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Update: More Pix of Dimmerman's World-Champ Phantom Sno Pro


(10/26/2012)

Jim Dimmerman & Ted Nielsen with the Phantom

Here are some more photos of Dimmerman's almost-restored 1984 World Championship Phantom. The photo above is Jim (L) and sled/team owner Ted Nielsen. Nielsen should be given huge credit for the decades of support he's given high level snowmobile racing.

 

Jim Dimmerman's Phantom Sno Pro race sled will be restored for the 50th

The pix were shot a couple days ago at Nielsen Enterprises and illustrate how close this sled is to becoming a runner.

 

Jim Dimmerman's Phantom Sno Pro race sled will be restored for the 50th

To my eyes and emotional headquarters, seeing a naked race sled is as good as it gets. Every element is so purposeful, almost sacred. They reveal creativity, engineering, unique ideas and, in the case of sleds like the Phantom, the pinnacle of snowmobile development during a particular era.

 

Jim Dimmerman's Phantom Sno Pro race sled will be restored for the 50th

If ever there have been pix published of the Phantom without fiberglass, I don't remember them. So I give a HUGE thanks to Jim for sending and sharing these.

 

Jim Dimmerman and the Nielsen family pose with Phantom

Here Jim and Ted are joined by Jeff and Christie Nielsen.

I had a long talk with Jim about his thoughts on whether the Phantom would be competitive with today's top Champ sleds. In short, Jim thinks it would be.

Wouldn't it be cool if Dimmerman built up another Phantom, based on an Arctic Cat Sno Pro with the Z-bar front end, and teamed up with his friend Aaron Scheele for some vintage oval racing?

Yeah, I think so too.

Truth be told, the idea isn't mine. It's Jim's. Which is why he's on the lookout for an Arctic Cat Sno Pro. Got any leads?



Comments (33):

Tom Rowland says:
10/26/2012 8:42:00 AM

Truly an amazing piece of history here when you consider that it was one of only a few sleds to race out of Arctic Enterprises in 81, the capable drivers that have driven it over the years, the race tracks it has competed at, that it has won a World Championship when the odds seemed stacked against it, etc, etc.

How ever much you are paying Jim for these photos John, it is worth every penny :)
John Sandberg says:
10/26/2012 9:27:00 AM

Jim charges me $1,000/image. (Check's in the mail, Jim.)
Todd Ulschmid says:
10/26/2012 10:19:00 AM

I never realized that the Phantom was powered by a Rotax. I suppose, for the era it was on the track, it makes sense.
jimu@sledracer.com says:
10/26/2012 10:50:00 AM

Whoa, so Dimmerman's sled was Rotax powered? And he won with RAVE valves the year before Gingras "officially" won with RAVE valves? Who knew? Since the engine was Rotax and the chassis "Phantom," does this mean Elsner was really the last to win on an Arctic Cat in '79 until P.J. Won in 2001 and not Dimmerman like magazines such as Snow Week claimed?
Mike F says:
10/26/2012 12:51:00 PM

Rotax or not, an extremely cool piece! Jim looks like he could still beat the young guys!
John Sandberg says:
10/26/2012 12:55:00 PM

I don't remember it being a secret that Dimmerman ran Rotax on the Phantom, just like it wasn't a secret that Dave Wahl ran Rotax those same years. I'm pretty sure Snow Week reported it accurately back then, although it's been a while since I read that issue.

The Phantom chassis was an Arctic Cat Sno Pro. The engine was Rotax. We'll get Dimmerman to confirm, but I'm pretty sure he used a Polaris driven clutch. And the day he won the World Champs, he was wearing John Deere underwear.

Also something Dimmer needs to confirm: the RAVE-equipped Rotax shown in the sled here was the engine he used in 1986, his last season. No RAVE for him in 1984. Maybe he'll also tell the story of how he obtained the RAVE-Rotax for 1986...LOL!

To me, what is so cool about Dimmerman's win in '84 was the fact that he was an independent who beat the factory powerhouse (Ski-Doo). And that he did it with a 3-year old single-track machine against the twin-trackers. It was the last single-track victory of the era.

