This week at Arctic Cat in Thief River Falls, Minn., Gary “Duke” Johnson logged his last miles aboard a snowmobile (or ATV) as field test rider for Arctic Cat, a job he’s had since 1979. At the tender age of 64, the Thief River Falls native is riding off into the proverbial sunset called retirement, having ridden more than 1 million miles aboard snowmobiles during his career in the company's Field Test department.
Let that sink in for a moment. One. Million. Miles.
Yes, Duke has had a job that most of us would dream for: getting paid to ride snowmobiles.
I chatted with Duke this week about his career with Arctic Cat.
Click to read what it was like to become a million mile man.
During its dealer presentation yesterday, Textron Off Road announced a coming-this-fall side-by-side aimed directly at the Sport-Utility segment of the SxS market.
They didn't tell us the name, but they gave some pretty compelling spec's:
More than 100 hp, KING shocks, bucket seats, extended cab, usuable storage, and available in fall 2017.
They also announced that the Wildcat XX won't be available until spring 2018.
Click for a few more pix.
At a special event held in an airplane hanger in Dallas-Ft. Worth yesterday, Textron Off Road shared with its dealers some plans for incorporating Arctic Cat into its family of vehicles. I was there, and I can tell you it was a powerful and good presentation. One of the key messages was that, going forward, the Arctic Cat name will be substituted with Textron when it comes to wheeled vehicles, while sub-brands like Wildcat, Prowler, Alterra and Stampede will be retained.
Arctic Cat snowmobiles will forever retain the name.
("There are some things that are sacred, and the Arctic Cat snowmobile name is one of them," Collins said to me.)
I have a lot more to say about this, including a soon-to-come interview with company Vice President John Collins in which he answers the questions that so many are asking.
In the meantime, if you have an hour to spare, I recommend watching the presentation. There's a lot of business/dealer talk, but there are also great things for everyone to hear.
If you’re like me, then you want to show Tucker Hibbert the fastest way around the track. You know, show him who’s the boss (and I don’t mean Ross).
And if you’re like me, you know there’s no possible means of doing this on snowmobiles. But there is a slight chance of beating him to the checkered flag on go-karts, and that opportunity is Saturday, April 29 at the MB2 Raceway indoor go-kart race track in Fridley, Minnesota.
There, beginning at Noon, the first Hunter Houle Memorial Foundation fundraiser will unfold with kids, adult-kids and delusional adult-kids who will rip around a sweet track while enjoying the friendship and fellowship of like-minded goofballs.
Click to read about it.
Three days ago, Lakewood Schools student Jared Stevens saw an outpouring from family, friends, teachers and classmates.
The junior in the Marshall, Minn., area battled pinoblastoma, a brain cancer, with treatments occurring last summer at the Mayo Clinic. There, Make-A-Wish volunteers met him and learned his deepest wish.
His answer: a new snowmobile. Arctic Cat, along with Country Cat, Tucker Hibbert, Arcticwear, Fly Racing, the Make-A-Wish foundation and others, partnered to make Jared’s wish come true in the form of a ZR 6000 and all the gear he needs to ride.
Jared is free of cancer as of his last check-up. I’m wishing for happy trails ahead for Jared and his family.
Playing catch-up with the Jackson Hole World Championship Hillclimb and Lake Geneva ISOC snocross race results from a few weeks ago.
Team Arctic racers produced excellent results at both, taking their fair share of checkered flags and podiums. And yep, as the video shows, Jackson was GNARLY this year with hardpacked, icy conditions!
Click to read the highlights and to see the podium finishers who raced Cat.
Speedwerx has gone full-tilt into the custom, limited-edition Arctic Cat zone for 2018, producing four turn-key rippers that combine holy-crap! horsepower (on pump gas), dialed-in clutching, key upgrades, sweet wraps and a traction equation that can put that power to the ground.
The models: 2018 Arctic Cat Thundercat, ZR 8000 Limited, and two version of the M 8000 Mountain Cat.
They’ll produce a maximum of five of each version, with orders (and a $1,000 deposit) required by April 15.
Click to see the checklist of custom goodness for each model.
I'm thankful for snowmobilers who dominate the terrain, no matter what the conditions are.
