys are back in Town, Part II" in 5 years,how bout it,John?
Bill Vint says:
11/8/2014 8:42:00 PM

There aren't many snowmobile functions I'd care to attend, but I sure would have enjoyed sitting in on this party...what a group! My best to all of you guys/Bill Vint
Bill Ness says:
11/9/2014 9:53:00 AM

Thank you Bill Decker for coming up with the idea for the reunion and for being the greatest promoter ever for Arctic Cat and the race team.

Jim what a wonderful article. All the comments of your article are interesting are superb. Thank You.

Pictures do I have pictures. John Sandberg from the Arctic Insider created a flash drive of the pictures he took. Must be over 400. Thank you John.

Thank you Rich Pederson for showing us such great hospitality at the Zedshed. Seeing the race sleds really made our weekend.


Roger, a lot of your hard work as head of engineering showed up in all of the ZedShed machines. Thank goodness for all of us and for our consumers, that you designed Arctic Cat sleds for over 53 years.

Jim, Bob, Dave and Larry you were all wonderful men to work with and you were our" best warriors" every time you were on the track and hit the throttle.

Will see you guys in five years for another perfect weekend. God Bless.
Bill Ness

Duane Lillevold says:
11/9/2014 11:05:00 AM

Thank you Jim for your great piece of writing. You are a WC winner and your class shows in your writing. Maybe a new career in store for you?
It was really fun to see all the guys I worked with at Arctic Cat and to find out what they are doing now. To us folks who still "bleed green" your article brought back a lot of great memories.
Duane
Leon Raiter says:
11/9/2014 4:15:00 PM

Great article Jim, I enjoyed it very much and hope you will do more in the future. Seeing all you guys together with those sleds brought me back to that time and reliving the designs and design process all of us were involved in together that allowed us to develop these great looking sleds. I have since that time designed and developed a lot of different products, but I fondly look back at the time I spent at AC, the great products we worked on and all the friends and memories that were made during my employment there. If I didn't have to go find another job after the bankruptcy in 1980, I might still be there! It sure was a lot of fun working with all of you, t9hhanks for the memories!
Leon Raiter
mervyn jennett says:
11/9/2014 8:13:00 PM

it,s nice to see these guys once again, iremember going to peterborough ont. canada every january to see these guys race & in 1971 arctic cat won every race except 1 coltom, dimmerman , thompson, they could realy make those arctic cats go it brings back so many memories, idon,t remember bob elsner at that time but later i remember bob elsner all 4 were the best at that time. thank you guys for the memorys.
Jim Dimmerman says:
11/10/2014 7:29:00 AM

Thank you all Very, Very much.
The mystique of Arctic Cat was going on long before I arrived, I just added a little bit to the Litter Box..
It took me a month and some editing from John to prepare this article, it had to be just right.
I am certain that I speak for all of us, We are overwhelmed at the legions of loyal Arctic Cat Sno Pro fans. Thank You.

There is one "Tough Cat" that is no longer with us. I would be remiss not to include him as a huge part of Team Arctic, Charlie Lofton.

I know for sure, Edgar Hetteen would be proud...
Jim Dimmerman
Dave Guenther says:
11/10/2014 1:15:00 PM

Wow...great words Jim, and John a great interview with Bob , its so good to see this reunion happen. Life is about friends and spending time with one another, and this has to be one of the best articles Ai has had, they are all great, but this was over the top, I think i read them 4 or 5 times... great people, great memories, and a great product from 1962 till now,,, think of all the memories like this that have been made for people over time... thank you, we all appreciate it...very much.


Larry Coltom says:
11/11/2014 11:34:00 AM

Who would have thought a bunch of country boys would be called
legends. I started racing, cause I needed job. Thanks to cat, they gave
one. Little did I know, what a great job it would be.
Best of all, I met so many great people. Bill Ness, Bill Decker, Roger
Skime, Dave Thompson, Bob Elsner, the late Charlie Lofton & the silver
tongue Jim Dimmerman. See you all in 5 years

Larry
Greg Spaulding says:
11/11/2014 1:05:00 PM

Larry

Your really good ta write.

Greg
Bill Decker says:
11/11/2014 1:13:00 PM

Jimmy, you're a great writer. Thanks for documenting this reunion. Seeing you guys after 35 years was an experience of a lifetime. I will never forget my days with Team Arctic. I know Charlie was with us in spirit.
Auggie Musech says:
11/11/2014 4:53:00 PM

Bill, glad to see that your still in the game and we did have some great times working at Arctic. I learned a lot and met a lot of great people that helped me step up and get a great job at BMW of North America after Arctic fell. Would not of missed it for the world !!
Dave Thompson says:
11/12/2014 4:11:00 PM

