In January of 1999, I was working a lot of hours per week. Too many, probably.
I knew my brother had restored some snowmobiles, but I had never seen them. I wanted to, but his house was seven hours away, and I could not find the time.
On Friday he gave me a call and told me he was bringing the machines to a vintage snowmobile show in Waconia, Minnesota. That was just a few miles from my house. He asked if I wanted to come see them. I said yes, looked at my schedule and said it was impossible.
Too much to do.
He called back a few hours later with a different idea: Come to the show and take a little time off, or he would beat me silly. Of course, he was kidding, but not that much. Besides, he said, dad and my uber fun nephew Brandon were coming, so I decided to take that Sunday off and head over.
He had two machines, a 1972 Polaris 500cc ATX, and a 1972 800cc Polaris Starfire. Both were beyond gorgeous. They were much better than new. I had a great day looking at all the restored machines, and the memories of the days of driving those old sleds all winter came flooding back. I had a lot of fun back then.
The awards were held, and as I recall, Jim won in both his classes. As he was loading up, he started the 800cc Starfire and drove it around. I was standing next to my dad, and told him I thought it looked like a lot of fun.
“Well, that’s his baby. There is no chance he will let you ride it.” Dad said.
As he finished that sentence, Jim pulled along side me with the incredibly loud, cackling machine and asked “Want to take it for a spin?”
I got on, gave the throttle a squeeze and all three cylinders kicked in and darn near threw me off the back. I drove it up and down the field a couple times, and although the noise of the thing made it feel like I was going 95 MPH, I likely didn’t crack 40 MPH.
When I finally got off, I could not get the grin off my face. For days I just walked around with that silly smile had some trouble concentrating.
A few days later, I dug out and old box from my closet that had some old race photos in it. I posted them on my little blog (this was before the word “blog” was a thing) and I got a near immediate, positive reaction. Over the next few months, I added a lot more photos and some old stories.
Out of sheer curiosity, I started digging around for some of the old Polaris race sleds and started to hit pay dirt. I found a new hobby in hunting down the old sleds.. and the best part.. the history behind them.
It was all so much fun that on January 24, 2001, I registered the domain vintagesleds.com, and that little website took off like a rocket. It took me to the west coast, the east coast, into Canada, Sweden and all over the midwest. I met thousands and thousands of great people from all walks of life show shared my bizarre interest in the hobby. There was so many experiences around that website and the hobby, that I will have to document them at length as time goes on.
And to think it was all because of that little ride on Doc’s 1972 Starfire. For me, it was proof that you just never know what seemingly small experiences can change your life.
This post is all part of my Memorabilia Project.