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See You Later, Hunter


(1/10/2017)

Hunter,

I’m writing this a few hours before the visitation prior to your funeral.

There I’ll see your family. And by family, I mean the BIG family. Friends...racers...teammates. And of course your immediate family: parents Charlene and Steve; and your siblings Lucas, Jeremy, Larry and Jennifer.

Forgive me if I don’t go to the casket and see you tonight though. Because right now I only want to see you as the funny, vibrant 18-year-old goofball.

I see you holding your nephews in the Arctic Cat booth at Hay Days. A lot of teenagers would never be caught holding a toddler in such a public place as that. But not you. You couldn’t grab and love them up fast enough. You were so proud of them and so clearly in love with them.

I see you at the USXC banquet in 2014. It was before we became friends. You had just won the first of what would be many class championships. When Scott Schuster was introducing you, he talked about the big footsteps you were following in, made by your grandfather Charlie Lofton and by your dad. I remember being so impressed at your calmness as well as the sincerity of appreciation you expressed that night in front of your peers. You had the voice of a 15-year old kid, but the words you spoke were those of a thoughtful young man.

I see you the next season at the Pine Lake race, throwing the #1 sign as you race past a photographer on your way to victory. Your mom Charlene was SO mad at you for that display of cockiness. As a parent I understood her sentiment, but as someone who had started really getting to know you, I loved your brazen spirit. You were damn cocky at times, but your attitude wasn’t abrasive or arrogant. Rather, it always seemed to me that you were quietly smirking and winking whenever you talked big, like you were simple role-playing and it was all an inside joke.

I have another vision of you at Pine Lake...this time standing next to your dad while your brother Lucas sits on his sled, early Saturday morning last year. I’ve spent a career watching various Houles race snowmobiles, and I gotta say that you’re the most colorful of them all.

I see you at another USXC banquet, this time in 2015. You’re walking up to get another award with an ArcticInsider decal that I tagged on your back, without you knowing. You laughed about it, and then retaliated by tagging me back with Speedwerx decals 100 times over! I kept the #202 decal you put on my truck bumper because I thought it was cool and funny.

I see you at the hotel in Park Rapids during that race weekend. You, Cal and Matt are gorging yourselves on pizza while talking about how we’re all going to form the ArcticInsider Factory Team, complete with a 53-foot semi and umbrella girls.

I see you wearing that god-awful black-and-pink jersey and pant combo at last year’s Warroad race. They looked like pajamas, a fact that a dozen or so people expressed to you. I loved that you wore it, and that you didn’t give a shit about what other people said.

I see you at the mountain bike races. One that sticks out is the time you pushed your bike up the nasty climb at River Falls, and a couple hours later when you stood on top of the podium after having won your first race! And for sure I see you standing next to my truck after all those other MTB races, both of us talking about how painful and hard and fun it was. 

I see you wearing your dad’s old leather Yamaha racing jacket during the Snowmobile Hall of Fame auction last February, just before he was inducted. Not many 17-year-olds would wear their dad’s old clothes in a room packed with a few hundred people, but you loved it and wore it with pride.

I see some of your classic Facebook posts, like the one of you wearing another of your dad’s old racing jackets along with a fake mustache. And the one of you and Amber dressed up for prom and wearing those awesome sunglasses.

I see you standing next to Lucas, alternating between treating him as a friend or as a younger brother. Sometimes brothers can be a pain in the ass. But it was also apparent that you loved all your brothers, and that you looked out for and gave special care to Lucas.

I see you racing down a ditch or across a lake. Damn, you're fast and smart and that's why you win so many races.

I so clearly see you being a genuinely great friend to my son Calvin. You don’t care that he’s three years younger, or that he isn’t the fastest snowmobile racer. I see you two after the Buck Hill mountain bike races, going up to Kwik Trip where you’ll buy a box of gross gas station donuts, some cheap Faygo soda pop and a bowl of soup. Soup?!? Why did you always buy soup after a summertime bike race? And I see you two goofing around after the 2016 USXC banquet, holding Calvin in your arms on the podium. Yet again, you never seemed to care what others thought, you just acted like a cornball and had fun with it all.

I see your grin...always your grin.

What I can’t see is you being gone. Or maybe I simply don’t want to see it.

So I’ll hold fast to these beautiful memories and simply say, I’ll see you later my friend.