Jim, what a great job putting your story together, when reading about your w/c win , I can still see it in my mind, seems like just a couple of yrs. ago. what a great weekend to spend with the old team! A big thank you to Bill D. for making this possible, also thanks to Bill N. for the boat ride and supper it was great. Also thanks to Rich Pederson for letting us tour his sled collection, lots of history! Guys, I sure hope we can do this again in five yrs. It was fun!
Alex says:
11/13/2014 7:31:00 AM

Amazing story with amazing people , Wish I could have been a fly on the wall for the trip back to memory lane!
Bruce J Johnson says:
11/13/2014 8:50:00 AM

Great article and pictures Jim ! After visiting the Zed Shed and talking to Rich I can only imagine what that reunion conversation must have like. Thanks !
DW says:
11/13/2014 9:26:00 AM

Dimmer, that was absolutely fantastic. My dad started me on Cats with a 1972 440 Puma with a Hooker Header. I eventually raced a little oval track in Western PA. The four of you were my absolute heroes. I couldn't wait for the new issue of Snow Week to arrive with the latest race results. I was in awe and teared up myself just reading this. I can only imagine what it would have like to be there with all of you together. You said that none of them really cared for the spotlight, but all of you earned your legendary status to us Team Arctic fans.
Frankie Tuttle says:
11/13/2014 10:05:00 AM

WOW ! What a Terrific walk down Memory Lane ! Thanks Toby Tuttle, for sharing. This story brought Strength back to the memories about your Grandpa Robert (Bob- Owner of Panther Sales & Svc_ Arctic Sports Center ) your Uncle Les ( Lesly) Tuttle ( Owner of Actic Cat Kenai Sales & Svc AND Les, bringing the first Snowmachine - Snow Travelor to Alaska ) and your Dad, Tom (Tommy) Tuttle and twin Brother Terry Tuttle whom, during their day, one of the BEST Arctic Cats Racers & Champion Winners for almost a decade. Running Arctic Cat ! Thanks for sharing Toby L Tuttle !



Bing jowett-- Canada says:
11/13/2014 11:25:00 AM

Thanks from Canada for sharing a great story: This; from a top dealer 71.-81. My wife and I won many wonderful trips with Arctic and had the pleasure of watching and meeting all. This copy will be inserted along with C.J. Ramstad four decades "Legend" -- I'm only 80 this year, so I expect to read about that reunion in 5 years!! CHEERS!
Jim Walsh says:
11/13/2014 8:40:00 PM

Great job Jim, This could be your second calling. I will check with Rich as to when that next meeting of you guys gets set up. I want to be there. Just visited Zedshed in September on the way to Haydays and Rich said he had to get the place cleaned up because the guys from Cat were coming. I could have never imagined that he was talking about this bunch, Wow. The conversations of these gentlemen should have been recorded, I bet we all could have learned a little about racing and life. Thanks Guys, see ya at the track.
Rick"Scratch" Wermerskirchen says:
11/13/2014 9:35:00 PM

Great article Jim!
It was great to see that you were able to get together again after so many years. All of you at Team Arctic were a class act and were my heroes back in the day. I remember going to Eagle River, Alexandria, and St Paul many times to cheer you on to victory. My favorite sled was the the 81 sno pro, but I loved them all. Seeing your photos sure gets me itching to go racing again.
Thanks for sharing!
Wayne Nicholsen says:
11/14/2014 9:33:00 PM

Jim you are a class act and gentleman. Throughly enjoyed the article and the stories. As a racer myself these were so heartfelt. Always look forward to seeing you each year at the ride.give my regards to John.
John Sandberg says:
11/15/2014 2:48:00 PM

One thing that strikes me about Team Arctic Sno Pro (during its heyday), the reunion 30 years later, Jim’s story and now the comments here, is how we all connect to it…the depth of that connection.

I was the adolescent kid who read the same dozen or so snowmobile magazines that we had in our house over and over again, staring at the pictures of these legends. Those pictures of those incredible machines, the expressions of the drivers’ faces and the leather gear they wore captivated me in a way that few things have before or since. They inspired in me a dream that I would one day ride or maybe even race a snowmobile that looked like THAT!

As the years ticked by that dream influenced dozens of decisions: the friends I chose; the money I saved (and what I spent it on); the education I got; the jobs I pursued; and what I did on the weekends.

I’m now 47 years old. My winters are filled with snowmobiles. My son races them. My friends are fellow riders. I live a quarter-mile from a trail. I have a website that’s focused on the entirety of it all. And in those moments when I daydream about what I want to do for the rest of my life, it’s still all about snowmobiles.

Where and who I am now happened in part because of what I saw in those magazine pictures more than three decades ago.

To everyone here, I say thanks. Truly, everyone. To the men who became legends; to Bill Decker for saying “The time is now,” and creating the reunion; to Jim for bringing the rest of us there with them; to Rich and the Zed Shed crew for hosting the perfect place to capture pictures; and to every one of you who shared in words what it means to you.
Andy Berends says:
11/15/2014 5:40:00 PM

Thank you Jim, article of the year is right! and John great pictures as always!

