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Random Photos 6-3-11

1979 Arctic Cat El Tigre

How many people besides me poured over this ad when splashed onto the snowmobile magazines back in 1978-79? As a youngster then, I both dreamed of riding an El Tigre, yet was intimidated by what I imagined was its ungodly power.

All those memories of youthful fascination with snowmobiles are part of the reason I love vintage sleds so dang much, and which is why I love the WOBLE ride from my house to Waconia during vintage weekend.


Always working on KDub's Arctic Cat

Getting ready for the 35-mile ride to Waconia is full of joy and laughter, especially the night before, when a cadre of sled heads congregate at my house. Inevitably, we have to spend some time working on sleds. Actually, working on KDub’s sled.


Aaron Scheele working on KDub's carbs

Yep, it wouldn’t be a night-before-WOBLE without Aaron Scheele performing a carb overhaul on KDub’s SnoCross-Country Pantera Custom.


WOBLE Bull Session

Followed by some bull sessions. Last year Brian Nelson (l), Scheele, Joe Steffen and Eric Bergstrom shared a laugh, probably at my expense.


Bergstrom and Shorty

It’s likely they were laughing at how short I am compared to Eric.


School Sled Stop Ahead

Speaking of short, check out the short-appearing sign my son Cal is pointing at in the ditch by our house. I shot that pic last December, during one of the several storms that blanketed Minnesota.


Oops, that's the ditch

So much snow fell in a short period of time, that Cal and I rode on the roads (yes, on them) throughout the Prior Lake area. At first Cal was nervous that we were doing something illegal. We were, of course, but it was one of those days when the plows were parked and only a few die-hards (or goofballs, you pick) were driving.

The guy who dove into this ditch was not happy.


Hwy 13 in Prior Lake

We stopped and helped a couple people get unstuck. Funny, I drove through the above intersection this morning, and it didn’t look anything like this.


Blowing snow

It snowed all that day. The next morning the sun broke out and so did the snow blowers.


Flood waters

Later last winter Cal and I were riding on the Minnesota River trail between Shakopee and Belle Plain, Minn. Along the way, we stopped so I could snap this photo of him pointing at the grass clumps lodged in the trees, visual evidence of the prior year’s flooding.

With all the snow we received in the winter of 2010-11, this spring brought even more flooding to this area. I wonder how high the grass clumps will be the next time we ride down there?


Ramstad Memorial Trail sign

Riding the River Trail always reminds me of C.J. Ramstad, my favorite snowmobiling journalist.

Years ago C.J. compiled his Pappy columns into a book called The Collected Works of Pappy. In that book, C.J.’s intro was a story about a young man who was riding a snowmobile  through a river bottoms area and happened upon Pappy, the curmudgeonly snowmobile guru who knows everything about sleds and life. It’s one of my favorite pieces of C.J.’s writing, and worth finding the book if you don’t already have it.

I shot the above photo a month or so ago, when I was at the MSPN offices.


MSPN Magazines

C.J. and his bro-in-law Joel ran that publishing company. After C.J. died in May 2007, Joel has “run the ship,” and done a fine job despite the terrible loss. The magazine rack illustrates all of the titles they produce. Cool!


Joel at MSPN

Here’s Joel doing what he does best: selling ads. Sell, Joel, SELL!


Pine Lake Race

The last few photos for today are about cross-country and USCC. The first (above) is a shot I snapped along the course of the USCC Pine Lake race during the 2008 season. Though it’s hard to see, there is a pair of goggles taped to the Pine Lake Rd. sign, placed there by some clever racer who anticipated visibility problems during the race.


Team Arctic's Pat Mach and Brad Pake in the '99 I-500

Speaking of USCC, how about this photo of circuit founder, Pat Mach (foreground), dicing with Brad Pake during the 1999 Warroad I-500?! I ran across it the other day, which made me smile. I only wished I’d found it and sent it to Pat before he’d passed.


In Memory of Pat Mach

RIP Pat. We miss you. Yet we’re glad to see your circuit remains, and already has THIS schedule for next season.



  1. Brian claimed my clutches would never make it 40 miles through the WOBLE…thats why they were laughing! Once again, sorry about dumping 20 gallons of raw gas on your yard. Thanx Aaron for the carb lesson!!!

  2. Hey John,

    Nice article as always. Do you know where we can get copies of those tribute stickers to Pat? I would like to put a few on my I-500 sled and 09 Sno Pro that I was racing when I first met Pat at the Maine 100 in the 09/10 season.

    See you at the 50th!
    “John Deere Joe” Rainville

  3. Joe, next time you’re at a USCC race you need to find Kallock’s trailer and talk to Tom. He had those stickers made by Brian Perrault at Custom Stripes and was selling them for $5. All the money went to Minto Baseball, an organization set up by Pat to help youth baseball in Minto, ND.

  4. Cool photos! For me, vintage sleds are from the early 80’s, at least the ones I want to ride again. :). It is cool to read posts about old sleds and you guys reminiscing!

  5. I had the pleasure of running into Joel ( “Smokin Joel” as he was referred to by a co-worker) last week as I was dropping of my Boat Proppeller for repair at the neighboring business of MSPN. He was taking a smoke break out front and saw my HMK hat and noted the Arctic Insider decal on my truck and made a comment. What an interesting fellow, he mentioned they had all the C.J. archives in the building, and how John Sandberg often shows up to go through them or help Joel identify certain pics. Oh what I’d give to spend a few hours trolling around in those archives……John you are a lucky man to have that access!

  6. I hand built my 1980 El Tigre’ 5000 and completely updated the suspension on my little brother’s El Tigre’ 6000 back in the late 80’s. Those sleds flew. We lined up on a Sunday afternoon on the Red Lake River with 15 field testers & engineers between the 2 of us who were on new Wildcat’s & El Tigre’ 6’s & I smoked everybody on the holeshot while my brother blew past everybody on the outside. It was pretty cool how the “old iron” straight axle sleds completely thrashed the new stuff on pure speed.

  7. My Snowmobile Jack arrived this aforneotn as you predicted. It took me longer to open the carton and prepare the cardboard for recycling then it did to assembly my jack. It works great and I am glad I ordered it. Also the long track extension bar gives me the extra leverage this old man needs to easily lift my sled.

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