Saturday marked what has become an Annual gathering of Arctic Cat fans at the Zedshed, a barn-turned-Arctic-Cat-museum on the outskirts of New Richmond, Wis.
Amazing sleds, fantastic people and conversations about all-things Arctic Cat… it was the best place in the world that I could be on a cold, blustery day in October.
This was my second trip to Rich Pederson’s farm, the first being a December get-together last year that felt like an Arctic Cat Christmas party.
The Pederson family and friends pushed this year’s event forward a couple months and invited more people. I’d say the vibe for this year’s event was more like an Open House than it was Christmas party.
They raised an Arctic Cat flag next to Old Glory as a welcome beacon.
The party invitation asked for people to bring a sled to display, and “to bring BS.”
I personally brought ample of the latter. I would soon learn that most of the 100-200 guests did the same.
Doubtful that the Pedersons needed to request any BS from this crowd, though. What else would a bunch of sledders spew while tipping back a few on a Saturday afternoon?
Inside the ZedShed, the collection of outstanding snowmobiles looked exactly as I remembered it: in perfect rows and in perfect running condition.
What’s especially cool about a party at the Zedshed is that everywhere you look, there are AMAZING Arctic Cat snowmobiles that fight for your attention while you’re talking with someone.
The telltale green stripes of Arctic Cat Z and Sno Pro sleds are like magnates for my eyes. And here there are so many such stripes that it’s almost overwhelming.
It was cool to see my friends (L-to_R) Eric Bergstrom, Aaron Scheele, Ansen Scheele and Tom Rowland wander through the Zedshed for the first time, eyes wide and fingers pointing.
While Rich Pederson and his friends have a penchant for Zs, there are many other classic Arctic Cats in his 50-sled collection, including a couple King Kats.
Likewise, there are a few Sno Pro Cats, including these 1980 beauties.
Nevermind that guy crouching down and checking serial numbers… he’s part of the Sno Pro Police Squad.
Just kidding. Actually, it’s Jim Dimmerman who, as always, brings his own great energy (and expertise) to any conversation about the Sno Pro days.
It’s cool listening to Jim and Rich (right) talk about these machines. Each brings a unique perspective to such a conversation… Jim with the vantage of having built and raced these sleds on the Arctic Cat factory Sno Pro team, and Rich as a collector who has chased, bought, traded, sold and bought again all number of such sleds.
Speaking of chasing and buying Arctic Cat Sno Pro sleds… you’re looking at one of the Holy Grails of Arctic Cat collecting: a 1975 PDC 440 that is widely believed to have been Larry Coltom’s.
I say “a/the” 1975 PDC because, as the story goes, all but one of these famed oval race sleds was sent to the metal shredder after the ’75 season. One machine escaped that fate.
It’s traded hands many times in the past three-plus decades and now, after paying a small fortune, Rich owns this storied and extremely rare machine.
The telltale sign that this was Coltom’s racer is the torch mark on the left side of the handlebar, between the brake lever clamp and the steering post.
Back in the day, Coltom customized his handlebars so that the left side of the bar was further forward than the right. A little heat, a little shove and Larry was ready to go racing!
Seeing this sled was such a privelege. Thanks for making that happen, Rich!
While a few of Rich’s machines are of the do-not-touch-or-start variety, including the ’75 PDC, most of his sleds are runners. And when people are hanging out at the Zedshed, they like to run ’em.
So every half-hour or so Andy Berends would pull the rope on a new sled and rev the sweet music for a minute or so. These moments would halt whatever conversations were happing, and would command our attention and appreciating.
Afterwards, slight haze and smell of pre-mix would waft through the air. It was all pretty much perfect.
One such conversation that I overheard was between Rich and Tom Rowland (left). Tom had brough a box of strange Arctic Cat parts that he suspected were Sno Pro stuff, perhaps prototype stuff, and was seeking Rich’s expertise.
Rich himself has a pretty sizeable stock of parts, Sno Pro and otherwise.
I should note that while Rich’s blood runs green as could be, he’s perfectly cool with the whole Arctic Cat-Yamaha partnership.
Besides snowmobiles and signs, there’s all kinds of great artwork to see at the Zedshed.
While the machines and memorabilia are the Zedshed’s attractions, they’re really not the best thing to experience at this event.
Nope, the best part about this party was the people. And three people who I had a great conversation with were Team Arctic drag racers Scott Kostman (L), Kelly Shilts (Middle) and Billie Jo Kostman (Scott’s better half).
Kids were another really cool aspect to the party. Especially when they’re wearing vintage Arcticwear suits.
Yep, it’s always good to see little kids hanging around snowmobiles.
Many attendees were were better organized than me and actually followed the request on the invitation to bring a sled.
That includes Kelly Shilts, who brought his XF 8000 grass drag racer. This sled was so clean you could eat off of it.
The 1975 PDC 440 wasn’t the only Arctic Cat royalty at the Zedshed last Saturday.
Making a very special guest appearance was none other than Arctic Cat Boss Cat II!
To say that this was a stunning surprise is a gross understatement. And once again, I must publicly thank Brad Warning for bringing this machine to an event and sharing it with the world. Thanks Brad!
What I will NOT thank Brad for is scurrying to cover up this sled before I could nab a decent photo of it.
All he would tell me is that it was one of Steve Thorsen’s Scorpion (Arctic Cat) 340 Sno Pro racers.
Vintage Arctic Cat oval racer/builder/engine guru Keith Badour was there with his awesome King Kat 800 Super Mod. Keith has some really innovative ideas that could put his machine on the podium at at the Vintage World Championships this season.
How’s this for cool… Frontier Ag & Turf (the area Arctic Cat dealer) had a display of ATVs, and they brought a new Wildcat for demo rides!
Now… the ONLY reason I’m including this photo of Kurt Krieger’s Moto-Skis, Ski-Doo and botched Kitty Cats is because the fun-loving racer, collector and all-around great guy also happens to work at Frontier, so I can forgive him for his misguided brand affiliation. Plus, he paid me $20 if I’d include this photo in my story.
I’m going to end this post with a couple photos that I thought were especially cool.
This one is Rich sitting on this first sled, a 1971 Arctic Cat Panther. Behind him is his newest sled, a 2012 F1100 Turbo.
I think this is cool because it totally captures the flavor of the day. People in conversation amongst snowmobiles. So what if the sleds are valuable, we’ll still put the dessert bars next to them!
Once again I want to thank the Pederson family for hosting such a great event, as well as all his friends who helped prepare the Zedshed for the big day. It was a perfect day!
Thanks for reading.