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Two Days Inside Arctic Cat: The October 2012 Edition


(10/11/2012)

Near Tucker's birthplace of Rollag

Driving through the fertile Red River Valley towards Thief River Falls, harvest was in full swing. I wonder if farmers get as jacked up about the newest tractors and combines as we get about the newest sleds? Maybe I'll go over to johndeereinsider.com and read about it.

 

Christian Bros. Racing trucks in Fertile

Speaking of fertile... I only had a moment to capture a shot of these Christian Bros. Racing rigs parked outside of their race shop in the town of Fertile. I'm sure the pace inside of their shop has ratcheted up a few notches. And I know that (team owners) Dwight and Stuart have plans for bigger/better for the coming season.

 

Snow in the ditch of Hwy 32

It's often said that in life, timing is everything. Clearly I have bad timing and should have made this trip last week, when the ditches were full of snow for a few days.

Here, just south of TRF on Hwy 32, there were still some faint snowmobile tracks still visible.

 

Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls, MN

Welcome home!

 

Arctic Cat Wildcat inside of the factory

Inside one side of the lobby sits a Wildcat. Over the next couple days I had many conversations about this high-perf side-by-side. The ATV engineers are amped-up with their collective feet stepping on the gas. Fun stuff!

 

Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls, MN

A nice size group arrived to take the factory tour.

 

Arctic Cat company retail store

As always there were lots of tantalizing items inside the company store. Unfortunately I wasn't able to find another Team Arctic Sponsor Jersey, which is an old favorite of mine that I'd like to get a couple more of.

 

Arctic Cat XF 1100 Limited on the production line

Arctic Cat XF1100 Limiteds were rolling down the assembly line.

 

Arctic Cat XF 1100 Limited on the production line

The sled in front here is the last of the XF1100 production. Behind it, a few empty carts create the time/space needed to switch-over production to a TZ1 Touring model.

Watching the people on the assembly line make the switch was pretty cool and impressively efficient.

 

Arctic Cat's Gary Nelson

Up in the Marketing area, Gary Nelson had been busy wearing this Minnesota Vikings promotional helmet for much of the morning, probably to celebrate the team's (so-far) winning season.

The Promotions Specialist at Arctic Cat, Gary is one of those people who can creatively find a way to accomplish almost anything that's asked of him. His job title should be "Magician" for his ability to pull something out of a hat.

 

Ron Bergman and Brian Dick, engineers at Arctic Cat

Up in snowmobile Engineering, Ron Bergman (left) and Brian Dick were bantering about creative ways to solve any number of challenges, including how to haul huge sheets of plywood with a compact car.

When it comes to snowmobile chassis and suspension, these two engineers are as creative as they come.

 

Arctic Cat engineer and racer, Brian Dick

I wanted to formally congratulate Brian on his new job promotion. Beginning now, he'll be the High Performance Group Leader in addition to overseeing the Sno Pro race sled.

The move came in tandem with Troy Halvorson transitioning to the role of Mountain Group Leader. I didn't get a picture of Troy because he was at the doctor, getting a cast removed from his arm (dang motocross injury!). This shuffle/promotion for these two guys will mean good things to come.

Asked if his new promotion will curtail his racing effort this season, Brian conceded that he probably won't race a full schedule, but he's planning on hitting a few big ones. He's signed up for the Iron Dog with former winner Eric Quam, which is awesome news. And Brian is planning to race both the USXC I-500 and Soo 500 enduro.

All three races happen in the span of about three weeks!

 

Arctic Cat's Russ Ebert and Joey Hallstrom

Nearby, engineer Russ Ebert (left) gives a few words of encouragement to Arctic Cat Product Manager Joey Hallstrom, who is diving deeper into the world of 120-class racing with his son Jessie.

By the way, Hallstrom is looking for a used 24-foot enclosed aluminum trailer with a bench and heat...

 

Arctic Cat wizzard, Russ Ebert

Back to the task of the day for Russ: working with the slip-gear system for the Sno Pro race sled.

 

Arctic Cat's Darren Holter

Over in ATV engineering, Darren Holter was busy building new stuff, but he took a moment to show me a SWEET custom four-seat Prowler he built for himself this past spring.

Darren promised he'd send me the pix so I could post a little story about it here.

 Lunch at Dee's in TRF

Life is good when you can eat lunch at Dee's Diner, especially when it's with Gary Nelson, Ron Bergman and Roger Skime.

