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March 30, 2009

G-Force, ISOC, Guinness Record

Our friends at G-Force had a pleasant surprise recently. As some may know Gilles and his crew established the ISR world speed record for a snowmobile last fall with his Apex powered slip-streamer. He has been working with the officials at Bonneville to run his machine on the salt. As there is no classification for ‘tracked’ vehicles within the organization, Gilles ‘Bonny’ attempt was postponed for a couple of years to allow the technical and classification aspects to be addressed.

Well he had the call last week from the officials after receiving pictures of the sled and details of Gilles world record run in Val D’or, seems they have fast tracked the entry and welcomed Gilles to run this September. There are some concerns regarding the small wheels under the skis causing some unusual ruts in the salt that might affect other vehicles so Gilles may be asked to run at least one test session if required. Pressure is now on as the team thought they had 18 months to prepare, this is now changed to 6. I’ll keep you posted as the worlds fastest snowmobile gets ready to take on the salt…

Left Gilles, center Richard, right Bob

Left Gilles, center Richard, right Bob

Gilles recently hooked up with another Yamaha world record holder, Bob ‘HONDO’ Davis. Bob achieved his record from Guinness for the ‘most miles in 60 days’ on board his Yamaha RS Venture. The cool thing is the Venture had well over 30,000km before setting out and is currently kissing 60,000km on the odometer, aside from oil changes and a valve adjustment the engine is completely original having never been apart. You can get caught up with all of Bobs adventures on Totallyamaha.

Here is a picture that features Bob and Gilles together with PASSIONYAMAHA’s Richard Hotte. Richard was instrumental in getting the ‘worlds fastest’ together the the ‘worlds most reliable’ for an official introduction and photo session.

Out west another fast guy left his mark on Revelstoke’s Boulder Mountain. Our own Randy Swenson took on all comers at the annual Big Iron Shoot-out and ended up ‘top dog’ in this colorful outlaw event. Turns out his propane powered and boosted Nytro spoiled the day for some fast-talkin, turbo-charged mustard-tubs… ata boy Randy!

In other racing news the factory racing snocross team is finishing up the season in strong fashion. I am looking forward to watching Iain hit the slopes at Horseshoe for the CSRA finals… heres the latest release.  round-7-isoc

And overseas our old pal Yuji Nakazawa has locked down the Japan SX championship, heres a few pics from ‘Ace’ Oyama our newest member of the snowmobile development team, (pardon the ‘Jenglish but you’ll get the picture

Yamaha 1 and 3

😉  ) mfj-all-japan-sno-x-rd5

In closing, the Toronto Supercross was a blast on Saturday, this shot kinda sums it up. Cheers  cr


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Posted @ 2:24 pm in Competition and Racing   

March 16, 2009

Alcan 200 – Testing in WI

Last week was one of those ‘pinch me I must be dreaming’ periods where I am reminded how cool it is to be working for Yamaha. I found myself at our testing facility in Wisconsin along with several guys from Yamaha USA, Victor fromgroup.jpg Russia and a few engineers from YMC. The agenda entailed some very focussed meetings and an opportunity to test ride some new project prototypes. Snow conditions were not that great around Minocqua so we travelled up to Hurley Wisconsin where the trails were in surprisingly good shape. We had some awesome riding conditions under sunny skies at 12F and even manged to run into some fresh grooming.You can see by the smiling faces on this rag-tag bunch of outlaws, at times life in the ‘office’ is pretty good!

Jeff Rmid-race-2.jpgyan an old pal of mine from BC,  sent me the following story and I found the concept quite amazing. It’s about one of the best kept competition secrets in snowmobiling, the Alcan 200. Imagine if you will, taking a wide sweeping section of highway close to a hundred miles long, hitting it with a giant Zamboni, and running an out and back, no holds barred ice / road race rally for snowmobiles. Welcome to the Alcan.

Here’s what Jeff had to say:



“The race happens in a place that most people have never heard of, smack-dab in the middle of no where. The track is a twisty highway covered in a thick layer of ice, 86 miles one way with 2 fuel stop’s, racer’s leave 2 abreast and 15 second’s apart. After the racer’s arrive at the end of the first leg the ambulance and sweep truck’s clear the track and then they race back to the start. There is some more info on the Alcan 200 website. This year was the 40th aniversary of the event.


