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Ode to Rocky "Rox" Cutsforth (R.I.P.)


(5/28/2010)

Rocky on his project Crossfire

The news is as shocking to write now as it was when I first heard about it: On Thursday, May 20, 2010, Rocky Cutsforth (42) of Cohasset, Minn., died from injuries sustained in an ATV accident near Nemo, South Dakota.

Rocky is the guy behind ROX Speed FX, and who imagined and built wickedly-cool stuff for snowmobiles, ATVs and motorcycles. His talent for design, craftsmanship and ergonomics was unique in the motorsports industry, and the niche he carved was deep.

Rox custom/concept Arctic Cat Prowler

Rocky also built many, incredible "concept" ATVs and Snowmobiles for Arctic Cat.

Rocky gracing the cover of Pride Magazine, Oct. 2006

If you didn't know Rocky for the products he sold, you probably saw his amazing skill and machines on display in the pages of snowmobile and ATV magazines, as he was often featured in both during the past half-dozen years. Rocky's stuff was always dialed-in perfectly. His bikes, sleds, clothing... everything was mint.

If you're an Arctic Cat fan, you've seen Rocky for several years as one of the riders featured in the company's advertising photography for both its snowmobiles and ATVs. Rocky, along with his good friend and legendary Team Arctic racer Aaron Scheele, are two of the riders who do the amazing maneuvers that you see on Arctic Cat's Website and printed brochures and such.

Rocky climbing for Arctic Cat

In fact, it was during an Arctic Cat photo-shoot that Rocky crashed, sustained internal injuries and died. At Rocky's funeral this week, Aaron Scheele spoke of the accident, saying that Rocky was on an ATV when it happened; that he'd crashed while being filmed riding on a trail; and that he died without much pain.

Sheele also talked about how he and Rocky were fueled by the sensation of riding at their limits and the limits of their machines. I've had the great fortune to ride with both these guys, and I'm here to tell you that Rocky was one of the most calculating and capable riders I've seen. He was the consumate professional, able to do things on a vehicle that most of us would never dream of, yet be perfectly in-control at every moment.

Rocky, in complete control while Jumping Kale's Ford Focus

In fact, during the four years that I've known Rocky, he always struck me as being in control at all times, no matter what the situation. Even when he was goofing around, like two years ago at Snow Shoot when five (yes, five) of us rode "Bob" the Bearcat for 40 miles one afternoon, Rocky was in control as the driver.

Rocky driving Bob, with four of us riding passenger

For many who have learned of Rocky's passing, myself included, it's difficult to understand how someone so talented at riding could have crashed doing something as "routine" as riding a trail. But I think what we're really questioning is our own mortality... our own very thin thread that each of us hangs from.

When someone we know dies at too young an age -- especially when it happens during an activity that we ourselves participate in -- it gives us pause to consider our own lives, our own close calls. There but for the grace of God go I...

Death also moves us to think of the living, and many people have thought much about -- and prayed for -- Rocky's wife (Lynn) and children (Colton and Makenzie). Their grief is immense and their challenges are daunting, but it warmed my heart to see the hundreds of family and friends embrace them during Rocky's funeral, and to see the strength of their faith in God. Tough times are ahead, for sure, but they're equipped with a love and strength that are greater than life itself.

The last time I saw Rocky was during the WOBLE vintage snowmobile ride from my house to Waconia this past winter. Rocky spent the night at my house along with our friends Kale Wainer, Scheele and Rusty Eichorn. While getting our gear ready the night before the ride, Rocky donned the old helmet and jacket his mom used to wear.

Rocky goes retro and goofball on the eve of WOBLE

He looked so... goofy. We were all rolling with laughter, in part because he looked so different than the everything-is-dialed-in-and-perfect Rocky that we were accustomed to seeing.

Rocky ponders a piston swap while Aaron Scheele looks on

Rocky rode a '75 el Tigre for half the WOBLE, before an untimely burndown meant it had to be loaded onto the trailer and swapped for a loaner sled, which he rode for the remainder of the day.

Rocky with snotscicles, and how I'll always remember him

Wearing an open-faced helmet with his name written on duct tape and placed upside-down on front... a dorky face mask (that had snotscicles hanging from it)... his Team Arctic poncho flapping in the wind as he bounced along the ditch...

...that's a good memory for me and one I'll cherish.

Godspeed Rocky Cutsforth.



Comments (18):

Kale says:
5/28/2010 8:39:00 PM

Well done Sandberg. The WOBLE reminds me of a photo of Rocky I took at your house. I placed one of your daughters dolls under his arm while he was sleeping on the upper bunk. :)
Chase says:
5/28/2010 9:18:00 PM

wow thats so sad..
Beth Schutt says:
5/29/2010 7:26:00 AM

Thank You for writing this, It just shows again how much he was loved and will be missed. Rocky was a Phenominal man and will be greatly missed in our family. I thank God that he gave him to our family for the time he did. Everyone that ever knew or met Rocky was blessed to have known him. His talent and passions were amazing and it reflected on everything he did. Your faith in God is what is helping all of us get through this because we all know you are with him! RIP Rocky, we all love and miss you.
Rynetta (Cutsforth) Carter says:
5/29/2010 10:36:00 AM

Thank you for sharing these thoughts and photographs of my brother. It's heartwarming to hear how many people know who the real Rocky was. He was so worth knowing! He is so missed. But he lives in our hearts and our memories and is very much alive on the 'other side'. We look forward to our Great Reunion!
Dean Meyer says:
5/29/2010 1:33:00 PM

