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AmSnow readers share their stories about the people that got them into the sport
In the January 2016 issue of American Snowmobiler, editor Mark Boncher wrote in his column ("Who Got You," p. 4) how he was introduced to the sport of snowmobiling at the young age of three. He also invited AmSnow readers to submit their own stories about who got them into snowmobiling. The reader who submitted the best story as Zach Seder from Saginaw, Mich., and he received an AmSnow prize pack! Here is his story, along with some of our other favorite submissions:
WINNER: Off to the Races
Snowmobiling has a long history in our family. My Dad got the bug at age 12 when his father bought a 1968 Ski-Doo Olympic. Mom and Dad actually met while snowmobiling in 1986 at Tip Up Town in Houghton Lake, Mich., and ended up getting married. Me? I got the bug a little earlier in life.

In our hometown of Saginaw, Mich., in 1997, our local snowmobile dealer had a fundraiser event for Brian Musselman. Brian was a Soo I-500 winner and Vice President of Woody’s, injured in a snowmobile accident just outside of West Yellowstone. This fundraiser event gave kids the opportunity to race Kitty Cats and similar sleds around a small track behind the Saginaw Polaris dealership.

I was only two and a half years old, but Mom and Dad entered me and my sister Danielle to race in the first annual event. Danielle had a 1995 Kitty Cat she got for Christmas from one of my dad’s best friends, who we always called Uncle Craig. The race entry ages were actually 4-10, but since I only knew one speed (wide open) Dad thought I was ready. I was entered in the 4-year-old category. Danielle had a couple years under her belt by now, so she was a seasoned rider. I had been riding in our backyard for a whole two weeks (as I’m told), running into just about everything that didn’t move. On race day, Danielle made the finals in the 7-year-old age group, so the old Kitty Cat was FAST that day. I won one of the races and made the finals, finishing second overall for the 4-year-old age class (see photos). Dad would stand at the start/finish line and either hit the kill button or knock my hand off the throttle at the end of each race to get me to stop. At the end of the race I won, Dad actually missed my hand and the kill button, and one of the race officials had to chase me down. I thought I was still racing.

In the summers, the wheel kit went on the Kitty cat and the hood came off to keep it from overheating. I rode the Kitty Cat and Danielle rode the tractor around our own little track by the barn. In the winters, we rode almost every weekend around Higgins Lake and Grayling.

In 2002, when I was 7, Mom and Dad bought me my very own 1999 Polaris Indy 340 (no more riding the 2-up with Mom). Danielle, now age 12, was riding a 2000 Polaris 500 XC, so Dad sold the old 1980 Enticer and Kitty Cat. We were now a four-sled family.

Today, Danielle and I both attend universities in Indiana, but every chance I get, I head back to Michigan to ride with my friends and family.”

– Zach Seder, Michigan
“My Dad got me hooked on sleds when he bought me and my and brothers an Arlberg sled in 1969. We wrecked it within about 30 days, so he bought us a new Ski-Doo 399cc Nordic with electric start, which we loved and didn't wreck!” – Cliff Randall, Ontario
Born on a Sled
“My father, Harold Haugan, sold the first snowmobiles in Meagher County, Montana, in the late '50s. I don't remember the brand now, but we sold Arctic Cats in the late '60s and moved on to Ski-Doo in '69 up thru '76. He was a charter member of the Little Belters Club and helped to forge what is now almost 300 miles of groomed trails in that same county. I was basically born on a sled, and I have my Father to thank for what is still my greatest passion! My children and my niece’s children are all involved in the sport as well. When we are all together, I crank up my father’s 1977 440 Everest, and we all take turns enjoying the ride!” – David Haugan, Montana
A Lifelong Passion
Massey Ferguson got me!  I am 57 years young, and I have been married for 25 years.  Snowmobiling has been an important part of my life and my wife’s.  My Father was a Massey Ferguson Lawn & Garden Dealer in the late 60's and snowmobiles were a new and upcoming product that came with the garden tractor dealership.  The Massey Ferguson branch manager in Columbus, Ohio got the Columbus area dealers together for a ride in Grayling, Michigan in 1969.  My brother and I wanted to go on the trip, being age 11 and 10, my Dad chuckled and said, “If you 2 boys can get the MF 380 started by yourselves then you can go on the trip with us.”  My Dad knowing the MF 380 was the hardest thing to start when it was cold, so he wrote us off as not going.

Well my brother and I figured out a way to start the single cylinder 380JLOE, steel starter cable thumper.  A light shot of ether and both of us on the starter cable we got the 380 thumper started.  So, off to Michigan we go.  We rode 2-up for that long weekend in Grayling and had the best time of our lives.  This got us hooked on snowmobiling when snowmobiling was a luxury sport.  In 1972, my brother and I bought two new 500 SST Masseys for $680.00 a piece with the money we earned from setting up around 200 garden tractors.  We rode them with the Columbus Dealers to Grayling, Mich., every chance we could.  Back then, 60 miles in a day was a good day.  My brother and I rode the 500 SST’s during the blizzard of 1978 in Powell, Ohio, for the police and fire rescues.

In the summer of 1978, we sold the 500 SST’s for $780.00 each, which was $100.00 more than we paid for them new. We both bought new 1979 440cc Arctic Cat Panthers. The Panthers were the latest and greatest 2-up snow machines. The Cats were the most dependable sled, but Arctic Cat temporarily went out of business, and in 1986, I sold my Panther and bought a Yamaha Phazer Deluxe.  My brother kept his Panther and restored it in the late 80s, and it was the first sled his son rode in the late 90s.

I went through the Phazer years from 1984-1995.  I married in 1990, and my wife Becky would ride 2-up on the Phazer when I could get her to go with me.  In 1995, we purchased an Arctic Cat Pantera 580.  The Pantera riding 2-up would beat my souped-up Phazer flat out, so I sold the Phazer to my best friend and the wife and I rode 2-up for the next few years. Then in 2000, she bought me a new Arctic Cat ZL580 with illusion hood for our 10-year anniversary. What a woman! Fast forward to 2015, and Becky is riding a TZ1 Arctic Cat and I am riding a 2008 Sno Pro with 10,000 miles on it. After 40-plus years of snowmobiling, I am still hooked on the white cold stuff.

The Massey Ferguson 380 started my fever for snowmobiling and the dealers, manufactures, engineers, innovators and suppliers continue to feed my passion with the latest and greatest.  THANKS and keep making tracks in the snow!

– Dale “The Snowjunky” Huffman, Ohio

This photo was submitted by Jared Siple, who says his dad got him a Kitty Cat for Christmas when he was two years old, and they’re still riding to this day.

That First Drive
“My dad got me. I still remember all the snow in Massachusetts in the late 60s and in the 70s. That old Mercury and the Ski-Doo 775 are still quite clear in my memories. I spent lots of time between my dad and the steering post. I remember being paranoid of getting sucked into the 775. Next came the Ski-Doo TNT 340, and that was the first one I drove. That first drive is still quite vivid in my memory. After starting it (with ether) my dad motioned to my normal spot but for some reason that day, I took it as an invitation to drive it. Off I went, and 20 minutes later, after returning from the nearby alfalfa and corn fields, I immediately noticed his crossed arms and stern look, followed in short order by an understanding smile. There was no holding me back after that.” – Garry Melia, Massachusetts

Thanks to all who submitted their stories of snowmobiling introduction. Who got you into snowmobiling? Leave your response in the comment section below!
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