I alluded to it on the other post, but there's even more compelling history about this sled that might get shared.
hugh says:
10/26/2012 1:42:00 PM

The Rotax power was always well known on that sled. I sure wish we could see Elsners '79 championship sled.
Jim Dimmerman says:
10/26/2012 2:23:00 PM

Damn the age of digital photography...You guys sure are sticklers for detail! I will set the record straight when I get back from a couple of errands...
Ryan Teach says:
10/26/2012 5:18:00 PM

Man, these updates are perfect! And I think my jaw actually dropped when I read the last paragraph...even if 1/2 comes true. For us that never had a chance to see the sled in true race from at a WC race what a great chance this will be. It would be interesting to hear something from Skime on the Phantom, if I remember, Dimmermans HOF speach 'sorta-kinda' eluded to Skime (and Decker) being the reason he was matched with Cat/ Phantom racing. Could be wrong!
Doug Hanson says:
10/26/2012 6:52:00 PM

Is That a Suzuki CDI on the Clutch Guard? Neat story keep them coming!!!!
Jim Dimmerman says:
10/26/2012 7:58:00 PM

I could just give a yes or no answer to any questions, but I think the real story behind the machine is priceless history. So about engines; yes, it was Rotax powered in 1984. The Phantom started out with a brand new Valcort Race Shop built 340 (non rave). I think it was 94 hp at 9800 rpm's.
Now you might ask,
How did we get a Bombardier Factory race mill to run in an Arctic Cat sled? Well it takes money and a little deception.. Ted and I came up with a plan to go to Chester Duval (then skidoo race team manager) to purchase a new 1984 skidoo twintrack and a spare complete engine package,
pipes,carbs, ign, water still dripping from the manifolds from the dyno. He jumped at the chance to finally see me park my Arctic Cat and join the ranks on a TwinTrack. Ted paid him in FULL for the package not asking for any sponsorship. no details or promises. I hope you can understand how much we wanted to win this championship. I was an ex factory race driver with limited resources. I was digging deep into my bag of tricks trying to win against a very formidable opponent. On the other hand, we were also trying to be prepared by having a Twin Track ready on hand in case the Phantom wasn't going to be a strong enough piece. The deception was that we never told Chester that the spare engine was going into the Phantom.! I had to evade questions from Chester, Brad , Mouse, and Jocko about my progress on the Twin Track during the pre season prep.
I, in fact, did spend about 30% of my time each day working on the Twin Track prepping it for the up coming season.( the tolerances on the first TT's were not very well built) It was far from my standards to be ready to ride.
So we waited for test ice to find out how strong this new engine was to be... It was strong at our first test and I felt we should put all our effort into the Phantom package, we left the TwinTrack sit..As a matter of fact I never drove it. It sat it the race shop all year next to me and the Phantom. I never brought it to the test sessions. I was totally focused on the Phantom.
We were running well and winning but at one of the race tracks Mike Wienant came to us and offered to build us an engine and pipes to 100 hp. He was a very knowledgable man and laid out exactly how he would do it. We ran his engine right before Eagle River and won with it. We left it in for the Championship week and the rest of the season. We won a lot of races with it. It wasn't till 1985 that skidoo came with the RAVE but I never had one.( you can imagine they weren't going to give one to me!)
The engine in the sled now is not the original, Ted had a spare RAVE from his later TT years and I put that one in so it will run for our exibition laps at the 50th E.R. Derby.... next, my story about the Chassis, Scorpion, Arctic Cat, Phantom..Who Knows What Lurks Within.. The Phantom Knows !
Alley Cat says:
10/26/2012 10:02:00 PM

Now tell us how you drove it Jim. What did you do in the turns, or when it was set up, was it like butter to drive? On the line did you do anything special. One could only dream, as I looked on from the stands.
John Sandberg says:
10/26/2012 10:46:00 PM

Hang on a moment while I go get some popcorn...
Jim Dimmerman says:
10/27/2012 6:40:00 AM

Just a little triva about the Worlds Championship for 1984. Up until now the WC had been 15 laps. This year it would be 25 ! That was a HUGE change. You tech geeks may notice I have installed a watercooled brake extrusion from a Polaris Indy. I was very concerned about brake fade late in the race..I was the only one that added this..Also the rear lube tank(looks like fuel tank) was about 2 laps short of running out so I added the quart Kitty cat tank for additional lube..I had alot of anxiety about what those additional 10 laps would do to both Me and the machine...(now they give the drivers a break halfway for cookies and milk) just kiddin...Jim
THECATKID says:
10/27/2012 9:06:00 AM

I think that they need to do a battle of old champs and set up identical sleds kind of like the old kawasaki race and get people like Jim, Steve Thoreson, The Deckers, the Wahls and have a race that would be neat for the 50th.
Eric says:
10/27/2012 9:21:00 PM

John thanks again for the great article!