In 2008, the Alcan 200 was won by an SRX700 Big Bore with an average speed of 117 mph. The all-time record average speed is held by the same machine  at120.08 mph. To my knowledge this is the only snowmobile road race in North America. There is typically about 40 entries in this race of which only half will make it to the finish.alcan2.jpg The race is held in the Alaskan Panhandle and BC running into the Yukon and took place on Jan 17-18. This years winning rider is Travis Adam’s from Whitehorse, Travis was the last Canadian to win the overall in 98, he has had 3 first place finishes in different classes since first running the Alcan.



Yamaha has long dominated this event, the average speed record is 121mph and is held by a mod SRX, (these thing’s are legendary for their aerodynamic’s and engine reliability.) The second fastest average speed came from a near stock SRX600, remember the 2 fuel stop’s each way, these sled’s are moving FAAAST… Most rider’s dont need the fuel but they MUST stop, remove the cap and put the jerry can spout in the gas tank This year #2 and #3 were the Hill brother’s from Alaska on a pair of RX1 turbo’s.



alcan3.jpgTravis ran a 2008 Apex RTX, extensively modified specifically for this one single race. It is not a trail sled for the rest of the season and will sit til next January. The build is based on a McXpress 270hp turbo kit, due to lack of soft snow for lube and cooling a Nytro rad is installed on the back and a rail spray lube system is added. It’s geared as high as possible and the sled will exceed 160mph oalcanwinr2.jpgn GPS, tracks will not last long at this speed so a little control is required. Travis held the machine at just under 140mph to minimize a possible disasterous track explosion. Travis told me that he has seen a pile of track debris on the hi-way and the trackless sled 1.5 miles up the road, no brakes and just idler’s on glare ice makes for a long, scary glide

alcanwinr6.jpgTravis had his sight’s on not only the overall win but also the average speed record but unfortunately the second half of the race went through bad weather and ‘white-out’ condition’s. Travis still took the overall but was unable to get the new average speed record, his average was 113mph. Get this, Travis started in 11th– so on the 6th row–that’s 90 second’s back of row 1 and he was 1 minute ahead at the half way point (86 miles). Last year Travis lost when he ran out of fuel almost within sight of the finish line, he was leading by a long shot. Travis is funny, I dont know if you can say this but pre race jitter’s get to him big-time, he get’s diarea and vomiting prior to to any race he enter’s… the whole family is involved in racing, have been for a long time. Interesting folks as they aren’t in it for the glory, it’s simply what they love to do.

Unfortunately there was a tragic death in this years race, a Yamaha loyal rider, running in the vintage class on board an SRV540 Jeff Peede, saddly, did not make it through to the end.”

So there you have it… 120 mph AVERAGE over 200 miles, good thing there are no Caribou in the north! Congratulations Travis and Yukon Yamaha, job well done!! and a special thanks to Jeff for sending in the details.

Cheers  cr

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Posted @ 11:06 am in Competition and Racing,Yamaha People and Communication   

February 4, 2009

Pre 2010 Launch

Man, things sure heat up around here when it  comes to new product launch time… I seem to have an abundance of unrelated  topics to share and very little time to be creative. So- I figure I may as well ‘shotgun‘ today’s post and let you pick and choose the subjects that interest you:

Competition Stuff, X-Games report from the US boyz, you have likely heard but here is the official word.


USCC cross country racing, believe it or not Yamaha Phazers have carved a nice little niche in the sport class, here’s the media release.


Our old friend Yuji Nakazawa, has found his form back at home and is currently atop the SX standings:


Mechanical Stuff

Here are a couple of pics from under the hood of the worlds fastest snowmobile… I was thinking what a great ad it would make to get Hondo and his world record mileage sled togther with G-force and their world speed record sled. I see a simple caption, something to the effect of: What does the worlds fastest snowmobile have in common with the worlds most reliable snowmobile? Yamaha engines!

img_2771.JPG img_2772.JPGimg_2773.JPGimg_2774.JPG

This supercharged G-Force Apex has a potential of over 500 hp, the view from the cockpit is somewhat intimidating. The large central tank contains ice water for engine cooling, the tank on the right side is water used specifically for the liquid-cooled, inter-cooler, then flows over the exhaust system, exiting via a water jacketed exhaust pipe (makes for a cool looking vapor cloud out the back). Some long travel MTB shocks up front for a comfy inch or two of suspension, The steering is achieved using cables like an old style F-I boat… The tank on the left running board hold the fuel (100% alcohol) and the one you can barely see up front holds the oil. They lost an engine to this at one point due to the extreme acceleration duration which forced the oil  into the back of the tank causing the front mount oil pick-up to suck air… doh!

