Thursday, 14 December 2017

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"Bucket List"

One off the "Bucket List"

By Bob Weaver

 I’ve ridden and raced snowmobiles since 1967 and I’ve been a snowmobile dealer since 1971.  Over the years I’ve been a dealer for Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo, Suzuki, Rupp, Alouette, Chapparell, Polaris and Yamaha.  When I first started out racing on a weekly basis it was in 1971 when I was an Arctic Cat dealer.  My friend and technician, Jay Kormash, would accompany me all over Western New York to all the local races and to Weedsport NY every Thursday night. 

We had a lot of hot sleds from our 1972 EXT to our 1977 Z.  The best we ever did was at the New York State Championship races in Booneville, NY.  I made it to the final with an Eltigre 340 F/A.  It was me and 9 Ski Doo’s.  At that point the Arctic Cat factory came over and offered me all kinds of assistance.

But in the end it was Ski-Doo 1, 2, 3.  We continued to race right through the ’77 season.  Jay and I finally called it quits for two reasons: one we couldn’t beat those Merc’s and two we were both starting family’s.  All those years and all those miles to race after race we never made it to the “Big One”.  The Eagle River World Championship.  Not for a lack of talking about it though.  We always wanted to go but could never put it together.  Times changed and so did work, families and responsibilities. Fast forward to 2009.  I am still in the snowmobile business as a Polaris and Yamaha Dealer.  One day I looked at the Eagle River web site and noticed they had posted a new class for 2010.  A Super Senior 340 F/C F/A, 60 years old and over.  Well guess what?  I had just turned 60 in August 2009.  So I called my good friend, Donnie Schmidt, who races a Yamaha in the Vintage World Champ class, to ask his opinion.  First Donnie said “you aren’t old enough!”  Then I reminded him of my birthday.  He thought it was a great idea.  He did say if you are going to be competitive we have to get you a Merc 340 Sno-Twister.  How well I knew that!  It was only a few weeks when Donnie called and said he located a ’75 Twister that had been raced a couple of years ago and looked like just the right ticket.  I called Bob Poirer, the owner and struck a deal.  So now Donnie, who lives in Michigan, picked up the sled for me in Minnesota and took it to his friend Darryl Saxton’s shop in Alexandria, Minnesota to get it ready to race.

On my end, I booked air line tickets and found a room in Eagle River for my son, Mike and of course my friend Jay.  If I was finally going to get to Eagle River, you can be sure Jay was coming too!

Donnie picked up my sled from Darryl’s shop and had it waiting for us in the pits at Eagle River.  I had signed up for practice so when I went out for my first practice session, I some how managed to catch a ski in the 4th corner and high sided the sled.  Well now that I got that out of my system, the rest of the practice went pretty well.  After practice I told Jay that I fulfilled my “bucket list” dream of driving on the World famous Eagle River Track.  Jay was quick to say “no, not until you win!”

The Super Senior Class had 16 entries which was narrowed to 10, 5 from each heat of 8 advanced to the Sunday race which would set the grid for the final Friday Night Thunder Derby weekend.  I won my heat race on Friday night and came in second on Sunday which set the stage for the following weekend’s finals.  We had to go back to Buffalo to work at our store but we knew we were going back to Eagle River the following weekend with Yamaha.  You see, we had just won a contest with Yamaha for being the largest volume snowmobile dealer in the U.S.A.  The top 5 dealers earned a trip to Eagle River to see the races and demo the new 2011 Yamaha sleds with power steering.  It couldn’t have worked out better.  The track even called my store to see if I was coming back.  Donnie who grew up just 60 miles from Eagle River went back home to visit his Mother then returned to the track Friday with my sled.

That Friday night a life long dream became reality.  I not only got to drive on the world famous Eagle River track but I WON!  This was a thrill of a lifetime which was only made possible by friends like Donnie Schmidt who clearly went out of his way to make my dream come true, Jay Kormash my friend, confidant, who always kept telling me I could win and my son and business partner, Mike who is always at and on my side regardless of what I might dream up next.

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