Fabrication was more involved than we had thought, and this always seems to happen as we run into small design details that have to be solved all over again.
Recreating the Aero sled answered some frequently asked questions, like how much weight did the rear wing and side panel add. The answer is 10 lbs. for the wing and 5 lbs. for the side panel. On the other hand the hood was 5 lbs. lighter leaving a weight penalty of 10 lbs. Yet Tim gained several hundred pounds of downforce to aid the sled’s handling.
Unfortunately the sled remake project dragged on a little longer than planned and it was a very anxious Brad that took the sled with him to finish painting, decaling and construction of the aerodynamically shaped seat with only two weeks to go before the Hall of Fame Roundup last May.
With the paint barely dry he showed up on Friday night of the Memorial Day weekend with an absolutely stunning finish, and the sled drew a lot of attention as one of the show’s main attractions. A lot of people who had seen the original Aero sled in action shared their memories. One recalled Tim going wide open and passing sleds through the turns at Wausau to the roar of an excited crowd. Tim’s original matching race leathers were donated to the cause by Brad’s friend John Bertolino, who has a large collection of Tim’s race sleds and the leathers are now being restored to original condition.
Perhaps the most satisfying encounter was when one of the old Ski-Doo race team members came over and divulged that the Aero sled had caused a lot of concern at the Ski-Doo factory, and as a result they had increased the engine development program to try and beat it with sheer power.
Tim kept racing with us for many years. We dropped out of Formula One when the twin tracks took over and concentrated on the Formula Three program where Tim ended up winning four straight Eagle River World Championships on Yamahas. He is now back with Polaris, running the Hentgess Racing Team and tuning T.J. Gulla and Tim’s son Bret Bender’s sleds for the ISOC Snocross Pro circuit.
The Aero sled replica is now displayed in the main showroom at the Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain, Wis., where it can be studied in detail by interested and aspiring racers and builders.
Read more online about the Aero sled. Check out Olav’s feature on sled aerodynamics in the November 2008 issue