This past weekend, I attended the Snowmobile Hall of Fame event in St. Germain, Wisconsin. Ill openly admit, this was the first time I had ever been to one, and I’m slightly ashamed it took me so damn long – This. Event. Was. Phenomenal! There’s a lot to cover from everything the weekend had to offer, so Ill get into it with some photos and captions which hopefully will push any late adapters like myself, to attend in the future. For more info on the event(s), visit
Snowmobilehalloffame.com. Enjoy! – Kale
There were four great inductees this year. (L-R) Tucker Hibbert, Greg Spaulding, John Daniels and Randy Karpik. CLICK on the blue links to read their Inductee bios, as well as other names appearing throughout this story.
I arrived late on Thursday and missed the 2nd Annual event called Legend Laps which took place at the World Championship Derby Complex in Eagle River, Wisconsin. The intent of the event is to raise money for the Snowmobile Hall of Fame by ripping some laps aboard snowmobiles that have, or could, compete on the famed ice oval. This group of attendees was all smiles.
A few of the snowmobiles at the Legend Laps event.
I went in to the weekend, with ZERO plans and ZERO expectations. Thursday night I arrived in St. Germain after road tripping with friend and SHOF board member, Pat Bourgeois. At dinner, we ran into inductee, Randy Karpik, and were invited to his rental cabin where other industry friends were going to gather. Shortly after arrival, and drinking ONE can of liquid trumpet player, I ushered in the weekend by playing a wall mounted bugle intended for decoration. You can imagine the surprise reactions of those who called “bullsh*t” when I told them I USED to play trumpet, and then scratched out a barely recognizable rendition of Taps.
Friday morning, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with friend, co-worker at Arctic Cat and soon-to-be SHOF inductee, Greg Spaulding (R) and Pat Bourgeois (L). Greg was still somewhat unsure of how to edit his induction speech for length, and Pat gave him some guidance. I have to say, for a guy who was nervous, Greg completely nailed his speech by controlling the room, thanking those who got him to where he is today, adding humor and even moments of emotion. Personally, I never thought Id get choked up at this event, but I did shed a few tears when Greg mentioned the importance of his friend, mentor and boss, Donn Eide, who had passed away not long ago in 2022. Greg did get the crowd laughing again though when he referred to his absolute obsession with snowmobiles at a young age, “There were two things that kept me from going to college…that was Grade School and High School!” 🙂
There were many things to pass the time on Friday including an inaugural event added by the SHOF, called the Reunion Ride. The featured snowmobile was Scorpion, and many models representing the brand were on the ride, including the Sidewinder prototype in this group photo.
Friday Night was the SHOF Fish Fry, with special guest speakers, the Karpik brothers. Pat Bourgeois (red plaid) introduces (L-R) Randy, David and Gerard Karpik. In a round table style setting, the crowd asked questions of the famed brothers regarding their involvement in the industry. Racing, development of M10 suspensions and thoughts of competing against the big four OEMs with their BLADE snowmobile were all topics covered.
The room at the Whitetail Inn was packed for the fish fry, and as I look at this photo, it was filled with smiling faces I am fortunate enough to have worked with, met and call friends. The Karpik’s did a great job entertaining everyone, and oddly, they didn’t ask me to come on stage to play bugle.
As I eluded to in the previous photo, the Fish Fry event was like a reunion for me. Arctic Cat Rep, Manny Sparks (R), is pictured here with Ryan Hayes. Two friendly (and knowledgeable) industry personalities I always enjoy being around.
Manny grabbed a photo of myself (R) talking to a past SHOF inductee, co-worker and friend, Joey Hallstrom. Joey was asking me for tips on growing facial hair…something he just can’t figure out.
Saturday morning was the day I was looking forward to most, as this was the Ride With the Champs event. There are several groups which attendees can sign-up for, including the Arctic Cat 68 Ride. I don’t know the final count, but this ride filled up quick, and with some pretty heavy hitter names including inductee, Tucker Hibbert at the top of the page.
Beyond Tucker, some of those heavy-hitter riders are gathered here with big smiles after registration. (L-R) Rich from TA Motorsports, Zach Herfindahl (freshly back from winning his 5th I500), Ben Langaas (Arctic Cat Performance Engineer and racer), Manny Sparks (Arctic Cat Rep) and Mike Kloety (Team Arctic Race Manager).
I signed up for the Arctic Cat 68 Ride, but opted out of physically participating on the trail ride portion. There was a lot going on Saturday, and I had yet to get a chance to visit the actual Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain, so I went there before driving my truck to the 68 Ride lunch destination. At the SHOF, was this awesome display of historic Tucker Hibbert race sleds, including his ZR 600 used to capture his 100th win in Deadwood, SD. The sled has been untouched since the race.
There are plenty of historic Arctic Cat race sleds on display at the SHOF, including these two owned by Thomas Sno Sports. The 96 ZR 440 on the right was referenced by Tucker in his induction speech. Tucker won his first-ever snocross race in West Yellowstone aboard this machine, which was actually his father’s ( Kirk Hibbert). Tucker told the crowd, he not only borrowed Kirk’s sled, he also borrowed some of his riding gear just to be able to compete. 🙂
Staged next to the Pake and Hibbert ZRs, was this 1988 Wildcat raced by Brian Sturgeon. One of the greatest parts of Ride With the Champs weekend, is the actual opportunity to interact with the champs. Seconds after this photo, Brian relayed some great stories regarding this snowmobile, and curious attendees gathered to listen. ( Brian was an inductee last year)
Mike Franckowiak is a young fella who has a fine collection of modern era Arctic Cat race sleds. Here, he shows me his support for ArcticInsider. Mike was wearing a Team Arctic coat from his collection, purchased from Ryan Simons.
As an Arctic Cat fan, I enjoyed seeing these Sno Pros from Dan Ebert, Trevor John and Ryan Simons.
Dan Ebert was at the induction dinner, but regretfully, I didn’t take his photo. I did run across his dad, Russ Ebert (R) and Ron Bergman (L). Russ was pretty excited to find the very first laydown engine prototypes on display at the Snowmobile Hall of Fame. This was a special moment for me…first, I highly respect these two for their creative minds and engineering accomplishments, second, I learned something…I never realized Russ and Ron had a hand in the development of the laydown engine which debuted in 2002. In my mind, I always thought it was Greg Spaulding and Donn Eide.
In Greg Spaulding’s induction speech, he mentioned Ron Bergman’s idea to create the “Skinny Minny” snowmobile. Ron sectioned a ZR, and made a lightweight, narrow prototype leading to the development of the first Firecat. Greg also mentioned how the development of the laydown engine gave Arctic Cat an advantage to keeping mass centralized. This is also what Ron and Russ are discussing here.
Many evolutions later, the laydown engine continues to give Arctic Cat a competitive advantage by keeping centralized mass low. This is especially true with the launch of the all-new 2024 CATALYST platform.
Speaking of the 2024 CATALYST models…I shared this photo on ArcticInsider’s social media pages of a new RXC that had been brought by Ben Langaas for the Ride With the Champs event, and it sparked plenty of comments asking if the CATALYST was actually full-sized, or if the truck bed was 10ft long. To lay your minds at ease, the truck bed is 8ft long, and the RXC didn’t have skis. Mystery solved. 🙂
THIS STORY IS CONTINUED…
CLICK THE LINK TO READ PART II where I re-join the Arctic Cat 68 group ride at their lunch destination. I also hope to get my hands on videos of the actual inductee speeches to share with you. This week, Ill also share some of my own videos. Stay tuned, and thanks for reading – Kale