Jim thanks for that information! That is too flippin cool about being deceptive to the factory and then whooping up on em! Im a young guy and didnt not know any of this information. I would think this story should rank up there with Mike Trapp's story!
Jim Dimmerman says:
10/28/2012 7:41:00 AM

I've resting my two fingers after that reply...I'll start my chassis post tonight. The Ignition is Nippondenso. Rotax made a switch about 1980 to these. Same one used on Suzuki. Jim
jimu@sledracer.com says:
10/28/2012 9:23:00 AM

This might not be true of everyone who raced one, but of the few former twin track racers I've talked to, they've all said they would never get back on one.
Jeremiah Johnson says:
10/28/2012 2:58:00 PM

Jim great story and pictures of the sled. Did I see a shock down near the chaincase on that sled? If i Saw that right Im very curious about it. Hope the handle worked good!
Alley Cat says:
10/28/2012 5:52:00 PM

Come on Jim tell me how you drove the thing. From flag man to finish. I want to see if your driving was as good as your engineering, because I think so. I look at that sled and see things that are way ahead of the times, and taking chances are part of racing and winning.
Jim Dimmerman says:
10/29/2012 8:07:00 AM

Well here's the way it was in the Arctic race shop during the fall of 1980. All of the components were arriving; stampings, machined pieces and aluminum panels, ready for assembly right in our shop. Brad Hulings and Mouse Karpik were 40' away from me on one side, while Bobby Elsner and Durmont Wahl were across on the other side of the shop.

We had assembly tables and equal access to all of these parts. There was nothing separate that said Scorpion and the MFG serial tags said: ARCTIC ENTERPRISES,INC. Now that's where the
"El Samo" ends. Individually we would take these parts and customize them for fit, weight removal,(Mouse coined it whittling wars) and placement. Obviously, this was all overseen by Dennis Zulawski, Roger Gage, and Dave Thompson.

We were each to make 2 machines. I believe they were 340 & 340 X. Basically one spare each. The Scorpions had a different hood and tail than the Cat, so some of the mounting was specific. The engines and pipes were all built by Glen Follet and were within 1 hp of each other. ( you would, however, see us drivers up at the dyno room with coffee and donuts for Glen, hoping a little sugar might find your engine a little more power).

I think you get the picture about the likeness of the two machines...now once the sleds hit the ice, all kinds of changes would start.
That's another very interesting topic but most of you would have to die if I told you......just like the question from Jeremiah about whats under my RH footrest ? your much to young to pass... He He...Jim
Kevin Hooper says:
10/29/2012 6:26:00 PM

It's worth the risk... please tell us about these sleds when they hit the ice!
Jim Dimmerman says:
10/30/2012 8:01:00 AM

I'd like to comment a little about my choice to pick the Scorpions over the Team Arctic sleds for my Phantom.

Aerodynamics was first on my mind. The Scorpion's windshield is legendary. You've seen the likes of it on Ski-Doo's formula racers, and even now in Champ sleds. The bubble kind of grows on you, it's not pretty, but the function surely directs the air around you. My Arctic sled's hood/windshield fell short of matching this great design.

Remember now, after the demise of Arctic Enterprises, as I'm preparing to go racing with Ted Nielsen, I'm sitting staring at 5 of the BEST and LAST Arctic Sno Pro racesleds in history. I've been told I can have 2 of them. So out comes my tape measure and pad and paper and I go to work measuring EVERYTHING.

One of these sleds is Bob Elsner's non-Z-bar suspension. Durmont came to a conclusion that the Z bar was contributing to a handling problem. He decided to remove the Z bar connecting links and install a sway bar. I remember Bobby saying he liked it but, unfortunately, I never had a chance to drive it.

Should I keep this sled, untried, unproven? I had been driving Z bars for 4 years now, we won the Worlds Championship in 1979 with it.

I am also staring at the current 1981 World Champion sled of Brad's, of course another Z bar. I had no choice, I had to stick with what I knew and believed in. ( I'll have to explain the Z bar concept to you some other time, it may be a mystery to some of you). I decided to keep both Scorpions.

I would like to say that Brad Hulings was the BEST snowmobile racer of my time, and arguably of All time. As I dissected and measured these sleds, I continued to find little changes that Brad had incorporated into his machine.

I knew he was smart, but now I could see how he would address a particular issue and solve it. There were several unique innovations that I had come to respect.
He was ahead of Bobby and I as drivers because he had a better "feel" for it. Brad was small guy and manhandling a snowmobile was not in his vocabulary. He made the machine come to him.