img_2775.JPG img_2776.JPGimg_2777.JPGimg_2783.jpg

I have seen this fluid primary clutch before that Gilles is helping bring to the next level. There are  pistons in each of the cylindrical chambers which are oil filled. Under centrifugal force the pistons force the oil into another chamber through tunable passageways causing the shieve to close. Note the schrader valve: the top of the main chamber uses air pressure to replace the primary spring to return the shieve, forcing the oil back into the the piston cylinders. It is infinitely adjustable by varying the amounts of air and oil. It also is not limited (durability) by RPM like a conventional clutch, which in our case, could negate the need for a reduction gear. They have developed a very cool feature with a hydraulic, remote control which allows the driver to hold the clutch shift on the line regardless of RPM, can you spell ‘holeshot’… boggles the mind!

I had mentioned that Gilles has developed a clutch spec for the Nytro which in his words is clutched ‘similar to a 2-stroke’. Our OE clutch spec is intentional delivering a very hard hit for the purpose of bump timing and lofting the front end over obstacles . He has discovered- for the guys running around on the groomed trails– that lowering the shift RPM, keeping the engine in the fat part of the torque curve allows for superior trail manners with increased fuel economy. He has machined his own fly weights which shift out sooner than stock and keeps the engine working, they have re calibrated the secondary and applied a little magic, the end result has more than a few Quebec trail burners smiling.

When Gilles was explaining his tuning theory for the Nytro, I was reminded of the old ‘wind-shield wiper’ analogy. This is where the tach and speedo needles advance at the same rate, kinda like a couple of windshield wipers, as opposed to a narrow power band engine (2-stroke) that ideally should tach out to the optimum max RPM then drag the speedo needle up to speed. I wagged my index fingers to demonstrate and Gilles gave me a big grin…’nough said.

Looking to tame the beast, putting more power to the trail with no loss to top performance? Give Gagne Lessard a call, don’t be shy they have English speaking staff… what I’m hearing is all good! cheers cr

New Stuff

My friends over on Totallyamaha have probably seen the latest ‘teaser’ but in case you don’t know… Johnny is back (and thank the powers that be… so is Bunny). I would have posted this sooner but I just stumbled out from the mushroom patch 😉

The embargo date for the 2010 sleds is Feb 10 at 12:00 noon EST. We will have all the specs up on our web-sites and after the dust settles, I’ll add my .25 to the controversy.Yes you read that correct. I anticipate that we will have controversy after reading all the conjecture on what we are about to unveil… I do hope the 300hp turbo Apex rumor won’t disappoint too many if it doesn’t happen…  😉  cheers  cr

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Posted @ 9:39 am in Accessory Stuff,Competition and Racing,Industry News,Opinions and Insights   

January 30, 2009

Soucy and G-Force

It has been an interesting week. I drove out to Drummondville Quebec, home of the Soucy Group to meet with their engineers on a couple of projects we are working on. You may not have heard of this company but I guarantee you have experienced one or more of their products at one time or another. They are a major supplier within our industry, building parts for BRP, Polaris and Arctic Cat. The Soucy story is really quite interesting.

msoucy.jpgThe founder, Gilles Soucy an avid snowmobiler, had the vision to purchase much of the tooling and parts for all the old sleds back in the late seventies as most of the original parent companies abandoned the snowmobile business. He started a distribution network for these parts (persoanlly delivering them out of an old school bus) which were still in demand and soon after, entered the manufacturing business to replenish and supplement his new business. His wholesale company, ‘Kimpex’ grew quite large and was later sold-off by Gilles as he shifted his focus to the design and manufacture of OE spec parts.

His venture readily expanded with the award of many OE contracts starting with Skidoo and branching out from there. These days the company specializes in metal fabrication, rubber track and UHMW / plastic products. I had the chance to do a full factory tour and was truly amazed at some of what I saw being produced. The rubber division is making track systems for most of the commercial and agri applications (such as groomers, tractors, combines etc…) and more impressive- secretive military stuff.

