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.
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.
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.
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!
A nice size group arrived to take the factory tour.
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 XF1100 Limiteds were rolling down the assembly 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.
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.
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.
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!
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...
Back to the task of the day for Russ: working with the slip-gear system for the Sno Pro race sled.
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.
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."
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.
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!
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.
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.
On the way south, the piles of corn had nearly doubled in size during the two days that had passed.
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.
While in another part of Tucker's shop, Curly keeps watch of everything...
...as darkness descends on another day.
Thanks for reading.