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Snowmobile Hall of Fame Weekend 2015


(2/19/2015)

The 2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame/Ride With The Champs weekend took place recently in St. Germain, Wis., where racers, riders, collectors and inductees gathered to celebrate the sport of snowmobiling.

This annual event continues to expand its range of offerings while simultaneously providing participants the opportunity to ride the beautiful north woods of Wisconsin, talk with many of the sport's most famous racers, see some truly wonderful and rare racing equipment, mix it up with old friends and meet new ones.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The Friday Poker Ride is one of the ways SHOF weekend has expanded in recent years. Based out of the SHOF museum, this ride continues to grow in part because it samples some of the classic trails in this area.

While much of the Midwest has suffered the crappiest winter in recent memory, the Wisconsin's north woods have enjoyed rideable snow for most of the winter.

This was one of those weekends in which snowmobilers were EVERYWHERE, in groups that ranged from a few sleds up to a couple dozen. Frankly, it was a sight for my sore eyes, as I'd gotten a little jaded about the lame winter and my enthusiasm had scrubbed a bit.

Seeing snow, snowmobiles and smiles was all it took to put me back into full-gas mode.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

As is usually the case on SHOF/RWTC weekend, the museum was abuzz with people checking out the amazing collection of sleds and memorabilia.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The museum mixes up their display each year from their rotating collection. This year's theme is cross-country, so many historic machines (from the collection or on loan) were on display, including a bunch of I-500 winners. In this photo is the 1979, 1978, 1977, 1976 and 1966 winners.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

On the left is Bruce Olson's 1980 I-500-winning Polaris Indy. On the right, one of Gerard Karpik's Ski-Doo XCRV racers. On the wall behind, a collection of pictures, results and I-500 paraphernalia provided by race afficianado Jess Babler.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

I find it pretty remarkable that men (and women) raced these buggies 500 miles.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Saturday is a jam-packed day during SHOF weekend. It begins bright and early with a breakfast prior to Ride With The Champs.

RWTC includes several trail rides of various lengths in which participants ride and hang out together during pit stops. Famous racers and industry people participate, offering fans like us the chance to talk with them about whatever suits our fancy.

This year there were several I-500 champs and World Champs among the group.

It's one of the coolest rides I do all season, and it's an experience I recommend to anyone interested in snowmobile racing history.

After breakfast, all the participants gathered for a group photo.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

There's a great mix of new and vintage iron at RWTC. The beauty is that this event caters to both groups.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Like I mentioned earlier, SHOF weekend offers a chance to connect with old friends. One such example for me this year was Brad Warning, who showed me his SWEEEEET Arctic Cat ZR9000 El Tigre, complete with carbon fiber bodywork and a host of Brad Hulings-built goodies.

Despite having what is one of the trickest ZRs I've seen, Brad was probably most jazzed about the stock electric heated seat on this sled.

I've heard it said from multiple sources that Brad has a hot ass. I'm not sure, but I think those remarks must be about his heated seat.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Despite half the snowmobiling population of Minnesota and Wisconsin riding in the area, the trails were smooth and mostly great during the 300 miles I logged during the weekend.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

One of my favorite parts of the weekend was riding with 1977 I-500 champ Archie Simonson, who was absolutely railing it aboard a replica of his race winning Polaris TXL.

No exaggeration: Archie was dusting our group of riders who were on the latest and greatest. It was pretty impressive.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Ryan (left) and Allen Teach were two other friends that I had the pleasure of riding with during the 150-mile trip to Lake Gogebic. The son/father duo had a pair of 1997 ZR 440s that were as nice and capable as anything on the trails that day.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

After the rides finish on Saturday, it's time for the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, beginning with an autograph session with the assembled dignitaries.

Here 1984 World Champ (and 2010 SHOF inductee) Jim Dimmerman chats with Mark Zelich, 2015 inductee.

Zelich was the sports director for a Wausau, Wis., television station who created weekly coverage of Wisconsin's great snowmobile races from 1966 to 1987.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Here's a pretty cool photo of past I-500 cross-country winners. From L-to-R: Herb Howe (1966); Stan Hayes (1973); Brian Nelson (1976 & 1978); Archie Simonson (1977); and Bruce Olson (1980).

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Here SHOF president Craig Marchbank (left) awards 2015 inductee Herb Howe his plaque, of which an exact copy now hangs on the wall of the museum.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Bob Enns (right) was another of the four inductees for 2015. The Enduro Team Deere cross-country winner from the 1970s shares a laugh while presented this photo of him doing a "scorpion" at race back in the day.

Enns was a truly great competitor and is a really likeable guy. There was a HUGE contingent of Deere racers and fans that came to see his induction.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Pat Mach was the fourth inductee for 2015, albeit posthumously. Pat founded USCC and re-launched cross-country racing (as well as the I-500), along with the family and friends who were at the SHOF to accept the award. That's Pat's son, Adam, holding the plaque.

Every once in awhile there's an induction speech that brings tears to the crowd. This year it happened when Pat's dad (left, front row) talked about his son. It was both beautiful and hard to listen to.

 

2015 Snowmobile Hall of Fame & Ride With The Champs. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The 2015 SHOF inductees (L-to-R): Bob Enns, Herb Howe, Mark Zelich and Pat Mach (represented by son Adam).

Congratulations to these people and their families!

Thanks for reading.



Comments (5):

fast f800 says:
2/19/2015 4:41:00 PM

ive had this on my bucket list for years. finally going to cross it off next year. looks fun.
Mike F says:
2/19/2015 6:08:00 PM

I sure do miss Pat Mach........Congratulations to all the inductees and their families. You made a difference.
Paul Nadeau says:
2/19/2015 6:20:00 PM

Thanks for the great story and photo's John! Congratulations to all the inductees and their families. You made a huge difference.




MNCAT says:
2/20/2015 8:39:00 AM

Congratulations to all of the inductees. So happy to read that Pat was included. Growing up I watched Pake, Hibbert, Scheele, Fyle, Sandberg, battle on the lakes and in the ditches of MN, dreaming of one day being like them. Had it not been for Pat I would have never been able to pursue and achieve a lifelong dream of racing. He truly provided a haven for us and I will forever be great full. Though cross country racing has carried on after his passing, for this rider it's lost that connection or closeness that it once had. Pat embodied the sport of snowmobile racing and was a true ambassador of the sport in every way possible. He never made his racers feel as if they were part of a show. Instead he left us feeling like family and he genuinely cared that everyone came in safe. Congratulations Mach family. You guys are always in my prayers.
Ryan Teach says:
3/8/2015 10:38:00 PM

A very enjoyable weekend. If you look close you will see (or could see) a pool of red blood like fluid under my machine at that point. Opting to remove my oil injection I carried two bottles of red oil in the rear storage. After the bumps of the first half they both managed to puncture leaving oil seeping from under my seat, pooling on the boards, and making my ZR look like a machine straight from from "Saw IV"... Great riders and very friendly people!

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