For a few brief laps, Nate Ewing of Big Lake, Minn., became the unsung hero and crowd favorite at the recent ISOC Duluth National snocross.
The reason for his sudden rise in popularity was that the 21-year-old from Big Lake, Minn., was competing in the Amateur class aboard something far older than a 2015 edition snocross race sled.
Like 20 years older!
Conventional wisdom in snowmobile racing suggests that you must ride the latest and greatest in order to compete. The sled HAS to be this year’s model, loaded with the newest Kashima-coated suspenders and wrapped with the sickest vinyl. Your gear has to be so new that the tags are still hanging on it. And you must roll to the races in a 53-foot hauler.
Sure, you MIGHT get a pass for racing a year-old sled, but nothing older than three years will pass the litmus test for acceptability. Get outta here, poser! Maybe hit the vintage circuit with that 3-year old iron.
Fortunately Nate Ewing completely ignored these unwritten rules.
Get this: He was just 1-year old (and still wearing diapers, I might add) when Arctic Cat built the 1995 Arctic Cat EXT that he would eventually race two decades later at Duluth!
Lest we give Nate too much credit for being old school, I should mention that his ’95 EXT is a bit of a mutt that incorporates some really new and cutting-edge technology. Such as the front suspension that’s from a 1998 Sno Pro, the tunnel from a 2008 Crossfire, and the skidframe from a 2008 Sno Pro.
And it should also be noted that Nate DOES have the latest 509 goggles.
Nate started racing four years ago, competing at ERX Thurs. Night races as well as select regional events. Interestingly, he’s owned almost-new race sleds during that time, but he returned to his ’95 for the sheer joy of it.
Nate went to Duluth with the intention of racing the Trail class, but switched to the Amateur class when no other racers signed up for the more low-key Trail class. His 10th and 11th place finishes in the two heat races failed to advance him into the final, they might have been the result of part failure rather than outdated design:
“I think the shock blew,” he said immediately upon removing his helmet after the second heat.
While there was no fairytale ending to Nate’s race at Duluth, his infectious smile and carefree attitude were a refreshing reminder that there is no one “right” way to enjoy the sport.
Thanks for the entertainment Nate, and good luck this season!
Thanks for reading.