 

Hunter Houle

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

Hunter Houle

Hunter Houle

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

Hunter Houle

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

 

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.

Hunter Houle, photo by ArcticInsider.



Comments (46):

Alex says:
1/10/2017 3:24:00 PM

Amazing..
Bob Pallansch says:
1/10/2017 3:52:00 PM

Very nice, I am sure tough write!! I never got the chance to meet Hunter, except right after he was born when I was down at Hot Seat alot!! I know Steve, Charlene and Jermey,and my heart has been hurting for them and the rest of there family since I heard the bad news!!Ride on Hunter!!
Hammer and LumberHead says:
1/10/2017 4:13:00 PM

A tip of the touque to Johnny for another great piece of writing. We may never have met Hunter but through your words we understand how much of a treasure he was. Our thoughts and our prayers are with the entire Houle family during this difficult time. Our hearts are with you.
Trent Follmer (TSG) says:
1/10/2017 4:25:00 PM

I only had the pleasure of talking with Hunter a couple of times while working with Jeremy and the rest of the guys at Speedwerx. But just in those couple times, I could tell he was a great kid and a great personality. I regret getting to know him more while I had the chance. Godspeed, rest in peace Hunter.
Bob Menne says:
1/10/2017 5:07:00 PM

Well done John!
Shawn Hopkins-563 Motorsports says:
1/10/2017 5:14:00 PM

John, Reading this made me feel like I knew Hunter. This is one of the most beautiful tributes anyone could write about anyone. May God bless and comfort you all.

Shawn Hopkins
Megan Campbell
And family
563 Motorsports
Mike Feil says:
1/10/2017 5:23:00 PM

Right on the money John! I was laughing and crying at the same time...Godspeed Hunter!
Bob Vojvodich says:
1/10/2017 5:23:00 PM

So sorry to hear about the loss of Hunter. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Houles.
Dave Nehring says:
1/10/2017 5:41:00 PM

Nailed it, John!

Rest easy, Hunter - you are missed by many.
Sven says:
1/10/2017 6:11:00 PM

I can't find words other than sorry for the loss of your friends. Amazing farewell. Thank you for all you do.
Darren & Carrie Hedlund says:
1/10/2017 6:21:00 PM

Thank you for writing what you "see"...perfect tribute. Our hearts hurt. Godspeed, Hunter.
Dawn says:
1/10/2017 6:24:00 PM

What a great tribute John, you have a way with words that many of us wish we could put together. Rest in peace Hunter, you will be missed.
Paul Nadeau says:
1/10/2017 6:27:00 PM

Thank you John for introducing us to Hunter Houle. By what you wrote he is an amazing young man taken from this world way to early. My deepest sympathies to his family at this time. My prayers are with them and with all who knew him. May God bless everyone.
Strand Enterprises says:
1/10/2017 6:35:00 PM

We are all one big family, it is at this time when we all pull together for Hunter and family, prayers for all.
Virgil Rannow says:
1/10/2017 6:38:00 PM

That was great letter (tribute) to Hunter. ?
Chad Colby says:
1/10/2017 6:51:00 PM

John what a great letter, thank you. Sending our thought and prayers to entire Houle family.
Kale says:
1/10/2017 7:22:00 PM

Well said John. Well said.
Shawn Thompson says:
1/10/2017 7:23:00 PM

I am crying and I never knew Hunter. I am crying because his siblings are going to so miss there awesome brother whom they looked up to and because as a parent, I cannot imagine the pain that these parents are going through. What a shame and tragic loss.
Only Jesus can truly heal this family.
Dean Meyer says:
1/10/2017 7:57:00 PM

So incredibly sad. John, your words and insight to Hunter's life are amazing. It's impossible to make sense of it all. Godspeed Hunter
Noel Schanilec says:
1/10/2017 8:05:00 PM

Well Done!
Katrina Miller says:
1/10/2017 8:08:00 PM

Rest In Peace?Hunter. I didn't know you very well but from what I know you are an amazing kid.
lee says:
1/10/2017 8:31:00 PM

i didnt know you hunter but i know the family you came from and have no doubt that not didnyou family lose a great person but the world as well.

may god grant you peace and heal your family and friends broken hearts.
lee says:
1/10/2017 8:32:00 PM

....not only did your family lose...
Blyerg says:
1/10/2017 8:56:00 PM

Wow. That hits the heart John! Godspeed Hunter! You will obviously be missed by many! Ride on!
Athmann 898 says:
1/10/2017 9:06:00 PM