One highlight of lunch was listening to Roger talk about how many hours he worked in the 1970s:

"I used to work in Engineering from 6:30 to 5:00. Then I'd go over to the race shop and work until 10 or 11pm. After that, I'd go to the farm, hop in a tractor and work there until 2am. That was every week day. On the weekends we'd go racing."

 Arctic Cat's Corey Friesen

Speaking of lunch, Arctic Cat Senior Graphic Stylist Corey Friesen brought this sweet fridge into his studio. Since I love decal-plastered anything, I had to grab the shot.

 Arctic Cat's Tim Benedict

Meanwhile, Tim Benedict illustrates the sneaky way to each an inexpensive lunch by shaking down the vending machine for a pack of M&Ms. It worked!

 

Inside the Arctic Cat Race Shop

Over in the Team Arctic Race Shop, there is a buzz of activity about the upcoming race season. Inside the actual shop a few sleds sit waiting to go to their owners. Among them is the 2010 Sno Pro 500 that Roger Skime piloted in the I-500.

 

Mike Kloety in the Arctic Cat Race Shop

Race Coordinator Mike Kloety gave me the two-minute lowdown of the Sno Pro 500 gear reduction package for Junior class competition.

After a few more conversations about the state of snowmobile racing, it was time to head home.

 

Near Tucker's birthplace of Rollag

On the way south, the piles of corn had nearly doubled in size during the two days that had passed.

 

Tucker's Bike Room

I made a quick stop in Pelican Rapids for a nice bike ride with Tucker Hibbert. Once he fully recovered from his kidney injury, Hibbert threw down some solid race results in mountain bike competition late this fall. That's great endurance training for snocross.

On this day, Tucker threw-down a full session of motocross followed by an hour-long bike ride.

 

Inside Tucker's race shop

While in another part of Tucker's shop, Curly keeps watch of everything...

 

Night settles on the Hibbert Farm

...as darkness descends on another day.

Thanks for reading.



Comments (14):

Scott Watters (F7RAT) says:
10/12/2012 10:31:00 AM

Thanks Jon nice write up once again,I will be up at the factory Nov. 6th & 7th and will take the tour again to get a look of the F800 black Ltd's coming down the line as which is the sled I snow checked and grab a few goodies from salvage. I can taste the home cooking at Dee's already as it is a must stop when up their.
Plueddeman says:
10/12/2012 10:46:00 AM

No AI sticker on that fridge?
Eric says:
10/12/2012 11:05:00 AM

Thanks! Always love these articles. Would love to go for a mountain bike ride with Tucker sometime myself! Is he as good on a bicycle as he is on everything else?
mike says:
10/12/2012 3:25:00 PM

Will they be building my black F1100 LTD in early Nov as well??
Love the picks and the stories!!!Didn't get to Dee's this summer when we were in TRF...had an awesome burger at the Black Cat though!!!
s.t.i.c.s.9 says:
10/12/2012 7:49:00 PM

I have a tear in my eye looking at that old fridge with all of those stickers plastered everywhere. Needs a couple of "Bud Man" and Copenhagen!
Greg Hallstrom says:
10/12/2012 11:40:00 PM

I'm sure Doug Braswell can fill you in on what's happening at John Deere.

Joey, try Craigslist for that race trailer. Or ArcticInsider.com. Might have to pair up my grandson Evan with Jessie in a 120 race.................................

katherina says:
10/13/2012 8:50:00 AM

Always enjoy reading and receiving these.....is that your old fridge Corey?
RL says:
10/13/2012 4:23:00 PM

It's good to be the KING.
All hail King John
Honey I'm gonna be gone for a couple days. Arctic Cat needs me again.
I'll be back.
Joe says:
10/13/2012 7:51:00 PM

It would be cool if u could get some kind of a ticker set up that tells us what's going down the line at cat and what is scheduled.
John Sandberg says:
10/13/2012 8:28:00 PM

LOL on RL. You forgot the part when I tell her to make me a chicken pot-pie.

Joe: I agree.

Eric: Yes, Tucker is a very good mountain bike racer. But he's a terrible baseball pitcher.
artdcat says:
10/15/2012 9:01:00 AM

I haven't seen Kloety without a ball cap on since high school.
Trev says:
10/16/2012 6:08:00 PM

I see that Bergman is passing the bill to Gary.

Marketing has all the money!

HighCountry says:
10/22/2012 10:10:00 PM

very cool
Trish says:
10/26/2012 12:53:00 AM

We dfienitely need more smart people like you around.

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