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Eagle River 1976: Calm Before the Storm

Team Arctic's Dave Thompson (R) and Yamaha's Dick Trickle, at the 1976 Eagle River WC. Photo by Ramstad.


January 1976. Eagle River, Wisconsin. The World Championships of oval racing.

As per tradition at the time, on Saturday afternoon following the qualifying heats and races, the 10 finalists for the World Championship gathered for a group photo. Afterwards the finalists went into the press box located on top of the hill along the front straightaway, where they remained available to answer questions from the assembled media.

There, in a moment of calm before the racing storm that would unfold in less than 24 hours, Team Arctic’s Dave Thompson (right) and Yamaha’s Dick Trickle shared their thoughts while sharing a Pabst.

A Pabst!


Of special note: This was the year that Thompson returned to racing following a chilling crash at the 1975 Eagle River Derby (the result of which was two broken legs, a smashed hand and a severe back injury).

Thompson finished third in the 1976 World Championship final, behind winner Ed Schubitzke (Yamaha) and Team Arctic teammate Bob Elsner. Trickle failed to finish the final.

1976 was Thompson’s last season as a racer. He would transition to be the team manager beginning in 1977 and would continue to work at Arctic Cat for another three decades.


Photo from the C.J. Ramstad Archives



  1. Is it me or do pictures of people from the 70’s drinking PBR look like BAD ASS’S? Like Steve McQueen or something.

  2. One can still see an ancient Pabst trail marker in Wisconsin. They are blue and show a happy looking guy on a sled usually pointing in the direction of a bar. Anyone else seen one and were they only in WI?

  3. Yup, when I worked for Arctic we flew into Eagle River with the Co. plane that day and were told that Dave was in the hospital and had died twice on the operating table but he kept coming back. I think he wanted to finish that race. He is one tough customer!

  4. I had a PBR last week……………. I had to rince my mouth out with a beer afterwards. I miss those good old days, cool picture.

  5. I had a PBR last week……………. I had to rince my mouth out with a beer afterwards. I miss those good old days, cool picture. is it just me, or does
    Dave look a little like Hank jr. with the hat and glasses ?

  6. I miss the winter of ’75-’76. I raced against those guys at the only Michigan Sno-Pro race that year in Imlay City. What a blast that was. And I think when someone offered you a beer, it was PBR! Yuk!!!!!

  7. I agree with the sentiment that these two look like complete badasses (especially Dave with the aviator glasses).

  8. Scott…Now that was a funny comment….Tears in my eyes literally…We need to have a PBR sometime ! 🙂 Funny chit right there !!!!

  9. That’s a cool picture. and its funny because Dick went on to race for P.B.R. on a full sponsorship while racing stock car all over Wisconsin almost every night.

  10. Have attended the derby every year since 1970. Our group was staying with a friend who’s wife worked at the hospital attending to Dave. Saw the accident that occurred right in front of us. Very ugly. Kuddos to Dave for returning in 76. Tough dude.


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