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The Vintage Snowmobile Craze

Published online: Jan 06, 2006 Feature
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On a beautiful Saturday afternoon back in January 2002 a bunch of folks were gathered at the annual snocross races in Stanley, ID. The weather was crisp and clear as the spectators were watching in amazement as the new Ski Doo Rev snocross sled made its presence known to the industry. Modern snowmobile technology was making a very lasting impression on all in attendance.

Over by the hot dog stand sat a little 1970 Arctic Cat Puma recently restored for a couple of local kids to begin their snowmobiling experience. It was a very nice little sled which was drawing attention from all who noticed it sitting quietly in the shadows of the race. As spectators gathered to enjoy refreshments, the chatter began. Comments such as, "I used to have that exact sled," and "It's no wonder my chiropractor is retired," surfaced in harmony as the day progressed. The little Puma was by sheer coincidence spawning a new vision that would promote a new snowmobiling interest in Idaho.

It was at this event, in the early days of 2002, that Vintage Snowmobiles of Idaho was born. A few members of the Salmon River Snowmobile Club noticed the interest in the little Puma and thought they should look into an organization which would preserve and promote snowmobiling history in the West. Without hesitation, Dan Hammerbeck and Perry Hesteness took to the task of investigating vintage snowmobiles in Idaho and little did they know of where this endeavor would lead.

It didn't take long to realize that the vintage phenomenon, which had been underway for years in the East and Midwest, was well established out West. Clubs had been formed in Oregon and Washington around the new millennium and more organizations were developing across the region. It was obvious the vintage bug was on the loose west of the Pecos.


Around A Long Time

Vintage snowmobile organizations have been in existence throughout the United States, Canada and Europe for quite some time. The Midwest and eastern regions of the United States are, by all standards, the forerunners in organizations preserving and promoting snowmobiling history. The Snowmobile Hall of Fame and Museum is located in Eagle River, WI, which to this day still holds the World Championship Snowmobile Derby every January since 1964. The world championship races have in recent years taken on a new dimension as they now have both Modern and Vintage World Championship races on the famed Eagle River Oval. Countless other organizations exist throughout the United States with publications and internet connections assisting interested snowmobiliers to easily find events in their region.

The Vintage Snowmobile Club of America is often thought to be the foremost publication in vintage snowmobiling today. They produce a quality magazine published quarterly and also have a fabulous website assisting vintage snowmobile enthusiasts in a  real time manner. Visit www.vsca.com for more information. Other great websites include, but are not limited to, the New Hampshire Museum (www.nhsnowmobilemuseum.com), Vintage Snowmobiles.com, plus countess others. The internet has obviously connected vintage enthusiasts throughout the world and allows collectors and restorers the opportunity to find parts and accessories to complete vintage projects with an efficiency only dreamed about back when these sleds where king.

Western vintage snowmobile clubs such as the Pacific Northwest Vintage Snowmobile Club and Inland Pacific Vintage Snowmobile Club are the forefathers of the western vintage organizations. One of these club's biggest purposes is allowing vintage snowmobile enthusiasts of all ages an opportunity to relive snowmobiling history. As newer clubs have developed in the West, a comaraderie of sorts has arisen and provided a cohesive entity which allows all the western clubs to contribute to events throughout the region.

Over the course of each year many events are hosted by western vintage snowmobile clubs. Summer gatherings are held in all the western states with the fall Idaho Snowmobile Show, sponsored by SnoWest Magazine, kicking off the winter season. Vintage and modern snowmobile shows of all calibers begin to appear across the upper Northwest as the fall and soon approaching winter make their presence known. Fun rides and vintage shows abound throughout the winter as the western mountain region provides vintage enthusiasts a vast array of terrain to assemble gatherings. From Diamond Lake to Mt. St. Helens, across Idaho and over the Tetons, you can find vintage snowmobile rides that will take your breath away.


Finishing The Season In West Yellowstone

The winter western vintage season is culminated in March with a formal gathering of all western vintage snowmobile clubs in West Yellowstone. This event is held in conjunction with the World Snowmobile Expo, which offers numerous other snowmobile events ranging from professional snocross races, professional snowmobile drag racing, to demonstrations of new product lines from all snowmobile manufacturers. It doesn't get more vintage than Yellowstone.

Vintage snowmobiles come in all shapes and sizes. At one point in the early 1970s, there were more than 100 manufacturers of snowmobiles. Generally speaking, most organizations define their sleds in two categories-vintage and antique. Antique sleds are often, but not always, referred to as sleds manufactured before 1970. Vintage sled are often classified as sleds from 1970 thru 1980. Each organization has its own specific guidelines so if you are investigating vintage snowmobiling in your area it would be advisable to get more definitive specifications from the local club.

Shows and swap meets seem to be appearing each and every weekend across the country as the vintage phenomenon sweeps the United States. A host of websites allow vintage enthusiasts to exchange information about upcoming events.

If a vintage event is assembling in your area, take a minute to stop in and support the clubs dedicated to preserving the history of snowmobiling for years to come. But be careful, the vintage bug might bite and there in no known cure.

For more information on Vintage Snowmobiles of Idaho, contact Perry Hesteness (208) 309-1750. Or you can log on to www.idahosnobiz.com and navigate to the clubs section and find the Idaho club. 


Vintage/Antique Snowmobile Contacts

Pacific Northwest Vintage Snowmobile Club

www.pnwvsc.com

Vintage Snowmobiles of the Inland Northwest Club www.vsotinw.50megs.com

Vintage Snowmobile Club of America www.vsca.com

Antique Snowmobile Club of America www.ascoa.org