I have met Gilles several times over the years (unfortunately he was in Florida on this particular visit). He is a very intelligent and engaging man. One thing is clear when visiting his modern conglomorate, he has somehow preserved the essence of a grass roots ‘mom and pop’ family run operation. It’s reflected in all his employees and it’s not uncommon to see Gilles himself wandering the factories floors, speaking to his people, still an active part in the day to day business. I find there is something very ‘human’ about this big company which leads me to my next visit.

A couple of hours to the south and west of Soucy lies a quaint little town called Coaticook nestled in the hills close to the US Vermont / NH border. I made a point to visit here while in ‘the hood’ because this is the home of G-Force and the groupe.jpgworlds fastest snowmobile. Gilles Gagne and the staff at Gagne Lessard Yamaha, the local dealership and parent to G Force, have something truly amazing going on in the back of their shop. I have had the fortune (sometimes misfortune) of visiting / working with many different performance tuners and modification gurus over the years. I have learned to never take the performance gain claims at face value without asking a few questions and perhaps performing my own validation. I’ve seen enough to know when something is not transparent or too good to be true and I also know when someone is doing it right and is worth a second look. I can tell you one thing for sure, G-Force is the ‘real deal’. Gilles himself is brilliant and he has surrounded himself with a team who reflect his passion, ethic and vision.

team-lamtrac-gforce.jpgI am thinking G-Force is one of the performance industries best kept secrets but if Gilles dream becomes true this is all about to change. I am going to write a detailed report of what I saw in his back room and include a bunch of interesting pictures of some of the mods including his world record (210mph) slipstreamer. He also has developed some special parts to help dial in the Nytro for improved groomed trail riding and is working on some easy and effective (affordable) bolt on horsepower for Yamaha 4-strokes but more on that later.

I couldn’t help but think of sir Tony and the Worlds Fastest Indian when I had dinner with Gilles. If you have never seen this movie, I highly recommend you rent it, throw a little ‘bean oil’ in a hot fry pan and crack a brew. It is a tribute to all back-yard tuners and motor heads with a dream and the passion to make it real. Gilles Gagne is one of these remarkable guys…

cheers cr

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Posted @ 1:08 pm in Competition and Racing,Industry News,Yamaha People and Communication   

December 16, 2008

Acronym Contest – Snowcross

Things are getting off to a good, snowy start here in southern Ontario. Many clubs are grooming and putting the final touches to the trail signage in anticipation of opening soon. Having said that, this time of year always requires additional caution. I won’t preach to the choir, just be extra careful if you are amongst the lucky few who are riding already.

sx1.jpgThe weekend provided another opportunity for the factory snowcross team to test their mettle. Steve Taylor made the main and ran with the pack for the full twenty laps. Iain Hayden actually posted some of the fastest lap times of the day only to be denied after he popped his shoulder out on a high speed uphill, bail-off. Andre assures me that Iain is still fit to race. The shoulder injury is an old one that, painful as it is, can be forced back into place being not much the worse for wear. Andre actually tried to set it himself track-side but was  unsuccessful,  relegating Iain to some more professional care at the local hospital. The Nytro’s received a bunch of tweaks following Spirit Mtn and showed vast improvements. Here’s the official release: round-2-isoc-yamaha-factory-team-press-release.pdf

Adam sent me a couple of interesting links from a European web-site. The concept appears to be similar to a road race course laid out through a ski-hill village dedicated to snowmobiles. The spectating would be fun with all the surrounding infrastructure and scenery and the course appears something any one of us could take on without being a full fledged athlete with a hi-buck sponsor.acronyms.jpg

Finally I had some good feedback on the Yamaha acronym challenge last week and am attaching the answer sheet. I have also added some of my own tongue in cheek descriptions to the meanings: acronyms-smb-2.xls

I’ll confirm the trivia master winners for you in my next post. Now turn off the computer, stop listening to the news and get outside for a ride already…

Cheers cr

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Posted @ 11:21 am in Competition and Racing,Opinions and Insights   

