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Legendary Leafers to Race Again

Outta your price range? Cross-Country Cats

Yep, nice examples of Arctic Cat Cross-Country Cats like these have seemingly doubled in value over the past nine months. These two are owned by Pat Mach, grand poobah of the United States Cross-Country (USCC), whose own accumulation of classic Cats has had an impact on price.

Mach’s incorporation of these vintage-specific USCC XC racing rules for the 2011 I-500 has further fueled the fire. Why is Mach focusing on vintage XC rules?

Classic Cross-Country, photo by C.J. Ramstad

Because ex-racers like Brian Nelson, Jon Carlson, Aaron Scheele, Archie Simonson, Joey Hallstrom and others have been chomping at the bit to race vintage sleds in the upcoming I-500. Perhaps their hardcore, vintage battling during last season’s Ride With the Champs sparked a fire? Yep!


Brian Nelson and Hubert Fixsen, during the Deere years


Regardless, the 1976 and ’78 I-500 champion, Brian Nelson (above, left) who has purches SIX 1979 Cross-Country Cats, so that he can build up two all-out race sleds. He even mentioned to me the notion of getting his friend Huber Fixsen (above, right) involved. Fixsen is one of the most creative engineers this sport has seen. Together these two were a MAJOR force in cross-country back in the day (as well as helping create the original ZR series of Cats).

How serious is Nelson? He’s training, has lost 15 lbs. and is aiming to drop another 10. I know Brian Nelson very well. When he gets serious about racing, look out! Lazer-focus.


Jon Carlson, photo by C.J. Ramstad

Meanwhile, Hallstrom and Carlson are rumored to be looking for vintage sleds. Wonder if Carlson is looking for a Deere?

And with the rumored return to Winnipeg for the 2012 I-500 XC, one can only imagine how more racers will show up on vintage machines. If vintage oval racing is any indication, there’s going to be a BIG revival in cross-country…aboard the legendary leafers.

I’ll have updates as they become available. In the meantime, is there anyone looking to sell a ’79 el Tigre (non-CC version)? I’m interested.



  1. Wow! This is great! Vintage racing! Racing greats like Brian Nelson participating! This will definitely draw great attention to cross country racing…..Man, how fun would this be?! I know where there’s a cross-country cat just like the one the in the first picture. Just like the one on the left side of the picture….I’ll have to ask the man if he wants to sell it….I don’t know Brian as well as you do John but, I have ridden with him a couple times out west on his Nelson Tours…..I understand how he won those two I-500’s….The man can handle a sled in any situation. Those two trips out to West Yellowstone and then Togwotee, are still my two favorite snowmobile rides. Riding out in the mountains with most of my current riding buds, a race legend like Brian and all his race stories were priceless. Great memories. John, I seem to remember a story about you, too. Something about running out of gas and having to push your sled across the finish line….Care to eloborate on that one? Any pictures?

  2. If I had know that Pat was changing the rules for vintage cross country racing I would have bought those two sleds at Hay Days last fall before Pat got to them. They were only about 100 feet away from where I was camped out. The two sleds that we have set up for vintage cross country are now illegal because the engines are 500cc (1980 ElTigre 6000). Anybody got a 78 or 79 ? Or possibly a 440 cc engine that I can put in my 79 rolling chasis?

  3. As a race spectator, seeing this all unfold is going to be about as good as it gets… race safely guys, and hammer down! Go Team Arctic! (sorry to the fine people I have met that may not be driving an Arctic Cat in this event, I just gotta cheer for the home team on this one)!

  4. Nice work Pat and good luck with the new vintage class. Can’t wait to see the old machines back on the course.

  5. WOW 50 something bodies on 35 year old sleds in a 500 miler, I hear the chiropractor in TRF is putting an addition on his building LOL
    A nice 76 CC just sold here in northern IL back in late March, I wonder who got it?

  6. This vintage I-500 class should be a hoot! Getting the legends of I-500 racing involved deffinately adds star power and draw to the event. It was great to ride the Vintage Challenge this year with Brian, JRC, Stan Hayes and Archie Simmonson, but I bet racing with these guys will be a whole other ball game.

    I’ve heard from everyone from vintage collectors, factory racers, factory suppported independants from the 70’s that are chomping at the bit for this race. Maybe we can get former Team Arctic great Doug Oster out there too.

    I plan to make the trip from NY. Planning to attempt the Vintage class (sorry, on a Liquifire) and one day of the Team Class on a new Cat. The rules are posted on

    -Joe Rainville

  7. Promise a really good show…..the level of competition will be as intense as it was in 1978….have riden with Brian, Arch, Stan, Joey, Doug, Bob, recently. Nothing has changed!

  8. I would agree this is the biggest thing coming this winter for vintage. I for one hope I can get out there and attempt to hang with these guys!

  9. OH MY GOSH!!! The next day I can get away and head on down south to find this store I’m THERE! Love your stuff. Can’t wait to see it in person. The store is lovley.I’m so sorry we didn’t get to meet at the Barn House and other surrounding sales. The ladies of Portland pointed you out but you were on your way out when we arrived. Next time. I look forward to meeting you I have heard wonderful things about you.Timi

  10. Hi Tiffany,As you know, I love this store : ) I need to head back there soon. You took great pictures as usual! Sarah has inoermfd me I need a camera like yours : ) I have to run by one day this week and pay you and will get my smashed clock then, lol. Now you are my personal spray painter and clock smasher, you lucky girl!Kathy [url=]pyoubr[/url] [link=]kuirexnmyws[/link]


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