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When Seeing Snowmobiles Was Like Winning the Lottery

Sometimes I forget that there was a time, not too many years ago, when the only viewable information we could get about snowmobiles was either magazines, books and promotional material.

There was no YouTube with a bazillion videos of snowmobiling.

No cottage industry of snowmobile videos. No weekly snocross races on Versus. No X Games.

No internet.


My old and tattered Snow Goer Magazines

Like many families that owned a registered snowmobile, we received a handful of free snowmobile magazines each year. SnowSports. A few Snow Goers. Some others too. I saved every one, and read them over and over. To the point that the covers got trashed.

I was too young and ignorant to actually subscribe to the magazines. If I happened upon a magazine rack that had a snowmobile magazine, it was like winning the lottery.

I don’t believed people shopped as much back in the 1970s as they do now. That, plus the fact that gas stations sold pretty much only gas and hard parts, meant that seeing a newstand was as common as seeing sasquatch.


Be sure to practice safe snowmobiling!

I was so hungry to see anything about snowmobiling, that I would even check out the one lame snowmobile book that was in our school library. It was about 100 pages of text about safe riding, but I looked at it for the 10 photos that actually showed riding.


Scorpion snowmobile promo magazine

Scorpion snowmobile promo magazine

Somehow our family ended up with one of the Scorpion promotional magazines, even though we didn’t even own a Scorp. I read the story about the I-500 race a hundred times, imagining what it must have been like. Those imaginary moments were informed by some brief news coverage I’d happened upon in my youth, where the image of sleds racing down a windswept ditch was seared in my brain.


Archie Comics Snowmobile

Even seeing an Archie comics with a snowmobile theme seemed incredibly-cool.

Man, those moments where I stumbled upon snowmobiles on television truly was like winning the lottery. Whether it was a commercial, news footage or whatever. Even the movie Snowball Express seemed amazingly awesome, simply because of the snowmobile footage. Of course, the only time I saw it was when it played on network TV, which was probably three times my entire life.


CPC Snowmobile Calendar

I remember getting the first CPC Calendar back in the early 1980s. It had the huge, wonderful racing photos, like the one of Bob Elsner taking the victory lap at the 1979 Eagle River World’s Championships. I saved every calendar I got, and studied them for hours many times each year. Still have them!

Maybe it was a good thing…not being able to have/see/consume/watch anything and everything snowmobiling, whenever we wanted? I’m convinced NOT having whatever it is that we want, makes us desire it even more.

I wonder if, like my 10-year-old son Calvin, I could have watched anything snowmobile related whenever I wanted at that age, I would still be so utterly in love with the sport like I am today? Or will the instant-internet-and-everything-else generation burn-out of their interests at the same speed that the images come streaming in?

Obviously, by virtue of the very existence of this site, I’ve embraced the intantly-consumable digital media. And I’m happy to say that I love it dearly. But I also love when the latest snowmobile magazine arrives, and I still save every one.



  1. Jeez John, you should probably return that library book (the fine is probably going to be stout). Remember, “Fun without Damage”! Words to live by! Made me smile:)

  2. some very nice thoughts which i can relate to so very much!
    I also save all my snow mags as well and i keep filling up storage
    containers again and again.
    i’m not sure if i’ll ever part with them as it is so nice to back a few
    decades and read, touch and smell them all over again!
    you just can’t get all those senses sastisfied with a computer screen!
    I sure hope Arctic Cat will start printing Cats Pride again, I have a
    container full of those aswell and I miss looking forward and receiving them in the mail also!

  3. I also can relate to this story. I can remember when the newspapers would have a special section dedicated to snowmobiles and other magazines like Popular Mechanics had a special snowmobiling issue every year. My allowance was saved to buy the latest Race and Rally and it was hitting the lottery as well should I run across a current (or even non-current) SnoWeek. Every copy would be read front to back and every advertisement was studied as well.

    If only this passion could be captured by the younger generation.

  4. John, we must be related, because we sure think alike!
    Remember a snowmobile racing movie in the 70’s…I think it was called “On any Sunday?”

  5. Dang, I was just looking through the mags I’ve saved from past years/decades the other night. Plus, reading the current mags almost on a nightly basis… Read it, read it again… One more read. The anticipation of the upcoming winter season!

