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HomeFeaturesBARNFIND - The Carmon Johnson Dragster Story - PART 1

BARNFIND – The Carmon Johnson Dragster Story – PART 1

(L-R) Tom Rowland (Thomas Sno Sports), Kurt Johnson (Carmon's Son) and Denise Johnson (Carmon's Wife)

I’m happy to finally bring this story of creativity and passion to the light of day, along with the V8-powered snowmobile dragster Thomas Sno Sports and myself pulled from a Minnesota barn this past fall.

The story begins with a young man, Carmon Johnson, who had a passion for power, speed and racing. Carmon left this world at a young age from a farming accident, but he left behind a legacy of cool stories, and this homebuilt dragster. Again, Im grateful to be able to share this story.

Carmon Johnson on his 1977 Arctic Cat Cross-Country Cat

In fact, Carmon’s family found photos of him racing the I500 in 1977. Pictured above is Carmon and his 1977 Arctic Cat Cross-Country Cat. (If anyone reading this, knows where this CC Cat resides, please email me. It would be interesting to see it now)

A letter from Arctic Cat sent to Carmon after racing the 1977

Kurt Johnson, Carmon’s son, sent us this letter from Arctic Cat to Carmon that shared a photo of him racing the 1977 I500.

Carmon on his 77 Cross Country Cat

Looking closer at the photo, Carmon had to be a tough fella…notice no goggles? It appears he started the race with goggles, and may have even had an extra set taped to his helmet. 

(L-R) Davey Thompson, Carmon Johnson and Larry Coltom

The above photo is SO cool and shows Carmon was connected to the Arctic Cat factory in some way. Pictured in the middle is Carmon with Davey Thompson (Left) and Larry Coltom (Right). I dont know the backstory on this photo, but based on Coltom’s 76 Sno Pro and Spirit outboard engine in background, Im inclinded to think this was some type of Arctic Cat dealer show around 1977. If this looks familiar to anyone, please email me or COMMENT.

Boss Cat - Pages from the Arctic Cat 50th Anniv Book

The timeframe and reasons why Carmon decided to build his dragster are a bit murky from the Johnson family, but Im nearly certain the inspiration derived from the three Boss Cats Arctic Cat built in the 70s. Based on the parts in Carmons dragster, the tunnels and tracks appear to be from the early 70s and the front hood is from a 78 El Tigre 6000. So, one would assume Carmon was building this towards the late 70s.

The first sight of the dragster hidden in the corner

Above is the very first photo upon laying eyes on the dragster hiding in the back corner of the barn.

First photos closer up.

The dragster was cooler the closer we got

Sweet Baby Jesus! V8-powered.

Did I mention Carmon’s dragster is powered by a Ford V8? Why wouldn’t it be…

Tom trying to air-up tires hay rack tires that had been flat 20yrs

You couldnt help but think how cool this dragster was upon laying eyes on it for the first time. Second thoughts turned to Tom and I being about 50% prepared to bring this beast home with us. We had a large equipment trailer, but getting the dragster on it was a different story we hadnt thought about.

The Johnson family was gracious enough to sell us the haywagon with the dragster. Problem solved. We’d hook up ATV to trailer and drive the whole works onto our trailer. (Insert gritting teeth emoji face here)

First time dragster saw light of day in 20+yrs 

In the daylight, nothing looked cooler than the V8 headers poking outta the dragster

Once Tom aired up the tires, we pulled the dragster out and pictured above are photos of it seeing daylight for the first time in 20+yrs. What a sight! After discussing the dragster for a bit, Tom and I loaded the whole works up (Jed Clampett style) and the unit sat at Thomas Sno Sports for the last couple months, until we hooked up with popular YouTube mechanic funny man, Derek Bieri from Vice Grip Garage.

(L-R)Derek Bieri (Vice Grip Garage) and Kale (ArcticInsider)

Pictured above is Derek (VGG) and Kale (AI) at Thomas Sno Sports. And this is where the next chapter of this story will pick up soon. Until then, visit Vice Grip Garage YouTube page to see if Derek can get this Dragster running again.

In the meantime, I cant thank the Johnson family, Thomas Sno Sports and Vice Grip Garage for the opportunities to bring the life and story back to this dragster of Carmon’s. Get out to your garage and build something cool like Carmon did!



  1. These type of find stories are the best. I can’t imagine strapping into that baby. Snowmobiles may be faster now, but men were men in the 60s and 70s. Thanks for sharing and keep em coming.

  2. I believe the Ford motor was a 282 cubic inch motor, you young pups only know liters, he drove it up and down Main Street in Annandale after a March snow storm just once that I remember. On the I 500 snowmobile race,he broke the drive chain just short of. Alexandria. The race that year went from St. Paul to Winnipeg. And I thought it was 1976.

  3. Researched my way here from Vice Grip Garage and just wanted to say thank you for your hard work in bringing this story to light.

  4. Joel – Iā€™m happy you found your way to ArcticInsider. This story, along with connecting w Derek at VGG, has been so much fun! I canā€™t believe all the positive comments surrounding this snowmobile dragster on the interwebs. Itā€™s awesome to see.


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