All of us have our heroes, and I recently caught up with one of mine – Aaron “Iceman” Scheele.
Aaron and I aren’t terribly far apart in age, but as a kid (Highschool/College), Aaron was one of my favorite racers. In the 90s, Aaron could seemingly do it all from ice racing to snocross aboard his ZRs. An era of snowmobiles, and snowmobile racing, remaining close to my heart to this day.
The first couple weeks into the start of my marketing job at Arctic Cat (2004), Aaron stepped into my office to welcome me, and introduce himself. I honestly don’t remember what I said, but I do remember thinking after he left, “Holy Sh#t this job is awesome! That was the Iceman!”
Fast forward nearly twenty years later, and Im proud to say Aaron and his family have become good friends of mine.
Sap story over, we got to hang out in his shop and caught up on many things:
Snocross Racing – The New ZR6000R SX
Aaron was working on his son Anson’s new 2021 ZR6000R SX. (Anson is racing for Christian Brothers in Pro Lite) Aaron lit up talking about the latest ZR, starting with the new rear skidframe.
There is so much science involved in the development of a rear skidframe, Ill never understand it, but Aaron did his best to explain the benefits of the new 2-inch longer front torque arm. The front arm is a critical component in determining how the front of the snowmobile reacts through bumps under acceleration – too long or too short, the front end can point to the sky, or the ground. The goal is to get the front end light enough to clear obstacles, yet retain the most forward motion (traction).
Per Aaron, in testing, Anson and his Pro teammate, Logan Christian, both say their 2021 ZRs are far superior to the ZRs they ran last year. Rider confidence and lap times are proving its superiority and ability to make quick work of rough terrain.
Aaron also lit up about the improvements to the bottom end engine response and mid-range power increases they’ve seen. In back-to-back testing, Anson and Logan claim last years ZR engine had taller legs on the top end, but it took time to get there. The 2021 has power right now, helping holeshots and navigating out of big bumps quicker and with more confidence. Combined with new rear skidframe, this combo is proving to be working really well in early testing. (News I like to hear)
Project Cheeter Touring
Aaron put it best when transitioning topics, “Let’s talk about the proverbial brown elephant in the room!” (Laughs) He was referring to the 1989 Cheetah Touring sitting on the lift next to Anson’s SX.
Between myself, and Sandberg, we’ve shared Aaron’s snowmobile retro mods on these pages several times in the past. Most of those builds centered around stuffing big-bore engines (Thundercats, ZRTs and such) into 78 or 79 El Tigres. In fact, my very own 78 Tigre 6144 was built in Aarons shop.
This project is a little different. Aaron saw this 1989 basket case at Thomas Sno Sports and didn’t think much of it, until he found a new NOS seat cover and seat foam after rifling through Tom’s parts inventory. The deal was sealed after finding a new hood and windshield, and Tom personally volunteering to load it into Aaron’s truck.
After a bit of deliberation on how to proceed with the build, Aaron remembered having a 2010-era fan-cooled 570 engine and components looking for a home. That answered it, and thus started project Cheeter Touring – the ultimate retro mod workhorse.
As you can imagine, Aaron’s (near) end results are pretty fantastic, as is the Cheetah’s near NOS appearance.
The 570 fan looks like it just bolted in, but Aaron spent alot of time fitting this proper. Electric start, hyrdraulic brakes and modern clutching…what a treat this would have been in 1989.
Above, Aaron retro’d the gauge from a donor F570. (It works) As well, he used donor handlebars and controls from the same unit that run the hand warmers and lights.
In the rear, Aaron utilized a 136-inch skidframe from a 2000-era touring model. (Note the articulating rear) With these vintage rear skid swaps, its tough to run a tall lug track because of clearance at the front of the tunnel. This is a 1-inch lug.
I look forward to checking back in with Aaron after the first ride and shake down.
Ill share Part 2 of our visit before the year ends, when we take a look at a few more of Aaron’s project, and personal sleds in his collection.
One of the greatest guys! Its easy to see why hes your hero. That Cheetah will be fun. Ive enjoyed seeing Aarons past sano Tigre builds. Thanks for sharing.
Did you mean to say “The front arm is ‘instrumental’ in determining how the front of the snowmobile reacts..?
I like the history hanging on the walls. I too loved watching Aaron race. He always had the trademark knee and long leg hanging off the sled.
I had a cheetah touring but it wasn’t the brown color. That was a tank of a sled. Sadly we ran it into the ground as a work/hunt/fish sled at our cabin.
What is the Skime hat on your shelf? Nice Cheetah build Aaron.
Nice update Kale from the Monster garage..I know it’s been too long for a visit Aaron when I read about it first on AI. I been so caught up in my own project I haven’t been around to see yours..I need to come up for a Clinic from you on this new racer. Will my old passcode still get me in the door? See you soon..Jim
Jim Dimmerman – Your passcode: CheetosIceCreamSammich will still get you in the door…
Hey Terry, that gem of a hat from everyone’s hero Roger belongs to Kale.
Jim, the monster garage is always open! Wouldn’t be what it is without your help!
Glad to see you lending a hand to the Arctic Sno Cross efforts again this year Aaron, and keeping the old relics still runnin’ too! Wishing Anson and his team a great safe season and hoping you don’t get any speeding tickets on the re-powered Cheetah.
THis guy rocks rode out west with him back in 2011
Kale, I noticed a dealer near me had close to a dozen 2020 used cats for sale. I called to find out what was the deal with them, I was interested in a riot. They said they bought a truck load of demos from cat. I asked if they were preproduction, they said no. I asked if they had the sdi engine he said they have the 19 dsi engine. So wouldn’t these units be preproduction? And it seems to me that cat wouldn’t want these sleds sold as 2020 machines when they aren’t truly a 2020 as they have the old engine still. These sleds varied in mileage and were all in the 12k price range. Which is higher than the new snowmageddon price was in some cases on these machines new.
Jason – There were 2020 Riots early built with, what I’d call, the Gen 1 CTEC2 engine (Slotted Piston). I had one and it was fantastic. I cant speak to where the dealer got a dozen of them, but I don’t think there is anything shady going on, if thats what you are worried about. $12k? That price tag is a result of supply and demand…I purchased my Blast through Snowmageddon at $7095. Ive seen dealers asking $9k for them now and they are selling. (I now wish I ordered two) We are finally living in a world where Spring Ordering makes complete sense if you want the best deal.
A LOT of great memories have been made in that shop! Aaron is both genious, and generous, when it comes to working on Arctic Cats. Thanks for the update Kale… and thanks for resurrecting a sweet, brown Arctic Cat Aaron! Jim, I don’t know about pass codes, but if you ever want to have a reunion in North Branch, I’ll supply the Cheetoh Puffs. Good luck this season, Team Scheele!
Does this guy install handlebar risers?
Any highly successful athlete from any sport could learn from Aaron on how to handle success and respect to those who admired them through their careers. Still one of the finest people you will ever have a chance to meet. Cat had allot of past racers who fell into the category.
Please give updates on the Cheetah rebuild. This sounds like a great way for a guy on a budget to build a simple work sled for dragging the grand kids around, yet still use it for a putt putt sled.