  6. John our comments sound like my own. I grew up in Fort Frances ,Ontario on the border with International Falls, Mn. I would walk from the CDN side all the way out to the Wahlgreen drugstore on the the south side of the falls ( about a 5 mile or more walk) to pick up the latest Race and Rally. Many times I would get there and they were sold out or the latest copy had not arrived yet. So when the mag was there it was like Xmas morning and that 5 mile walk home back across the border flew by. When the mag was not there let me say it was a long walk home, I did those walks in the middle of January as a teenager. Talk about nuts. No today I write for Snowtech. How cool is that!

  7. John,

    You need help my friend, but the only thing that seems to be of any use is more news, articles or video on sleds. New, vintage, racing, whatever…

    Funny, but I have that same, very lame, “Safe Snowmobiling” but it has an awsome pic of a Hirth Honker on a late 60’s Moto-Ski chassis, very cool! “A 100 hp motor on a 300 hp machine”


  8. “I’m convinced NOT having whatever it is that we want, makes us desire it even more.”

    This quote right here sums up the essence and allure of snowmobiling itself. If we could head out to the garage, fire up the sleds and hit the trails anytime we wanted, we would eventually lose our desire to do so. Even in the winter months, how many of us follow weather patterns and curse the weatherman when he regretfully brings us the news of a snowstorm in the making.

    That is what makes everyone involved in snowmobiling so passionate about the sport we love. If we aren’t doing it, we’re talking about it. And if we’re not talking about it, we’re researching about it. And if we’re not researching about it, we’re dreaming about it.

    It makes us who we are, and we make it what it is.

  9. Lone Star you are so right! There is not a day that goes by that i do not think about snowmobiling. All ready planing a couple back pack trips. This past week i did some work for a snowmobile club that was founded in the winter of 1969 and 1970, and in the summer of 1970 they built a club house. brought back a lot of memories of the early days of snowmobiling.

  10. I agree with everything above except Hal’s comment about the five mile walk. Hal hitch-hiked in those days, he just didn’t want to write that and have his dad find out that he thumbed a ride in the 70s.
    Everyone who lived and breathed this stuff for decades can not let any piece of sledding documentation go……my life would be incomplete without that row of sled magazines in the study!

  11. Anyone remember the movie “It Ain’t Easy”? It was about crooks that smuggled stuff across the Canadian border using snowmobiles. And because Arctic Cat snowmobiles were used in the filming, we residents of the Thief River Falls area got to see the premier showing at the Falls Theater in Thief River Falls. Wish I could find a copy of that old movie.

  12. I had a “friend” who used to watch the movie Ice Castles for the cool El Tigre ridin scenes in the beginning with the smokin hot Lynn Holly Johnson

  13. Well you hit the jackpot I dont know how to tell you this but its all very true. I started racing in 1973 with my brother ric my dad and mom raced since 1965 for polaris facktory well in 73 with my dad dick daus wrenching driving a eltigra 250 in the central div in ussa we kicked ass so belive it or not in 74 we go sponsered by arcticat we got a 250 z 340 440 and a 440 engine that my dad built a super mod 5 well we won neeneh wisc all in wisc fondulac rhinlander crivits antigo eagle river 2 times that year 1st and 2nt chilton wayeuwega and browsvile all ussa races and went to newyork for the word series and i was wining and f—– crashed owell but then in 75 we got the same deal from arctic cat becouse I got yellow bib no 1 in juner class and my brother ric got no 13 in mens class out of 100 best racers so you want to talk about the old days it hurts I have pics with bob elsner bob eastman and good frends with dick decker audry and the rest of the family becouse we kicked there asses becouse they ran skidoos ha ha well if you ever want to talk 1-920 365-6575 I live for snowmobile racing but Im sick now only 51 but its not good but alls I need is a pic of a twintrack

  14. I wrote that its not my phone no anymore its all true and more my e mail Also I making a page on my facebook page Twintrack snowmobile racing 100s of pics of sled racing also pics of boat racing in 65 my grandpa dick richard lorance nelson raced 280 hydroplane and was very good I have lots of his trophies with my 37

  15. My husband is very nostalgic about his old snow mobility books. His favourite is a book he remembers being called “snowmobiling, the in thing” published mid-late 80s no later than 1994. Had an orange and grey book cover and was filled with survival tips (how to make a fire, etc) but I haven’t been able to locate it. Has anyone heard of it? (Gré up in Ontario, Canada)


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