I'm thankful for the farmers who allow snowmobile trails to cross their fields.
I'm thankful for C.J. Ramstad (left), the original Mud Dog (and many other things).
And I'm thankful it's Friday, April 7, 2017.
I don't typically write about sale prices, but Arctic Cat's just-announced "No Brainer" sales event offers pretty unbelievable pricing on new non-current ATV and side-by-sides. Truly, price just became a non-issue for anyone who had seriously been in the market for wheelers.
2015 HDX 700 XT EPS is now $9,999 U.S., which is -$4,000 off MSRP.
2015 Wildcat Trail is now just $7,499 U.S., a $4,400 savings.
2015 Wildcat X price has been chopped by $5,800 bucks to $12,999 U.S.
And the 2015 XR 550 Limited EPS ATV is now a mere $5,699 U.S., $4,700 lower than MSRP.
Click HERE for a jump to Arctic Cat's website to see ALL the truly outstanding prices/details on non-current and new machines.
These classic Arctic Cat films about the first season of Sno Pro oval racing are as great now as they were back in the day. Video quality not great, but the content is stellar.
Coltom, Lofton, Thompson...legends.
After about 45 years of snowmobiling,
I’m over it. Done. Outta here.
Sorry, but that’s where it’s come to after the pure misery of the past four months.
Click to read how I arrived at this sorry state.
Just how far has snowmobie hillclimbing progressed in the past three-plus decades? Take a look at this gem from Kirkland Lake (Ontario) circa 1983.
Man, what a difference suspension makes on a snowmobile. Oh, and track design. And....
Textron has begun to incorporate Arctic Cat into its brand, as evidenced by this well-done video about the newly-named Textron Off Road division in which Cat now resides.
There's a lot more to come on this, I'm sure. Enjoy the video.
Last February, Jeff and Bruce Schroeder had an Arctic Cat-themed family reunion near Tomah, Wis., for their 10 siblings and their families.
One the day of the reunion, the family reprised the classic Johansson Family Reunion advertisement/postcard that Arctic Cat created for the 1987 model season.
If you ask me, I’d say they nailed it perfectly!
Click to read Jeff Schroeder’s REALLY cool version of the story.
Arctic Cat held its 2018 snowmobile dealer in the Twin Cities a couple weeks ago. Here's an inside look at what the dealer saw, and what many of them thought of the machines (including the Wildcat XX).
It even has some thoughtful words from the legend, Roger Skime.
Definitely worth checking out (other than the terrible microphone stand that was utilized).
The 2017 ISOC National snocross season concluded last weekend in Lake Geneva, Wis., where Team Monster/Arctic Cat's Tucker Hibbert had another mixed bag of results.
In his words: “Winning the final Saturday night was awesome and I feel like I rode really well. With a crash Friday night and a third Sunday, I’m a little disappointed. I feel like my speed didn’t match my results.”
“It feels good to have won the most races. I felt really strong most of the season. I had some low points but, overall, it was a pretty successful year. It’s awesome to finish the season healthy and strong.”
When you're used to winning everything, a 1st, 3rd and 10th must seem ho-hum.
Regardless, check out the vid!
The University of Minnesota-Duluth team finished third (with their Arctic Cat ZR 3000) in the recent SAE International Clean Snowmobile Challenge competition in Houghton, Mich. Plus they took home additional prestigious awards.
The team was featured HERE on ArcticInsider last year. They're a great group of passionate, smart people who seem destined to do cool and innovative things.
I love seeing a great sled restoration, especially one that adds a twist of customization to the final outcome.
Mike Miller's Patriot edition 2004 Arctic Cat F6 Firecat is a perfect example of a ground-up resurrection, as the resto magician from Michigan illustrates in the above video.
This isn't the first Arctic Cat that Miller has brought back to life. A few years ago I featured this stunning Crossfire restoration. Clearly, Miller's handiwork is as thorough as it is stunning.
Check out the video, then see where your imagination (and Craigslist scouring) might lead.
See what's new and savory about the 2018 line of Arctic Cat ZR trail/ditch rippers.
Watch, learn and enjoy the 2018 Arctic Cat M Series Tech goodness (er, greatness).