Nice memoir of Rocky. Grant and I have only known Rocky for a few years through work and Arctic Cat. It is hard to imagine him no longer being a part of their photo shoots. Its obvious he was thought of very highly by several people throughout the industry. He was everything you mentioned. All of us at Waconia Farm Supply are thinking of his family and friends. If there is a memorial set up for his children...please post the info. Godspeed.
Bill Ruesink says:
5/29/2010 10:09:00 PM

I knew Rocky when we used to race BMX and ride "Freestyle" back in the 80's. A few years back I moved back to the area and started riding quads with Rocky, Josh Barsness and Jeff Eischens and learned soon not to try to keep up with him. He introduced me to ice racing on the pond by his house and got to meet some of his friends such at Kale and Rob. I was laid-off at my job and Rocky offered me some work at the ROX shop. It was only for a few weeks but I got to know his great family while I was there and will always be thankful for the time I had there. Like many people, it will be hard to ride again without thinking of him.
Hollyann Olson says:
5/30/2010 12:36:00 AM

Beautiful article! These pictures show Rocky in a well rounded scope. I especially appreciate the photo of Rocky in Marlyce's helmet and jacket! Rocky always found ways to make people laugh. He definitely had a way of making things more interesting. Rocky will be deeply missed.
Tom Rowland says:
5/30/2010 7:56:00 AM

The loss of Rocky will be felt far and wide. He contributed so much to his family, friends and the industry that we are all so passionate about. I will continue to keep his family and friends in my prayers during this difficult time.
81snopro says:
5/31/2010 7:29:00 AM

Godspeed Rocky. May you rest in peace.......
Chad Colby says:
5/31/2010 12:24:00 PM

Well said John, thanks for sharing. Godspeed Rocky.
dann says:
6/2/2010 7:16:00 PM

R I P Rocky Rox Cutsforth you made some pretty trick stuff.

I really like the CFR 800 you did up with the racer seat.
Brien Spanier says:
6/8/2010 7:29:00 AM

Great article John. Having worked on all the Arctic Cat photoshoots with him, Rock was indeed the most calculated rider you could imagine. But as you described, he was always sure to do something goofy to make everyone laugh...including himself. Thanks for sharing.
Nick Simpson says:
6/8/2010 9:26:00 AM

Great article John. Rocky was a great rider and even better person!
From his facebook page, there is a memorial fund set up:
All friends interested in contributing towards the Rocky Cutsforth Memorial Fund can send contributions to the following address;
American Bank
1215 South Pokegama
PO Box 160
Grand Rapids,
MN 55744
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/rockycutsforth?ref=ts

Godspeed Rocky!
Matt Allred -- Snowmobile.com says:
6/10/2010 10:43:00 PM

Well written John. You have always been a master writer. Rocky, from a professional's point of view, always delivered the goods. When asked to take one for the team, that is take a drop, or pitch an M-Cat into the frigid ozone, he did -- happily so. We, Team Allred will miss him at Photoshoot. To Cat: thanks for choosing a good man to represent your products so well on the mountains and in the steep and deep. Thanks Rocky, for all you did for us. -- Matt Allred, Snowmobile.com
Jared Hibbert says:
6/12/2010 10:17:00 PM

one of the best 40 mile I have ever spent on a sled! good job sandburg. thanks Rocky for the fun times!!!
Randy Vannet says:
6/13/2010 2:55:00 PM

Rocky was and still is my closest and most trusted comrade in life. I catch myself daily thinking things like "I'll save this until the next time Rocky's here" or "If I did this or bought this or rode this or went here what would Rocky think?" Not until his passing did I ever realize how much of my life was entwined with his. Even when we didn't talk for weeks when we hooked up we'd pick up right where we left off. Always planning ahead of things we would do, projects, toys, places to go, new experiences to have... One of the things that I missed out on was last winter's wobble ride. After Rocky got back he said to me YOU HAVE TO DO IT NEXT YEAR! YOU CAN'T MISS IT! I guess I'm gonna have to round up a vintage sled...
kdub says:
6/30/2010 1:28:00 PM

Ditto Randy. Join us on the WOBLE next year. Wear your vintage fuzzy Cat helmet!! Dont miss it!!!
Melinda Nye says:
3/21/2017 6:44:00 AM

Hi - not even sure anyone will be reading these comments after so many years, but still thought I would post. I'm Rocky's younger sister, Melinda. With this coming Saturday, 3/25, being Rocky's birthday he's been on my mind. But also because last year God saw fit to time it perfectly that we brought two brothers into our home on 3/25 and adopted them officially last year. So, this Saturday is their Gotcha Day. It is so very special to me that it landed on Rocky's birthday. I decided to Google Rocky Cutsforth this morning and yours is the first article I came across. It was such a sweet article and such a blessing to read. I miss my brother very much. He loved me like I didn't deserve to be loved, even though I was very different from him personality-wise - ever the serious one. In a lot of ways, he gave me the courage to just be me, because I was still loveable that way. I so wish he could meet my boys, Eli (9) and DJ (5), on this side of heaven, but that's not to be. DJ is a whole lot like him and actually talks a lot about Rocky even though he has never met him. Hope someone gets to read this, but regardless it was still cathartic to write it. :-)

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