November 21, 2008

Taylor Hayden SX update

Yamaha Factory Snocross Race Team, update

I spoke with Greg Marier this morning, who is at Planet X with the Factory Snocross race team. I haven’t spoken with Greg since last spring when they were shaking out some new ideas after the CSRA final at Horseshoe Valley Resort. I have been hearing some interesting comments on the new FX Nytro racers and thought with round one of the new ISOC series being held at Spirit Mountain, Duluth set to go off next week, it would be a good time to do some digging.

peek2.jpgI could tell immediately, Greg is excited about the potential the team is showing and the advancements they have achieved since last spring. He is being typically guarded about the mechanical workings of the stock-based chassis. As most of you know, the race engines are supplied direct from our factory, built up from the 1050 triple with a smattering of exotic parts. They are configured to shape the power to meet the demands of pro-level snocross racing which translates into mega throttle response. And Greg says YMC has delivered in spades. The biggest advantage of the 4-stroke over the competition is realized in the quick response available at any throttle setting. This is where our engineers have focused. That said, as a bonus they have also delivered a bit more peek horsepower over last years mill.

The chassis set-ups have undergone some major revisions over last year (reading between the lines) but I am going to have to buy Greg a couple of stiff ones before I attempt to pry any details from him. The good news is during testing they have not had any serious durability issues and no gremlins have yet to surface.peek6.jpg

Steve Taylor is joined this year by another Canadian rider Iain Hayden. They have both been working hard in the off-season to get into top physical condition. Calgary native, Drew Robertson was hired by the team as their personal trainer and motivational guru. According Andre Laurin, the team manager, Drew’s program and discipline has clearly shown some significant results.

Greg mentioned they are now dealing with the first real saddle-time of the season, firing up the muscles  in a real track environment and dealing with the adrenaline charged, mental preparation a week out from the first major race. Steve rode two  fifteen minute motos followed by two twenty minute motos yesterday which may not sound like a lot but is quite a haul at a pro-level pace. This bodes very well for his physical conditioning this early in the year. Iain, I am told, is also looking very comfortable and in control on board his Nytro.

truck.jpgThe plan now is to tear down and carefully inspect the sleds then re-assemble for another practice session Monday, after which the riders will hit the gym in final preparation for the Duluth start line. Practice for the team will commence next Friday Nov 28 and carry through Saturday with the race going off Sunday the 30th. If all goes well, the team plans to travel north to Canada and enter the first round of CSRA racing at Searchmont Resort, outside of Sault Ste Marie, Ontario.

I  received a copy of some media material released by Yamaha USA which some of you may find of interest. It comes in the form of an article describing the basis of the team structure and equipment: yamaha-sled.doc as well as the full media kit in PDF form: 09-full-snocross-kit.pdf

iain.jpgI sense the guys are outwardly being ‘cautiously optimistic’ but once prodded it is apparent they are really stoked with the potential of both sleds and riders, as Andre put it, they are ‘incredibly impressive’. Lets hope that we see another ‘David and Goliath’ return this year, with little Team Blue making some regular appearances on the ‘box’.

Good luck guys… all of us here at YMCA are rooting for you.



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Posted @ 4:00 pm in Competition and Racing   

November 12, 2008

Propane Powered Sled

No…  it’s not what you think!


As mentioned in ‘Belly Mon, Going Up’, my old friend Randy Swenson is up to his old tricks again.
I learned a long time ago to take his madness seriously, like when he announced he was going to build up his ‘Project 101’ RX-1 Turbo based on an early pre-pro unit, kicking off the whole Yamaha 4-stroke turbo thing in the process.

This summers project may not be quite as ‘impactful’ but it certainly is a head turner. The latest creation features a turbo-charged, propane power system bolted up to his Nytro MTX, offering him two major advantages. The first addresses the octane requirements of any +15lb boost engine. To make the big power, reliably, either a heavy blend of, or 100% race fuel is required. At $4.50 a litre it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out the sting to giggle factor. Propane on the other hand is cheaper than regular gas and has an effective octane rating equivalent to a 120 RO.bbq-1.jpg

The system Randy used is engineered specifically for 4-stroke snowmobiles (Yamaha) and has been three years plus in development. Val Simmons (of Simmons Flexi-Ski) and Brad Story (Team Thunderstruck) have both been very instrumental in the design and manufacturing of the Simmons Propane Systems turbo kit. Strangely enough one of the biggest hurdles in getting the kit to market has been found in the fuel cells which have been a long time in the government approval and certification process. The cells run in pairs and come in 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 gal options. Randy is using two 7 gallon tanks which will yield about 160 km (100 miles) per fuel load in mountain condition. ed: This could be significantly more on our eastern trails.