It's been a couple weeks now and it's still hard to believe the names that walked into the Zedshed. Jim when you talk about calling Rich afterward as we were sitting at the picnic table trying to take in what just happened. Trust me that has happened more then a few times as Rich and myself talk in the shop. A lot of things happen in the Zedshed but I can say this experience will be at the top of a long list.

Bill Ness, Roger Skime, Bill Decker, Larry Coltom, Bob Elsner, Dave Thompson, and Jim Dimmerman you are true legends and it was a privilege to meet each one of you.

Thank you all for the great memories and what you did for the sport and all Arctic Cat fans.

Andy Berends
Dave McIntosh says:
11/24/2014 7:09:00 PM

This is one of the most moving articles I have read. This is truly a reunion of the best of the best. Top Gun if you may referring to the best pilots that arctic cat has ever seen. I have the utmost respect for each and everyone of these great people. I met Roger at the 50th only to find out he is one of the most down to earth people that I have ever met. I have not had met the other legends in person but have followed them as a boy and even growing up. We breathe and bleed arctic cat green at our shop and always will. These legends of arctic cat racing and of arctic cat will forever be on my most admired list. Live long and I hope all of you make it to your next meeting in 5 years. Oh what I would give to be there with all of you. Thanks for a great article. Dave McIntosh of McIntosh Motorsports Pepin, WI.
Wm. Camp says:
2/18/2015 8:39:00 AM

Great article Jim, I enjoyed reading it as much as you enjoyed experiencing it.
Brings back so many great racing memories when you boys came North to run at the Kawartha Cup in Peterborough. You and your team mates were hero's to so many fans back in those days and I'm sure to so many like myself still are.
Thanks for taking the time to share with us the experiences and the photos ..........all fantastic. I'm sure that many of the guys would be hesitant to do so, but it's too bad someone would do a video where the team mates wuld share some of their History.
Regards
Wm. Camp
david karpik says:
10/30/2015 2:27:00 PM

Well, Bucky me boy... you can tell a story quite well... so much so I want to accuse you of ghost writing (as if Cj or Sandberg manipulated your pen) - but I can actually feel your emotions. You guys were, and are, all Great!!! Arctic Pride is real. Thankyou for sharing this awesome moment.
Max Bauer says:
12/9/2015 2:57:00 AM

I'm speechless, thanks for this great share Mr Dimmerman, all my childhood sno pro heroes gathered together in this beautifully written article. My dad Jos, had an Arctic Dealership in the 70's in Chibougamau, Quebec, Canada and watching you guys race through those old retractable company projectors and hugh promotional film cassettes gave me an edge on my junior races back in the day- also loved your focus, attitudes, talent and character. It reminded me fond memories.
Ian Corbett says:
4/8/2016 9:43:00 PM

Jim, thank you for sharing this. Great to see Team Arctic getting together to enjoy some great memories. My brother Dave and I were independents racing Thunder Jets from Canada and everyone on Team Arctic always made us welcome when we raced in the US even though we were not racing Arctic. There was never any hesitation to help us out. Their generosity was demonstrated by their invitation to hitch a ride with them on the Arctic plane to go to Jim Adema's funeral which I so much appreciated.
Team Arctic are true legends of the sport but more important they were all first class gentlemen and great ambassadors for the sport.
Thanks for everything.
Ian Corbett
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Bob Persson says:
8/5/2016 2:23:00 PM

Hallo all of you:
Thanks so much Jim for letting me know about your reunion!
Great to read about you and I can assure you that I have quite often been thinking about the years with Arctic. Today - It feels as if we had great fun no matter how hard the work might have been. To have you in Team Arctic over in Scandinavia was fantastic for us working with snowmobiles and for all the snowmobilers that came!
Best regards, Bob Persson, Östersund, Sweden.
Arctic, european distributor 76 -82. PS. Hope Edgar could see you when you met.
Usko Sarre says:
2/17/2017 4:22:00 PM

Thanks Jim. Exellent write-up and what a great reunion of a people who made big part of Arctic-Cat racing history in Cat's first run. We here oveseas just heard rumours, and if lucky, saw some pics, about those legendary big names. Also Sno-Pro Scandinavian tour made quite fever here to ovalracing, with big part of biggest USA legends on grid.
Have to remember, that SnoX was by far the biggest type of snowmobile racing here in Scandinavia generally, and it was/is completely different world to switch over to Ice with studs and start turn left. Anyway you guys were and are legends here and maybe today more than ever.
It was also moving to read that article, because it brings up one of the best part of racing. Once you get frends from people around you, all the gang working hard, racing hard, thinking together solutions to common broblems, and so on, with same goal, it makes lifetime frendships. You can be apart decades, and when you meet, all starts from where it was, because of so much common memories. Well, maybe bit more gray hair thou. Thanks again. Usko Sarre, Cat racer, Finland.
Skip Albanese says:
8/18/2017 1:24:00 PM

Fantastic article. I Truly enjoyed reading it.

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