ISHOF Inductees - 2010
John Ehlert - Publisher
John began his editorial and publishing career in 1970 when he was hired as managing editor of Snow Sport magazine. He jumped into the job with enthusiasm, his success enhanced by an understanding wife, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a work ethic befitting the oldest of 12 children. He had a great capacity for drink, a memory for jokes, the ability to stay up late and other qualities that served him well in the roaring snowmobile industry. The energy crunch of mid 1970s hit and soon John was out of a job. It was then his entrepreneurial spirit really took hold and soon he was the publisher of his first magazine, Minnesota Snowmobiler. He wrote it, sold the ads, did the layout, the billing and everything else that was needed. He was a true one-man company. By 1980, his magazine titles grew to include Midwest Snowmobiler. He then bought SnoTrack and combined the two into Snowmobile Magazine. Soon his publishing empire expanded into the bow hunting and personal watercraft markets. To this, he also added Snow Goer and Snow Week. For the industry, John then produced Snowmobile Business and, in a effort top entice new riders into the sport, came Invitation to Snowmobiling with special editorial for beginners. On the personal side, John has been mayor of Minnetonka Beach, Minnesota, active in political volunteerism, charities and contributions to St. Mary's University. John sold the business to Affinity Publishing in 1997, leaving a legacy unparalleled in the publishing industry. In addition to the magazines, he pioneered the way snowmobiles were tested with his Rode Reports event. John Ehlert was truly a major player in shaping the industry and publication side of snowmobiling. He has initiated many award programs honoring people who were instrumental in the development and promotion of the sport.
Bob and Judy King - Volunteers
A job transfer for Bob from Iowa to Minnesota in 1974 got them into snowmobiling, a hobby that has consumed much of their leisure time ever since. They joined the Dell's Sno-Rovers Snowmobile Club and were soon very active in planning and producing the club's many events. By 1978, they were highly involved with the Northwest Trails Association (NWT) and the newly formed Minnesota United Snowmobile Association (MnUSA) state association. Organized snowmobile activities soon became their consuming passion. Their involvement with NWT and MnUSA was exciting and fulfilling. By 1980, Bob had taken over the Trail Administer job and held it until 2004. Both Bob and Judy continued to become more involved in organized snowmobiling. They chaired the International Snowmobile Congress in Minnesota in 1989 and then again in 2007. Bob served as President of MnUSA and Judy was President of NWT. They spent five (5) years developing the NWT trail maps and coordinating Landowner Appreciation functions. Their list of awards and honors is extensive. Both were inducted into the Iron Dog Brigade in 1992 and Judy was named one of the "Women of Snow" by American Snowmobiler in 1996. Both were also honored as Snowmobile Magazine's "Midwest Snowmobilers of the Year" in the early 1990s. Their list of offices, chairs and various positions in Minnesota snowmobiling is also impressive. Whenever the need for leadership occurred, the Kings were there to step in and do a masterful job, not just in Minnesota, but also on the regional and national levels. The Kings have been tireless and dedicated leaders in the promotion of safe, family-oriented snowmobiling and are the ideal and consummate representatives of snowmobiling. Their total energy and devotion to snowmobiling reaches from the grass roots club level all the way up to national levels.
Fred Fox - Industry
Fred Fox graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1958 with a degree in Engineering. Fred went to work in the family business manufacturing truck bodies, mini bikes and go karts. He had seen a few of those strange machines called snowmobiles and decided that he could do better. So, in 1960, he built a prototype and spent the winters testing and improving it. Fred soon met up with other innovators and their designs for a machine that would ride over snow. In 1964, after hearing about an event in Eagle River, Wisconsin featuring snowmobiles, Fred entered his Fox Trac. At that time, it was a bunch of friendly snowmobilers enjoying their new toys. He won the "woods" event against entrants which included Allan Hetteen, Roger Skime and Steve Ave and was second in the "lake race" event. Back at work, Fred continued yearly improvements to the Fox Trac brand of snowmobiles. Such improvements included a rolled edge on skis for better steering control, improved sliderail suspensions, all-rubber tracks and increased use of lightweight materials. Painted bright orange, the sleds were highly visible and added to the company's marketing image. Fred brought to market a six (6) gallon fuel can for easier mixing of fuel ratios. He created Sno-Bil, an oil that was more mixable for Winter use and later bought out Union Carbide Company's competing oil line. Not stopping at engineering, Fred created many marketing innovations and promotions. He also bought scores of snowmobile manufacturers parts and sled inventories as they went out of business during the turbulent 1980s. This large inventory of parts soon led to another business that today is the largest snowmobile, motorcycle, ATV and mini-bike aftermarket parts distribution company in the industry; Parts Unlimited. The Company, located in a 500,000 SF, three (3) level warehouse in Janesville, Wisconsin, supplies over 12,000 powersports dealers in the US and over 4,000 dealers in Europe with 20,000 orders a day that ship just 45 minutes after being received. The Company motto, "We support the sport" reflects Fred's continued enthusiasm and commitment.
