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.
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.
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.
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.
Next year’s event is scheduled for January 29-31, 2021. Visit www.mwvss.com for details.
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.
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’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.
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.
Further into the swap meet, you always see at least one guy rebuilding an entire sled just to prove it 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.
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.
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?”
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!
Back to socializing, these guys at the Arctic Restoration Specialties display enjoyed discussing this ZR580.
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.