I’ve ridden and raced snowmobiles since 1967 and I’ve been a snowmobile dealer since 1971. Through the years I’ve been a dealer for Arctic Cat, Ski-Doo, Suzuki, Rupp, Alouette, Chaparral, Polaris and Yamaha.
I first started racing on a weekly basis 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, N.Y. 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, N.Y. I made it to the final with an El Tigre 340 F/A. It was me and 9 Ski-Doos. 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 families. 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 website and noticed there was a new class for 2010, a class for Super Senior 340 F/C F/A, 60 years and older.
Guess what? I had just turned 60 in August. 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 felt racing was a great idea.
However, he did say that if I was going to be competitive we had to get me a Merc 340 Sno-Twister. How well I knew that!
It was only a few weeks before Donnie located a ’75 Twister that had been raced a couple of years ago and looked like just the ticket. I called the owner and struck a deal. 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, Minn. to get it race ready.
I booked airline tickets and a room in Eagle River for my son, Mike, and my old racing friend Jay. If I was finally going to get to Eagle River, Jay was coming too!
Donnie had my sled in the pits at Eagle River when we got there. What service!
I had signed up for practice and my first practice session, I managed to catch a ski in the 4th corner and high-sided the sled. But after 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 at Friday Night Thunder on Derby weekend. I won my heat race on Friday night and came in second on Sunday, so the field was set for the following weekend’s finals.
We had to go back to Buffalo to work at our store that week, but we knew we were going back to Eagle River the following weekend with Yamaha. We miraculously won a contest with Yamaha for being the largest volume snowmobile dealer in the U.S. The top 5 dealers earned a trip to Eagle River to see the races and demo the new 2011 Yamaha Apex 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, only made possible by friends like Donnie who went out of the way to make my dream reality, Jay who kept telling me I could win, and my son and business partner, Mike, who is always at and on my side regardless of what crazy adventure I might think up next.
Bob Weaver owns Bob Weaver Motorsports & Marine Inc. in N. Tonawanda, N.Y. ... Send us Your Bucket List at AmSnow@AmSnow.com