I hit my first snowmobile show/swap event of the 2013-14 season this past weekend in Princeton, Minn., where the 20th Annual Outlaw Drags unfolded in perfect opposition to a blasted heat wave.
There’s a decidedly vintage sled feel to Princeton, which hits you the moment you walk through the gate via some really cool displays, including this Arctic Cat Lynx mod owned by Cat collector Jack Speckel.
I love the Lynx/Puma mod singles… they’re so dang short and containable.
In contrast to the tiny Lynx, this custom 1969 Panther stretch offers a bit more leg room.
A beautiful 1968 Arctic Cat Cougar. This “hedged bet” against the slide-rail suspension looks really gnarly-tough (badass) in person.
Speaking of gnarly-tough, vintage/I-500 guru Jess Babler poses with this 1975 Arctic Cat El Tigre Cross-Country. Jess is trying to learn as much as he can about this little-known cross-country sled, so if anyone reading this can provide some info on the ultra-rare CC El Tigre, please post it in the comments here.
I guess there was a bit of an I-500 theme running through my day at Princeton, as evidenced by this Panther featuring the remnants of decals from the great race…
… and I-500 double-winner Brian Nelson showing a poster of the proposed return-to-Winnipeg route for 2015. Nelson has continued to make progress on this endeavor and was eager to talk about his intentions to go four days (and across the border) in two year’s time.
Stopping by to talk with Nelson about the upcoming USXC race season were Team Arctic phenom Zach Herfindahl (right) and his dad Greg. Zach is about five weeks into his recovery from a broken collarbone that occurred in a motorcycle harescrambles event, and is on track to be in shape for the cross-country season.
There is a ton of new stuff on display at Princeton, including the Arctic Cat truck with all the 2014 snowmobiles and new ATVs.
I spent some time with the new iron at Princeton, but my primary goal this trip was to see the magic on display in the swap meet.
I wasn’t intent to buy anything in particular, however, I did bring five Benjamins in case something caught my eye…
…so of course EVERYTHING caught my eye.
I have almost pulled the trigger on buying an Arctic Cat minibike about 10 times in the past handful of years, only to get cold feet when it was deal time. This Prowler looked decent and held my gaze for a good five minutes.
Speaking of Arctic Cat mini bikes, take a look at the “before” images of this Cub from the 1964-65 period.
Here’s the “after.” Beautiful!
Ralph Pribyl (right), owner of Bottom Line Traction, shares his cool swap “find” with Tom Rowland. The “find” was a bunch of photo negatives and prints of the 1974 Arctic Cat El Tigre 400 that undoubtedly originated at Arctic Enterprises.
I love that stuff from the old Arctic Enterprises period makes its way into the world of swaps. Better that it be seen and available than just holed up in someone’s barn in perpetuity.
One guy who’s making sure that a lot of Arctic Cat stuff from the 1970s IS in the public domain is Matt Linn, an Illinois collector who pays for his hobby by buying out old Cat dealerships of their inventory, then selling what he doesn’t want at various swap meets around the country.
Linn had piles of NOS goodies at reasonable prices.
Purple PowerLube anyone?
There are fantastic sights to behold at swaps, some of which don’t directly involve snowmobiles.
I gotta say, compared to Hay Days, the Princeton swap is decidedly more snowmobile-specific, with far fewer examples of sellers trying to unload washing machines, shingles, door handles or asbestos.
Princeton also has a more laid-back vibe, perhaps because it’s not quite as large as Hay Days.
The ONE thing I should have bought at Princeton was this pair of Arcticwear one-piece suits festooned with cool patches. Alas, the five Bens stayed in my wallet and I left without adding any more projects to my plate.
Of course, I could have left with great stuff that wasn’t a project, but instead a beautiful running vintage machine.
The Gimp, aka Team Arctic’s Aaron Scheele (right) was nursing a broken collarbone and buying sweet knit Arcticwear sweaters like they were going out of style.
One of Bobby Flame’s sleds was for sale at Princeton, complete with the 20-in. handlebar riser and a Klymax! decal.
One of the other cool aspects to Princeton is the Friday night vintage sled drags under the lights. Super laid-back and enjoyable, with conversations about great rides and experiences punctuated by the occasional roar of four sleds hurling down the strip. Truly good times!
Like any swap meet I go to, Princeton TOTALLY put me in a snowmobile state of mind. I’d been tiptoeing around sled projects all summer, not wanting to commit until my head was in the game (and I’d gotten done regular summer stuff).
Most of the “regular” summer stuff still isn’t done, of course, but my head is now swirling with thoughts of winter and all the stuff I want to get done in anticipation of it.
Thanks to all the people who made Princeton happen (and who forced me to refocus my priorities)!
And thanks for reading.