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Vintage 'sleds' roll into Boardman

Oldest sled award went to Charles Rice with a 1965 Bolens Hus-ski. His wife Jenny, seated with him, earned the prize for traveling the farthest. They are from Anoka, Minn. The sled with all three parts is 14 feet long. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Margaret A. Ontl)1 / 6
Larry Ahlers, Hudson, restored both of these sleds. The one on the right, a 1970 Moto-Ski, was purchased in 1971 by his mom Bonnie Ahlers. It has been in the family ever since. The one on the left is a 1970 ski-doo TNT. (Hudson Star-Observer Photo by Margaret A. Ontl)2 / 6
The Best in Show was this 1969 Polaris Colt, right, owned by Tom Cody. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Margaret A. Ontl)3 / 6
This is a contemporary Arctic Cat SnoPro machine. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Margaret A. Ontl)4 / 6
Larry Ahlers restored his mom’s sled after it sat for years in the yard. Originally built for racing by Moto-Ski, it features megaphone exhaust pipes, two carburetors, on a 56 horsepower, 760 CC engine. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Margaret A. Ontl)5 / 6
This two-seater, 1978 ski-doo Elite was one of the first to arrive at Saturday’s show. (Hudson Star-Observer photo by Margaret A. Ontl)6 / 6

It is a big sport, but it doesn’t get a lot of attention unless you happen to participate. It is the collecting, restoring and racing of vintage snowmobiles. To be considered vintage normally the sleds should be built before 1985. Last weekend there were dozens of events dedicated to vintage sleds, throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota including one locally.

Saturday, the Boardman Drift Busters Snowmobile Club hosted their 4th annual Vintage Snowmobile Show and Ride at Meister’s Bar and Grill.

This year 25 sleds entered. Last year it drew nearly 50 sleds. Sara Basel, a spokesperson for the club, thought the overnight snow might have cut down the entries.

Some rode their vintage machines to Boardman. Others trailered their gems from as far away Anoka, Minn.

Larry Ahlers of Hudson trailered two sleds over. One of them has been in his family since 1971. The bright orange 1970 Moto-Ski racing edition was purchased in 1971 by his mother Bonnie Ahlers.

“She got it so she could go riding with her friends,” said Ahlers. “It has been in the family ever since. Basically it sat in the back yard for 35 years until I decided to restore it.” The labor of “love” took Ahlers two years to complete. The immaculate restoration required a search for original parts and a lot of patience.

“Mom raised five us by herself so having this sled was a big deal to her,” said Ahlers. “She couldn’t believe it when I showed her the completed project.” The Moto-Ski was built for racing with special megaphone exhaust pipes, two carburetors and a larger than normal 56 horsepower engine.

Ten years ago, Ahlers started racing the vintage sleds throughout Wisconsin and Minnesota. He is not alone. Vintage racing is a sport all its own with several websites dedicated to it.

Scott Erickson, his son Cody and wife Julie brought over their vintage sled, a 1973 Arctic Cat Partner.

“When I bought it, it has less than 100 miles on it,” said Erickson, owner of the Bass Lake Cheese Factory. “We have had it for 30 years, since before Cody was born.”

Erickson admits he likes the old sleds.

“You can move them around (not as heavy as the new ones) and I like the sleek lines,” said Erickson. “Back then, there were probably 30 or 40 different makes.”

Models at the show included Polaris, Ski-doo, Yamaha, John Deere, Bolens Hus-ski, Arctic Cat, Moto-Ski and Evinrude.

One of the highlights of the show was a sled that earned two honors. The 1965 Bolens Hus-ski was the oldest, and the owners Charlie and Jenny Rice traveled the farthest from Anoka, Minn.

The bright yellow three piece sled could have won the most unique category, if one had been offered.

“My dad’s brother, Uncle Bud bought for deer hunting,” said Charlie Rice. “I restored it 10 years ago.”

The Canadian made machine was designed with logging in mind and in Canada they had to be yellow in color, according the Rice. It is made up of three parts, the power, the sled and a trailer. In the United States a later red model was called the Bolens Diablo Rouge.

Saturday the weather was perfect for the event. After judging, both vintage and contemporary sleds were out on the trails.

Winners included the following: Oldest sled was Charles Rice with a 1965 Bolen Hus-ski; Best in Show was Tom Cody 1969 Polaris Colt; Ugliest was Jim Conners with a 1970 Evinrude Skeeter and Traveled most miles Jenny Rice from Andover, Minn.

The Boardman Drift Busters Snowmobile Club also hosts a fish fry at Meister's Bar and Grill in Boardman on the first Friday of lent.

“We donate to the local shelter, food shelf, wishes and more and special Olympics,” said Basel. “We maintain 30 miles of trail as well.” The club started around 1970 by a few couples from the area.