He can add fuel at any service station that sells auto propane but for convenience, Randy has installed a 270 litre tank in his truck.

bbq-2.jpgSo what’s the big deal beyond the fuel cost savings? I believe what really hooked Randy, after riding Brad’s propane sled (in his words) was the ‘incredible throttle response‘ and ‘crispness’ of the engine. Our current FI system requires elaborate e-prom mapping to cover every conceivable fuel requirement with complex logarithms to meter the demands. With the addition of a turbo, this mapping has to be altered and its not unusual to experience some burble or hesitation at times.

The propane system removes the stock injectors and all the electronics that control them. The propane is delivered by a new ‘load based’ injection system that reacts directly to manifold pressure and according to Randy, he has never ridden a ‘cleaner’ responding sled… ever. Speaking of clean, he mentioned that the oil comes out of the engine looking almost as clear as the day it was installed, perhaps another benefit in the long term.

I asked him what kind of power he expected to make and at what level of durability. How about 300++ reliable horsepower at upwards to 26 lbs of boost. The engine internals are all stock except for a head shim to reduce the compression and some beefier studs to hold it all together, limiting deck distortion under full steam. As incredible as it seems, our engines have proven able to build this kind of power reliably over the long run, during several seasons of high boost and high mileage. Our engineers bbq3a.jpgstill smile when I bring the point to bare even though they won’t agree to the engine duty cycle probabilities as defined by our own internal standards. Randy is more than doubling the output of his Nytro MTX using the stock parts, so how long do you figure your new Nytro or Venture GT is going to hang together? 😉

Well that really only leaves one question in my mind: how much will all this cost for parts and time? How about 11,000 USD! Yeah I know… but consider this, the kit contains the turbo and all its components, the propane system complete, assorted body parts and professional installation. The latter is not an option at this time, you must have the work performed by Simmons Propane Systems. Considering the current cost of a gasoline turbo system (installed) and some of the additional magic like nitrous, to ensure crisp response plotted against the cost of race fuel, propane systems may well prove to be a bargain for the high-mark riders.

With around fifty of these monsters on the snow and more in the wings, I am considering the feasibility of having our accessory guys develop an optional ‘GYPA’ titanium grill for the tunnel deck. Can you imagine the ‘kabobs’ Randy could cook-up with 14 gallons of propane at 7000 feet! This would kick the crap out of buddies ‘Hotdogger’ nestled around the expansion chambers of his beloved, pine-cone-challenged, 2-smoke. And yet another good reason to go 4-stroke! 😉

cheers cr

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Posted @ 10:29 am in Competition and Racing,Tech Talk,Yamaha People and Communication   

September 22, 2008

Blair Morgan Injured

Well it looks like I might be getting my first taste of the white stuff a little earlier than expected. Our whole crew is rendezvous.jpgpacking up and heading out to the Fairmont Chateau Whistler this weekend for the Yamaha Motor Canada, 35th Anniversary Dealer Conference. Randy Swenson (who just finished putting his sled away for the season) sent in this photo taken topside of Whistler just yesterday. I’m thinking my trusty Birkenstocks aren’t going to cut it.

Richard from the PassionYamaha Forums sent me an email reminder this morning about a very interesting event which will also take place this coming weekend. Gilles Gagne and his Attak team from Gagne Lessard are goigagne.jpgng to make their final assault on the world snowmobile land speed record. Gilles is pictured in this months Supertrax with his G Force Division twin turbo Yamaha Attak. The magic number is 200mph and if I know Gilles, he’ll most likely exceed it. His dream was to perform the run during the Bonneville Salt Flats speed week but the promoters of the event do not have a class for sleds and consequently required an additional 30,000 USD to establish one, ouch! The record attempt is now going to be for the Guiness book instead and will take place at the Val d’Or Airport on the 27th. Good luck guys.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if Yamaha snowmobiles recorded the world distance record (Bob ‘Hondo’ Davis) and the world land speed record both within the same year. Hmmmm I can see it now, the worlds most reliable and the worlds fastest…  the boys in Valcourt won’t be very happy when they hear about this! 🙂

I hate to end on a down note, but as you have likely heard, Blair Morgan was involved in a nasty crash at the Montreal Supercross this past weekend, sustaining a very serious back injury. There has been a black cloud hanging over our office all morning and we are all hoping to hear some good news from the surgeons and wishing Blair a complete recovery. He has been the defining icon of snowcross for over a decade and a fierce competitor in Canadian motocross. Get well Blair.


