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Take Me Back to the Midwest Ride-In

Take Me Back to the Midwest Ride-In

Words: Kale Wainer and Pat Bourgeois/Mn Snowmobiling magazine

Photos: Kale Wainer and Pat Bourgeois

I’m slightly depressed witnessing some of my favorite summer events being cancelled due to the COVID-19 nonsense, but my mind frequently revisits one snowmobile event from this past winter which puts a huge smile on my face – the Midwest Ride-In at ERX Motor Park in Elk River, MN. I truly cannot wait to return to this family-friendly snow event!

During the summer of 2019, Midwest Vintage Snowmobile Shows (MVSS), an all-volunteer, non-profit committee and the driving force behind the Waconia Ride-In, selected ERX as the events new home after needing to be relocated.

The new Midwest Ride-In location was a smashing success as thousands of snowmobile lovers invaded ERX to celebrate the largest antique, vintage and classic snowmobile event in the world. The three-day event attracted participants and spectators from as far away as British Columbia, Maine and Texas.

ERX has a 5 mile one-way trail loop that attendees enjoyed at their leisure 

With sufficient snow and perfect weather, riders were out in droves exploring the groomed trails, visiting the swap meet, watching races, taking Arctic Cat demo rides and socializing around a massive bonfire tucked away trailside amongst the rolling hardwoods.  The Saturday morning Jack Speckel Trail Ride had over 650 vintage sleds participate in the five plus mile parade lap.

650+ snowmobiles lined up to participate in the Jack Speckel memorial ride. The line-up of sleds encompassed nearly all 5 miles of the one-way trail loop. Impressive to witness!

The Midwest Ride-In also included a sprawling swap meet outside and an impressive sled display inside where this year’s featured Winnipeg to St. Paul International 500 cross-country racing theme came to life. On Sunday, hundreds of show sleds were on display for what is often consider one of the best attended judged snowmobile shows anywhere.

Sunday has one of the finest judged snowmobile displays anywhere. Pictured is a small sample of sleds on display. Photo: Pat Bourgeois Mn Snowmobiler Magazine

On the ERX regional track, the Minnesota One Lunger Racing group held a 90-minute endurance race for vintage snowmobiles.  Kids Pro Ice completed their two full days of oval racing for kids 4-12 on a pond expanded just for the Ride-In. 

Vintage snow oval racing was quite entertaining on the ERX Regional track

Next year’s event is scheduled for January 29-31, 2021. Visit for details.

Wyatt Anderson from Thief River Falls, MN

The first person I ran in to cruising the ERX grounds was my buddy Wyatt Anderson from Thief River Falls, MN. Wyatt has quite the Arctic Cat collection and has an affinity for early 60’s models.

Donn Eide

After talking to Wyatt, my son and I walked another twenty feet and ran into Donn Eide. Donn was the head of two-stroke engine development at Arctic Cat until his retirement a few years ago.

Donn Eide

Donn’s passion for Arctic Cat and it’s history hasn’t deminished with his retirement. He speaks fondly of all the coworkers, projects and good times at Arctic Cat.  As we were talking, the gentleman in the sweet purple AC jacket overheard Donn ask me if I knew anyone interested in buying some of his vintage clothing. Sadly, I don’t think this swapper knew he was talking to an Arctic Cat legend. 

Arctic Cat Posters Anyone?

I enjoyed seeing these posters all framed and for sale. I myself have every one of these and a whole lot more. One of my favorite projects in the AC marketing department, was to work on these Team Arctic, Waiting for Winter and other promotional posters.

So many posters choices

Further into the swap meet, you always see at least one guy rebuilding an entire sled just to prove it ran when parked…

Ran when parked

It’s always a pleasure to run into Eric Bergstrom (R). Eric always has a smile on his face, and genuinely lights up when discussing Arctic Cat, and quite frankly, snowmobiling in general. Check out the all-new Thomas Sno Sports website – Eric works for TSS and is the driving force behind the new site and its all new online ordering.

Eric Bergstrom (R) ArcticInsider's biggest fan

Speaking of Thomas Sno Sports – In conjunction with Waconia Farm Supply and Arctic Cat, the trio provided demo rides on 2021 models, including the all-new Blast. ERX would mark one of the first opportunities for those in the surrounding Minneapolis area to throw a leg over these new sleds, and the turn out was fantastic.

