Snapped near Cable, Wis., in the spring of 1983, this shot of Brian Espeseth, Ole Tweet and Dave Thompson captures the Arctic Cat crew during the Snow Goer magazine Shootout. Too bad there’s no photo of Espeseth grooming the test track with the Panther.
Tell Us a Story: Brian Espeseth Tells Us About the 1984 Snow Goer Shootout
Snow Goer magazine used to do a musclesled shootout every year, in which the manufacturers brought their biggest iron to compete against each other for the title of World’s Fastest.
We’d won the title in 1981 with the el Tigre. And we essentially won it again the next year but the magazine never included our results because Arctic Enterprises was going out of business.
As everyone knows there was no Arctic Cat for 1982 and ’83. But when we brought it back for the 1984 season we naturally wanted another shot at the Snow Goer Shootout title.
The competition was held in Cable, Wis., in the spring of 1983.
Of course since we were just getting the company back in order, we had almost no budget and very little personnel to devote to the Shootout. In fact, it was just Ole Tweet, Dave Thompson and myself who were there for Cat, with the el Tigre and a Panther that we pulled on a two-place trailer.
When we arrived in Cable the day before the Shootout, we discovered that the drag strip had fresh snow. That was a problem!
We were expecting either ice or hardpack, which were the conditions that the el Tigre needed in order to have a chance of winning.
So that night, long after everyone had left the area where the drag strip was, Brian Musselman of Woody’s Traction and I came up with a brilliant plan: we’d pack down the strip!
We found an old four-foot wide drag that the Panther was able to just barely pull if we both sat on sled.
So when the sun went down Brian and I hopped on the Panther with some refreshments and began grooming the drag strip.
Up and down we went, literally for hours, laughing the whole time. We never told Dave or Ole what we were up to, for fear they’d stop us.
The next morning, when we were getting the el Tigre and Panther ready, Dave opened the hood of the Panther and saw the whole bellypan was coated with a layer of belt dust, the belt so narrow it was ready to snap. And it was out of gas.
Dave looked at me with a puzzled expression and asked why the belt was so worn. I replied, “The drag strip needed a little packing.”
Dave gave me that smirk and chuckle that is so unique to him, and nothing more was said.
When we got to the drag strip that morning, it had set-up hard and fast, exactly like Brian and I had expected. Nobody seemed to ask any questions about why the strip was perfectly groomed.
We did excellent in the Shootout, with the el Tigre tying the Polaris Indy for the quickest elapsed time in the 1/8-mile. Mission accomplished!
It was years later before we told anyone about that event. Brian and I have laughed about it ever since.
– Brian Espeseth