I find the most interesting people by chance, just like last weekend at the Goodridge-Grygla 500 snowmobile race.
Rob Crowe from Salol was there. Crowe was there because of his interest in snowmobiles, which he’s always had. He’s always liked mechanical things, has done a little stock-car racing and is an admitted motorhead.
Crowe moved to the area in 2007 and, as part of his job as columnist, visited Polaris plant and found himself enthralled with the history of Polaris-as told by Janet Hetteen.
Polaris co- founder David Johnson was still in the area so Crowe did an interview with him and created a caricature of Johnson riding a snowmobile created in Rob Crowe’s imagination. There were lots of different parts representing Polaris through the years. It even featured a Victory motorcycle engine.
Crowe wanted to build a snowmobile for a show in Badger. He was working at the Polaris plant at the time and spoke with the engineering division about assembling the needed parts. Darrel Foss from Polaris took an interest and helped Crowe get parts such as chassis and a roll cage. They even somehow located a Victory engine from the dyno testing division. David Johnson allowed Crowe to use his shop and that’s where they assembled the snowmobile from that caricature.
I saw the sled in Goodridge on Saturday and was absolutely enamored. It looked like something I had always want to build myself. Old school design with a modern engine, drive and technology.
The snowmobile features a 106 cubic inch diameter Victory engine. The undercarriage is from a wide track Polaris with the 155 inch track and a roll cage from a 2008 Polaris RZR. Crowe did a fair amount of fabrication as he extended out the front by 1 foot. He then took measurements from the 1965 Polaris Mountaineer owned by David Johnson to fabricate for his own creation. The engine has a transmission however the drive and jack shaft is all custom. The gear reduction was a guess; however it was a good guess.
I asked Crowe where he’s taken the sled. He’s had it out on his acreage but is careful because it’s a little top-heavy. He’s had it to 55 miles per hour and it will “lift the skis anytime you want”-so he’s not THAT careful. Crowe said the machine runs and makes noise, which seemed good enough to him.
I admire the creators; they dream and build. A lot of people dream. There are a few people who build. There’s not a lot of us who dream and build. The creators are exceptional people and lots of us would like to be like them however that takes a lot of work-and a lot of vision. When you see his snowmobile creation, you know Rob Crowe has both qualities.