So, I took pieces and parts from all the sleds and told Ted the rest can go to the Goodwins, Jeff and Greg. And that's how it all began...Next the naming of the Phantom (and why)
John Sandberg says:
10/30/2012 8:48:00 AM

This is amazing. Wait a moment while I get another batch of popcorn...
Alley Cat says:
10/30/2012 10:28:00 AM

Sandberg: You getting all of this, cause I will buy the book too. Pass the popcorn, and more butter! Continue on Jim..
John Sandberg says:
10/30/2012 11:01:00 AM

I decided that Jim's stories about Phantom needed their own post/story, so I created one that combines what he's written in the above comments and is now posted above this story on the homepage.
Loren Anderson says:
10/30/2012 5:39:00 PM

Jimmie..................you are the greatest story teller. Reminds me of your induction speech at the HOF banquet ! Good stuff for sure. You are also right about Ted.........what he has contributed to the sport over the years is trememdous and we truly appreciate all he is doing to get this piece of history ready for our 50th Derby Exhibition (which opens next week). Thank you Ted and thank you Jimmie for traveling to Lake Villa, IL many trips to help put it all together !

We are looking forward to the sleds arrival in the next two weeks here in St. Germain to go on display with many other World Championship winners from the 50 years of the Eagle River Derby. From two sleds that ran in the first Derby in 1964 to Nick VanStrydonk's 2012 Polaris...........we will have an impressive display of Derby sleds, trophies, flags and videos. Check out our site for Derby Exhibit updates. www.snowmobilehalloffame.com

Loren
Eric Bergstrom says:
10/30/2012 8:54:00 PM

Thanks for sharing Jim. I can't wait to read more. This is awesome!
Ted Paterak says:
11/3/2012 4:52:00 PM

Be careful what you wish for there guys.....I'm sure Al Enno could help you out with a Sno Pro chassis of that era ....What do you think Glen could get out (horsepower wise) of a 440 today with new technology ?
Jim Dimmerman says:
11/6/2012 1:32:00 PM

Back in the day, the style shop was about a 100' away from the back of the race shop. We would stop by the back door just to see what Leon & Leroy were up to..red clay laying everywere. Saw a lot of these sleds in the making....I'm not worthy to grace the same pages as these two guys.
Tom Rowland , AWESOME JOB at putting this together. now it's viral and forever....Jim
Vikram says:
1/24/2013 1:41:00 PM

Could you expand on this staeemtnt: For the vast majority of riders, the fixed QRS is ideal, as it’s more efficient and lighter than “floating” designs. I agree that the QRS secondary design (speaking of the secondary clutch it's self not how it's mounted) is very efficient. But . the fixed design with the stack up of tolerance is probably only good for about 20 to 30% of the sleds. When you look at the geometric stack up of tolerances, you can't put the engine cutch and the secondary clutch in the correct position for a fixed secondary clutch. It has taken you 4 years to make a mean shift in the position of the secondary clutch location side to side which I can understand, big business has trouble making changes if they feel something is working. My guess is the mean shift of the secondary clutch means that now approximately 55 % of the sled will have the belt properly aligned versus the 25 to 30% previously aligned. I agree you get good belt life if the clutches are properly aligned with the fixed design. I suspect you worry that if you reverted to an alignment system like on the previous rev or zx sled, you have to worry about mechanics be they back yard or dealer ship mechanics doing more harm in attempting to align them. Which brings us back to the floating design. If you floated it with your current shaft the way the doo doctor (Brian Clarke) is doing, you will not pick up any weight. And you will have great belt life.Are you worried about spline life or durability? I am trying to understand the issue with this system for you? I do applaude your efforts to reduce clutch temperatures and the cover is a good step forward as well as priced right. And so far it is helping to keep the clutch from cutting holes thru the side panels for the mountain riders who lay their sleds over in deep powder carving turns. Although I see the new cover is no immune to getting holes as shown in the pictures on dootalk. Don't take me wrong, I love my XP's and they were a big step forward over the Rev chassis. I love the light weight shaft on the fixed QRS secondary, I would just like to see you pay Brian Clarke a few dollars of royalties, and put the shaft on all of the sleds you build. You don't even have to float it. We can spend the few extra bucks to do that, but the ease of removing, cleaning and tuning the secondary clutch would improve as well as the ease of aligning the percentage of sleds that have the wrong stack up of tolerances. As I see it, it is pretty much impossible to keep this stack of tolerances in line with out an aluminum cradle that pickus up both sides of the tunnel, the clutch tower and chain case as well as the left rear 4 way locating mount. And that adds weight and cost. We do appreciate your initiating these blogs and attempting to answer questions. ThanksDon McElroy aka djm
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