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TRF Engineering Test Ride Report

Arctic Cat Engineers stop to compare notes on the test sleds

Every few weeks throughout the winter, a handful of Arctic Cat engineers spend the day riding and evaluating snowmobiles. Sometimes they’re production machines, sometimes they’re prototypes, sometimes they’re competitors’ sleds and sometimes they’re mix of all three. These rides (and the discussions that ensue throughout the ride) help inform where the products “are” and where they need to “go.”

On this particular day (Thurs., Feb. 4), the group consisted of VP Roger Skime, Doug Wolter (Director of engineering), Troy Halvorson (High Performance Group Leader), Greg Spaulding (Engine Group Leader, 2-Stroke), Joey Hallstrom (Product Manager) and myself. The collective knowledge represented by this group of engineers is mind-boggling, and it’s both an honor and education to ride with them.


Joey prepping his ice-beating electric goggles

Joey Hallstrom was testing some electric-heated goggles which, with freezing rain for the first couple hours of the ride, proved an excellent choice. Hallstrom led the ride at a pace that he used to finish an impressive fifth overall in the I-500 Expert 85 class a couple weeks back. In other words, WFO.


Arctic Cat's Troy Halvorson and Roger Skime

Troy Halvorson (left) and Roger Skime tag-team a track adjustment somewhere northwest of Thief River Falls. Makes me wonder how many times Roger has adjusted a track in his nearly-five-decade career?


Arctic Cat 2-Stroke Engine specialist, Greg Spaulding

Greg Spaulding, shown here with 2010 F model that had a 2011 ECU program for its EFI system. Throughout the year, Cat engine/EFI specialists work to improve the program for each model by focusing on emissions, performance, fuel consumption and more. This particular model showed crisper low- and mid-range performance.


Stop for the kids in New Folden

Our route brought us through New Folden at the exact time school let out for lunch, so we stopped momentarily to watch a few dozen kids cross in front of us. I’d bet that one-quarter of these kids were wearing Arctic Cat colors, and most of them waved or extended their hands for a high-five. Very cool!


Arctic Cat Engineering test ride

These guys are very deliberate about knowing and understanding ALL snowmobiles, including the fair and thoughtful analysis of competitors’ sleds like this 800 E-Tech from Ski-Doo.


Arctic Cat engineer ride filling up in Grygla

A quick fuel and lunch break in Grygla offered another chance to compare observations and riding impressions of the sleds. Makes me wonder how many times these guys have stopped in Grygla during a test ride, and how many ideas have been hatched while pouring fuel or eating a hamburger.


Back at the Arctic Cat factory in TRF

Back at the plant in TRF.


The Arctic Cat odometer tells only part of the story

A couple clicks over 130 miles, a half-day that was well-spent and enlightening for all participants.


Arctic Cat VP of Engineering, Roger Skime

Any day he can ride a snowmobile is a good day for Roger Skime, even if he has to wear this strange shirt.


Arctic Cat engineers Troy Halvorson (L) and Doug Wolter

Back in the engineering shop, Troy Halvorson (left) and Doug Wolter talk about what they observed during the day’s ride. The power of face-to-face conversation is key to the success of Arctic Cat’s products, as communication flows freely (and frequently) among the many groups within the company.



  1. How cool is that. Can I go on the next ride? I won’t tell any secrets. I promise.

    Geesh, how’d they get that 800 E-tec so fast? A buddy of mine and Doo rider, is going to test ride one of those 800’s tomorrow….

    I sure hope Greg Spaulding and crew have a cool 2-stroke 2012 EPA compliant motor package coming….

  2. Very Cool! I love reading all the “Insider”, “close to the factory” information you put on here. Again, Good job Sandberg!

  3. The visorless moto helmet is a mainstay for a handful of Arctic Cat guys like Skime, Coltom, Spaulding and some others. When you ride at or near the triple-digit mark all day long, going visorless eases the neck strain and wind noise. Trust me, these guys ride at that pace ALL DAY LONG.

  4. Were you guys on the river by 8th street bridge at about 11:00 on Friday? If so, I passed by you guys. I’d love to go on one of those rides, though I don’t think I’d be able to keep up! Near triple digits all day? Screw that, especially along the highways.

  5. that would be a dream ride for me just to go for a day and hang out, promise I would not slow down anybody!!! How cool would that be just to ride with these people?

    I’m removing my sun visor off my txi as I type this!!!

    2011 cat for me!!

  6. I was in the blackcat on feb.3 and I asked Joey if we could ride with him on thursday but told us NO! I see why. John Sandberg you lucky SOB!!!Over 40 years riding a/c in a row!….Pierre Lacat!

  7. I am very glad about your realisation of your way of trnnaiig your daughter. It is never too late. Yes, a perfectionist is always the one that cannot enjoy what they already have. Let’s be more content and enjoying whatever we are doing!


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