Never met Hunter but was apart of team Arctic and we're all family here. But John wow amazing writ up I felt like I knew him after that! Ride on Hunter#202 you'll definitely not be forgotten!????
Flintstone says:
1/10/2017 9:08:00 PM

We have an obligation to move this sport forward! It's what we love, it's what we believe in. There is nothing more fun then snowmobiling. We have faced many losses the last 50 years and we pray for this not to happen. We all believe in god and we all believe in heaven and we all believe in the joy snowmobiles bring to us and we hate accidents. We accept the responsibility of our machines and do not blame the sport. Amen
Mike Mattson says:
1/10/2017 9:22:00 PM

We are very sad about this bad accident. Our hearts go out to the family. Thanks for putting together this John.
Judy Dick says:
1/10/2017 10:36:00 PM

Thank you John, for sharing such beautiful memories of Hunter. Your stories and pictures helped me see the incredible young man that he was. So very sad. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Houle family.
Chad McIntyre says:
1/11/2017 3:39:00 AM

Very sorry for the loss of young Hunter, my condolence to the, Houle family and extended Speedwerx family. A beautify written goodbye that shows a genuine young man. Godspeed

M&M Power Sports Crew
Scott Schuster says:
1/11/2017 6:35:00 AM

Thank you John for your wonderful words Hunter was such a great young man and so wonderful to work with at each and every race his wit and humor made him so fun to be around I feel honored to have known him
Todd U says:
1/11/2017 8:48:00 AM

Very nice tribute/letter. My condolences to all of you that knew Hunter and to the entire Houle Family. God Bless.
Ryan Weidemann says:
1/11/2017 8:55:00 AM

Thank you for eloquently writing what will be a lasting tribute to a fine young man.
Steve Cowing says:
1/11/2017 9:46:00 AM

Thanks John for the "insider" look at who Hunter was and how he'll be remembered. See you in an hour
Bryan Rocheleau says:
1/11/2017 11:41:00 AM

Awesome Story John!

Gods Speed Hunter!
rusty eichorn says:
1/11/2017 11:41:00 AM

So nicely said John. I will share with the family the dragonfly story in the future. It may provide some comfort going forward.
Rusty says:
1/11/2017 1:25:00 PM

Ride on #202
Kim Lundeen says:
1/11/2017 3:13:00 PM

Great read John!

RIP Hunter
Jesse W says:
1/11/2017 3:16:00 PM

Godspeed Hunter #202

That was a great read, thanks sharing the memories
Andy Moyle says:
1/11/2017 3:42:00 PM

What a beautiful letter. I didn't know Hunter but I feel like I do after reading this - the letter is that good. I love the impression of Steve in the Coldwave leather/Hotseat hat picture! He obviously had a great sense of humor and seems to have been smiling in every picture that anyone caught him in. I also know that he comes from a great family that I've gotten to know a little over the years, and all of you are in our thoughts and prayers. May God bless you all.
Russ Bode says:
1/11/2017 7:57:00 PM

I did not know him,but what a great kid,you said it well John.
May God be with his family.
Dave Dukey. "Duke" says:
1/11/2017 8:22:00 PM

Very well said and written, I have been in the snowmobile racing family fir a long time and even worked for Steve for awhile. Steve and Charlene R super people and all their kids R the same as their parents . Only meet Hunter when he was a young boy but he had the Houle look and grin, I'm sure he was a fine young man. GOD SPEED Hunter Houle
Gail G says:
1/11/2017 9:13:00 PM

RIP Hunter.
Awesome tribute John.
God Bless.
Hilary Kruger says:
1/11/2017 9:39:00 PM

Sending my deepest sympathy to Hunter's family and friends.
The Cat Kid says:
1/11/2017 11:11:00 PM

Very touching to a tribute to a fine young man who was taken from us way too early:-( God bless the Houle Family!!!
Brian H says:
1/12/2017 4:15:00 AM

Great tribute,to a fine young man.
Race in peace,godspeed.
527 Racing
Tatum Hax
Brian Hax
Brad Maus says:
1/12/2017 12:24:00 PM

John, this has to be the hardest part of your job and you have done it with great character and dignity. Didn't know Hunter, but he was family. The one blessing from this tragedy is that there must be snow cat racing in heaven cuz someone recruited a legend
Godspeed Hunter

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