Ed Skomoroh - Industry
Passion for the sport of snowmobiling came early for Ed. His father owned an Arctic Cat dealership in Dryden, Ontario where Ed started his career in 1967 as a salesman. He would make several trips a year to the Arctic Cat factory, bringing with him numerous ideas to improve the product. Arctic Cat thought enough of this young man to hire him. So, in 1969, he became the Manager of their Rainy River, Ontario operation in charge of clothing and parts distribution. His travels up the corporate ladder took him in 1980 to Winnipeg as Vice President of Sales and Operations where he led the purchase of Arctic Cat distributorships as the company went factory direct. While Arctic Cat went into Chapter 11 receivership in 1982, Ed's reputation for excellence found him on the Polaris payroll as General Manager of their Canadian operation in Winnipeg. By 1985, he was named Vice President of Polaris Global as well as President of Polaris Canada. By 1988, he moved to Minneapolis as Vice President of Sales and Marketing in charge of snowmobiles, watercraft, ATV and parts, garments and accessories. A position he held until retiring in 2000. He remains available in an advisory capacity for the Company. A "motorhead" at heart, Ed also had the trust of the dealers and the passion for the sport of a consumer. He melded this combination into the successful development of many successful marketing and product introductions. Snow Check was copied by all brands as a marketing bonanza. The Indy Lite sled was just one of the many products he developed. He was a true "paper to clay to the snow" designer and developer of new products for Polaris. Passion for the sport best describes Ed's involvement. He still loves to ride all company products and is a true "hands-on" person. He has been inducted into the Polaris Hall of Fame and also the Iron Dog Brigade.
Charles Kurtz, Jr. - Volunteer
Errol, New Hampshire
Much better known as "Charlie," he is a fixture in the development of the New Hampshire snowmobile trail system and state association. Both are alive and well today largely due to the efforts of Charlie and his many years of service to them. Since 1971, snowmobiling has taken hold of his life, be it winter, summer, spring or fall. His progression in organized snowmobiling rose quickly from the local club level, to county positions, to regional and then statewide programs and organizations. He has been involved in numerous decisions on the state level to improve the sport. He has served as the NHSA President, Vice President, County Director, been president of several snowmobile clubs and chaired many committees including the advisory board and the Ride In For Easter Seals. In addition, Charlie has been a delegate from New Hampshire to many International Snowmobile Congresses. Passionate about trail developing and funding, in 1997, needing funds to continue developing trails, Charlie was the co-founder of the New Hampshire Snowmobile Show. Today it is one of the largest snowmobile events in the state. Charlie has shown a true devotion to the sport through 40 years of service. His induction into the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame adds just one more recognition for his dedication to the sport and the state of New Hampshire.
ISHOF Snowmobile Club of the Year 2010
Sno-Barons Snowmobile Club
No other snowmobile club has demonstrated the dedication to the sport and the snowmobile community as the Sno-Barons. Not only have they created perhaps the biggest snowmobile event in the country, they have given back to countless snowmobile and charity groups from the proceeds of this event. Founded in 1966, the club's first grass drag race was the following year. They have continued to move the event to higher levels each year since, moving the event four times to bigger and better facilities. The name "Hay Days" came from the first race when alfalfa was used to build the track. And the name stuck. But there is more to the Sno-Barons and their Haydays event than the races and the swap meet. Money generated is used to fund a wide variety of things. Sno-Barons Grant Program offers financial assistance to other clubs for trail development and maintenance. Additionally, the club provides scholarships and donations to several charities such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Sheriff's Boys Ranch and the Food Shelf. In 2010, Sno-Barons moved to a new facility owned by the club. The Club continues to mark the beginning of a new snowmobile season each year with their "Haydays" spectacular which has thousands of snowmobilers attending throughout the weekend event. For more information on Sno-Barons Snowmobile Club and its Haydays events, visit www.haydays.com.