snowmobile doctor mn north shore snowmobile
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The Snowmobile Doctor

Jerry's First Sled
Jerry was working at his folks gas station, LakeView Service in Tofte [where the Coho Café is now located]
when he saw his first snowmobile. He kept looking at the machine up on the trailer while he filled the truck with gas. When he went in, his Mom said "The crazy fools wants us to sell those things. For $529." That was more than Jerry had, until 1960 when he bought his first machine. "I was probably one of the youngest people to have a machine at the time," Jerry says.

Something must of clicked, because in 1962 Jerry bought a Ski-Doo from a dealer in Flood Bay, near Two Harbors. "Benson's at the Midway Station in Grand Marais had Ski-Doos, but they had 7-horse, 4-stroke engines. The one I got was a 6-horse Rotex 2-cycle. For speed. It could do about 21 to 23 miles per hour - downhill - with a good tail wind."

A friend from Schroeder made an 8mm movie of Jerry doing jumps with his Ski-Doo The owner of Halvorsen Tree Service saw the the film and asked Jerry to do PR for them. "To travel and show what you could do with them - besides use them as workhorses." In 1963 Jerry began racing with a Ski-Doo Bombardier and drove for Halvorsen until 1965 when he was at a race at Barker's Island in Superior, Wisconsin. The Polaris team asked Jerry to fill in for their missing driver in the qualifying heats. Jerry did, and beat his own Ski-Doo's qualifying time.

"Ski-Doo started ribbing me; said I should go race for Polaris - so I did. I was on-call to show-off the latest Polaris racing machines. They'd call and say you're going to Michigan, Alaska, or Lake Tahoe. I won 121 professional races and lost six races." Those six races were lost because of three breakdowns and three trips to the hospital. "The only times I lost were when I broke my machine - or my self." Over his racing career, Jerry broke a foot, a knee, a wrist, and an elbow.

vinatge snowmobile

Lots of Trophies, Lots of Riding
On a shelf in the Snowmobile Doctor's workshop sit some of Jerry's trophies; two from the St Paul Winter's Carnival, one from the Roseau Winter Fest, one from the '67 Brainerd
Jaycees race, to name a few. Jerry recalls a race in Duluth with three Tofte snowmobilers, Gervais, Ken Scoog and Floyd Peterson. They took the top three places - Gervais in 1st, Scoog in 2nd and Peterson in 3rd. Due to their wins Tofte was seriously considered "Snowmobile Capital of the World."

Jerry and his friends formed the Tofte snowmobile club, the Superior Timberwolves. "We were the most active snowmobilers in the state when we formed. We has 112 members." The club lobbied for funding for trails, built and maintained trails and rode. The club continues today, as do the trails.

 

jerry jerry trophy jerry and barb snowmobile trophies

 

Snowmobile Repair
During his racing career, Jerry learned to work on snowmachines. One incentive was that he raced in both "Big Machine" and "Open" classes. "Open is where I really shined," he smiles, " that's where anything goes, so I'd tinker with the machine." Jerry left racing in 1971 and in 1973, after the death of his friend, and president of Polaris, Allan Hetteen, Jerry moved part-time [6 months per year] to Bloomington, Illinois where he opened a snowmobile garage.
Very few people had ever seen a snowmobile and Jerry began sending riders up north. "I sold lots of sleds - and a lot of trailers," chuckles Jerry.

In 1991, he moved back to Tofte full-time, to his current location, home of the Snowmobile Doctor. Besides repairs, Jerry sells snowmobiles and parts and restores vintage machines. The trail runs right by his shop, the groomer turns around in his yard, and riders often stop by for a part, a soda, a repair and a good story."If I can, I fix them up right away, get them back out on the trail," Jerry says, "Snowmobiling is a fascinating, really fun sport. And it's family-oriented, too."

excerpted in part from the Cook County News-Herald