The 2021 Arctic Cat demo rides went strong all weekend at ERX. Riders got the opportunity to rip around the famed Off Road Truck Track

2021 Arctic Cat Demo Rides on the All-New Blast Models


My son is a big fan of Wes Selby 15, Pro cross-country racer for Team Arctic. The smile on his face when he saw one of Wes’ sleds was priceless. “Dad. Can you take my photo? You gonna send it to Wes?”  

My son with Wes Selby's Cross Country ZR

Wes Selby #15

One of my favorite surprises on the ERX grounds, was this “watering hole” stop on the 5-mile loop. Complete with a custom square body Chevy truck turned into a mobile saloon, and a monsterous fire pit ring. Snowmobile stories and laughter consumed the hundreds who gathered in this area watching snowmobiles drive by. This gathering spot, to me, serves as a reminder that snowmobiling is fun because of the social aspects. Our sport needs more of this! 

The watering hole

Back to socializing, these guys at the Arctic Restoration Specialties display enjoyed discussing this ZR580. 

Arctic Restoration Specialties

Enjoy the rest of these random Arctic Cat themed photos below. I truly urge everyone reading to mark this snowmobile event on your calendar for this winter. 

Ran when parked. Runs on Spray. Needs a carb Clean. My brothers uncles cousin said it did a hunerd.

Sleigh Me.

In a list of many, these are two of my favorite AC sleds

These guys couldn't decide who had the coolest hat.

I own this exact same set up (Cans and Holder) but always thought holder was homemade. The owner of this one told me the can holder was actually an Arctic Cat accessory. Score!!

ElTigre anyone?

In the summer I love laying stripes on my lawn. In the winter I prefer them on 1976 Arctic Cats. Damn sexy.

The mid 90s ZR's are increasing in popularity with collectors, and youngsters like my son 14-30yrs old are flocking towards these sleds. I can't blame them.

Fresh and Clean

Comes with Extras should have listed the Speedwerx Supercharger. Just kidding.

One of my favorite photos from Midwest Ride In. So many brands represented at this event!

Lastly, a shameless self promotion of me (Kale) and Pat Bourgeois' dog, Dozier. I realized we have the same facial hair.



  1. We drove from Michigan to attend. First time going and we were nervous with new venue. For years read about Waconia and this year bit the bullet. We had a great time! Getting in early Saturday was a bit of a wait, but cudos to the ERX staff. They made more parking on the grounds as needed. Lol. Can’t wait to attend next year. Gonna bring a few more sleds and a few more friends.

  2. I was a big fan of Waconia location. I think the idea of riding on the lake is a better option. I skipped ERX this year so they can work out the kinks. Heard good things though, so Ill attend next year. Thanks for the photos.

  3. Want to sell any of those posters you have Kale? Bet you have quite the stash having worked in marketing! If you had anything to do with the Waiting for Winter stuff, those were my favorites!

  4. I thought that everyone involved pulled off an OUTSTANDING event at the new ERX location. Was cool to be present for the inagural event, looking forward to the next one. Gotta start building my ZRT to take part in Triple Wars!

  5. I agree with the comments shared here about ERX. It was a great event! One thing not captured in this article, was the AC demo rides. These demos on the Blast sealed the deal for me and I snow checked a Blast ZR. Thank you to AC, Thomas Sno Sports and Waconia Powersports for making this happen. I hope you guys are there next year doing the same with 2022’s and ERX puts up more signage. Riding around that truck track was fantastic!

  6. Talbo – Im happy you made the trek from MI. Hope to see you next year.
    Dulpher – Im contemplating selling off some of my poster collection. You can email if interested.
    Paul – The stache got trimmed off while “quarantined”. It will reappear though.
    Tom Rowland – I challenge you to stuff a ZRT triple in a Kitty Cat. Call Scheele and Dimmerman right now.
    Chad – You’re absolutely right! I forgot to add the demo rides. Now added. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

  7. Hopefully, Haydays isn’t canceled ! They just canceled EAA . Which is a bigger event than Haydays ! And only 6 weeks before Haydays ! Summer won’t be the the same with out Grass Season .


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