Warriors of Winter
The previously untold history of snowmobile racing by Bill Vint
Purchase the book through World Snowmobile Headquarters
Carbides were not used on snow tracks
1969-1970 - Page 113
"Snowmobiles raced on snow tracks, but many of the high banked ovals either had too much snow, which was seldom packed or groomed, or too little snow, which tore up machines."
1972-1973 - Page 156
"Kalamazoo Engineering Racing Team...was busy compiling an incredible record of 114 finishes "in the money" out of 128 starts, including 57 victories."
1972-1973 - Page 170
"Most snowmobile race promoters clung to the traditional snow covered oval with high banked corners. The charm, the excitement, the glamour and thrills of snowmobile racing had been built upon the image of machines hurdling high around the turns, bounding off the fences and charging toward the straightaway as though propelled by a slingshot."
"Sponsors weren't in the sport to lose money." Keep in mind that when you see a racer's name being used in advertising that racing is an expensive business. How much product a manufacturer is willing to give away usually determines how many racers will be using their product. Some racers are even paid to use a product, or at least, display their decals.
Race and Rally,1974
Way back in the early years of snowmobile racing some people ( like the WSA ) had the weird idea that races should be held on snow. Of course,
now days us sophisticated types know snow machines are supposed to race on slick courses resembling more a skating rink. But way back in the spring of 1968 at a little heard of western town called West Yellowstone, they actually ran a snowmobile race on snow. There is always plenty of snow at West, this time 6 or 7 feet of it where they were going to race.
Old timers like Darrell Triber and Bob Bromley shown on the right now like to sit in their rockers and reminisce about the " good ol' days' while they listen to their bones creak.
Anyway, the course was simply marked out on the snow by a few stakes and around they went. After a couple of laps holes developed big enough to lose a machine in. The solution was to pull up the stakes and start over on some new snow.
On the far right, there isn't anything wrong with his machine. He's just stuck in a big hole on the cross country. He is sitting patiently waiting for the picture to be taken in hopes that the photographer will help him dig it out.
A "cross country" event was always part of the program. The snowmobilers shown at upper left are really the leaders of one class who got stuck in a super snow hole. You can see the rest of the participants behind them waiting for them to get out of the way so they can take their chances with said hole.
Some drivers (lower left) would try and blast through the holes. When this tactic worked they were in great shape. When it didn't work they could smack into a tree head on-- which always led to a lot of tugging, jerking, and swearing.
Race officials were always considerate of the drivers. The top picture of this page shows the racers getting a tour lap so they could get the feel of the course. We suspect this started the majority of the holes.
Naturally three and four foots holes in any race course changes the handling characteristics of a snowmobile very quickly. Sometimes too quickly. (right)
And how many of you remember the year over 100 machines were started at one time on the cross country? They were supposed to round a flag on the corner of the old airport and run the full length of the field before heading into the woods. The theory being the difference in the various sled's speed would have them spread out before getting to the flag. They all got there at the same time and I guarantee you that anyone starting his machine in that event will never forget it.
Anyway, those were the good old days when snow machines were raced on snow.
WHY WRITE A BOOK about the history of snowmobile racing?
When the snowmobile industry was first trying to survive, in the late 1950s and early 1960s, it was impoverished. Snow machines were built by " lunatics."
"Racing" played a major role in the survival of the snowmobile, even in its infancy. The earliest snowmobiles had to out-perform dog sleds in order to gain acceptance. As time evolved, one brand of snowmobile had to beat another brand in more formalized competition.
Racing was a focal point for the "outside world" to get to know the little machines and what they could do. Races attracted newspapers and television stations, as well as curious people who stood in the cold to watch. Racing helped prove the snowmobile was, in fact, a reliable mode of transportation over snow. Racing provided the financially-strapped industry with a way to spread its word better than any other way.
The story of snowmobile racing is more than a history of competition. Warriors OF WINTER is a story about the people, the companies and the circumstances involved in snowmobiling. It doesn't attempt to document who won every major race, but it does attempt to tell never-before-published stiries about the sport. IT attempts to follow the evolution of the snowmobile through competition, and tell you how the sport arrived at the place it occupies today.
WARRIORS OF WINTER is more than 200 pages of part-truths, one-sided versions of what happened and, we're sure, some over-exaggerations. It's full of the humor of snowmobiling, the warmth of that special breed of humanity that thrives on the cold, and it touches on tragedies that are a part of the past and present. You'll find over 150 photographs, many rare and never before published, including dozens from long ago races and featuring old, almost forgotten machines.
Bill Vint's book is the product of five years of accumulating facts and documents, plus five months of intensive research, interviews, photo screening and correspondence with more than 100 individuals. Research, Vint believes, is never complete. It wouldn't be possible, he admitted, to include every story or to talk to everyone involved.
He did, however, find dozens of exciting stories. WARRIORS OF WINTER, he said, answers the following questions and many more:
1) When and where was the first snowmobile race?
2) Who was the first "professional driver" ever thrown out of a race?
3) Was the first Eagle River, Wis. snowmobile derby rigged?
4) How did many of today's great racing stars get started in snowmobiling?
5) Did Bob Eastman really "cheat" in the 1967 Winnipeg-St. Paul race?
6) Why did Mercury really get out of the snowmobile industry?
7) Did any snowmobile racer ever hit a moose and live to tell about it?
8) What does the future hold?
We think it's the most unusual and most revealing book ever written about snowmobile.
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