ELEPHANT LAKE – Terry Smith came prepared. Last year’s warm weather during Melgeorge’s Antique and Classic Snowmobile Race left standing water on the ice and the slushy snow proved to be a challenge for snowmobilers.
Smith’s solution was to combine an Arctic Cat snowmobile and 14-foot boat to produce what he proudly dubbed his “snowmoboat.”
“After all the water that was up here last year, we thought we better bring the boat,” the Mora snowmobiling enthusiast explained. “My brother and I built this two weeks ago.”
Located in the center of the boat, the snowmobile track and skis penetrate the bottom of the boat, so it can travel over the snow. An outboard motor attached to the boat’s stern powers the craft over open water.
“We even brought oars just in case the boat motor quit,” Smith added with a grin.
Smith said the boat he used already had a broken keel, so he decided he might as well cut it apart and make something of it.
The unusual combination drew plenty of stares and earned the People’s Choice Award at the annual snowmobile races.
Even so, Smith had competition for the most bizarre snowmobile at Saturday’s races.
Wayne Schlauderoff, of Detroit Lakes, yoked two 1970 Arctic Cat Pumas together to form a single snowmobile that could be driven solo or by a pair of drivers.
“It’s just for shows,” said Schlauderoff, who said the duo-snowmobiles are too wide to take down any trails.
In addition, Schlauderoff converted an old Ski-Doo into a “Minion-mobile,” based on the popular animated film characters.
“That one was my wife’s idea,” said Schlauderoff.
His creations took home a pair of prizes. The double-Arctic Cat won Beast of the Show while his “Minion-mobile,” equipped with a denim-covered seat, took second place in the best-dressed category. First place in that division went to Jack Carlson, who had donned a vintage snowmobile suit for the races.
Even the more conventional snowmobiles featured distinctive colors and designs not associated with today’s machines.
Tom Deer, of Elko, brought his 1966 Sno Clipper to the show. The orange-colored snowmobile, which was manufactured by Sears and Roebuck, was purchased by his grandparents. Sears and Roebuck used the same assembly line to build dog sleds as it did the snowmobile, according to Deer. “They just cut off the end where the musher would stand,” he added pointing to the machine’s chassis.
“It’s all original and never been altered,” said Deer. “And it runs like a million bucks. It’s just a sweetheart. I call it Pumpkin.”
Deer said he has about 40 different sleds. He’d never attended Melgeorge’s event until this year. He heard about the event while attending the Hyper-Viper races at Crane Lake last week.
Although Deer was new to Melgeorge’s, Dick Smith has been coming to the event on an annual basis. “I don’t think I’ve made all 30 races, but I’ve come pretty close,” said Smith.
He brought his 1970 Arctic Cat Panther to the show. He purchased the snowmobile in 1972 and it’s been a favorite of his since then. “I always liked Arctic Cats,” he said. And although today’s machines may have more bells and whistles — such as built-in hand warmers and more powerful engines — Smith said he still enjoys taking his machine out on the snow. “It always got me there and back.”
A 1964 Fox Trac, purchased by Curt Maki of Aurora in Minneapolis about 10 years ago, was another page out of snowmobiling’s past.
Maki said the snowmobile still has all of its original parts. “It’s just fun riding around on these old machines,” he said.
Joel Bremer, of Pine City, shares Maki’s love of snowmobiling history.
“The old machines are just fun to work on and play with,” said Bremer, who brought his friend’s 1967 Polaris Colt to Melgeorge’s races. Bremer said Saturday was the sixth or seventh time he had come to the races at Melgeorge’s. He hopes to bring his 1972 Snow Prince to a future show, he added. “It’s getting worked on and it’s not ready yet.”