UPDATE: I received the following information this morning and am passing along to all of you…

We have received this update from Blair Morgans wife, Terri letting us know what his condition is.  Please free to send this out to the media and they can post this on the industry websites as you feel.

Blair Morgan September 22, 2008

As most of you know Blair has suffered a substantial injury due to a crash while practicing for Montreal Supercross at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

During Saturday afternoon practice in Montreal, Blair sustained substantial injuries to his middle back. A surgery was performed and went well, however it was soon discovered that as a result of the vertebrae separating from each other on impact, Blair’s spinal cord was severed, leaving him with paralysis from his middle back down. He was taken off the ventilator soon after surgery and has been progressing well since. This afternoon (September 22, 2008) he was moved out of ICU to the orthopaedic floor and arrangements are now being made for his transfer closer to home. He is resting now and he is focused on recovering and working closely with the physiotherapists. I know as most of you do as well, Blair is a fighter and this incidence will not keep him down for long.

Special thanks to everyone for their well wishes, just so you know there are so many people rooting for Blair and we really appreciate it so much.

Please feel free to e-mail your questions and well wishes to Blair at blairmorganrecovery@gmail.com

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Posted @ 1:47 pm in Competition and Racing,Yamaha People and Communication   

June 19, 2008

Randy Swenson – First Ascents

There is no doubt working at Yamaha is a very cool job and career choice, consequently we have attracted some very passionate, keen individuals over the years. I am dedicating this weeks post to one of them.2008-randy-enters-the-snatch.jpg

I first met Randy Swenson over 20 years ago when he was the Yamaha accessories rep for western Canada and I was working for the Yamaha Shop in Vernon BC. It wasn’t long after that I took a position with Yamaha, moved to Vancouver and hooked up with Randy on weekends as well as for business trips. He was heavily into motorcycle road racing at the time and I spent a few days at the track watching him lap along with some other young upstarts like Pacific Yamaha’s, Steve Crevier. That first winter I convinced him to come do some sleddin’ with me in Prince George, apparently he enjoyed himself!

2008-randy-leaves-fuji-snatch.jpgWe also dove headfirst into the relatively new sport of mountain biking and would hook up with some other Westwood throttle twisters to bomb the creek beds and trails at the base of Grouse and Seymour mountains in North Vancouver, the same areas which are now renowned by free-riders as mountain bikings mecca … the North Shore.fuji-in-sweny-street.jpg

I soon learned to respect Randy’s natural athletic abilities, his quick eye-hand and fearless commitment to the ‘line’ which I credit a lot to his early years of down-hill ski competition. The other notable trait that I recognized in Randy is his calm but confident demeanor or more simply, his ‘walk softly and carry a big stick‘ approach to competition (and life in general).

The only time I ever saw fear on his face was during a shared vacation in Jamaica where we found ourselves well lubricated and perched atop the rocky bluffs at the famous Ricks Cafe. Our pal, Richard Irwin another Yamaha throttle twisting employee, had challenged us to dive into the briny, boiling surf at the base of the cliff. Richard dove gracefully into the 100 foot void leaving Randy and I to ponder our fate. He took one look over the edge and slowly sat down on the rock shaking his head, I had indulged in slightly more of the local spirit and proceeded to jump giving myself a refreshing Jamaican enema in the process…

superchute.jpgFast forward to the spring of 2002. I was in Calgary Alberta for a Star motorcycle event and got with Randy to discuss his latest sled project. He had been riding modified Mountain Max’s and SRX’s for the past few seasons and had the idea to take one of our new 4-stroke RX-1’s to build a hill climber. He called Project 101, ‘Got Boost’. Randy had been in contact with a Swedish motorcycle performance company, MC Xpress to discuss the feasibility of adding a turbo-charger to the new RX-1. The rest as they say, is history and I give Randy a lot of credit for being a pioneer of what has become the dominating force in snowmobile mountain climbing: four-stroke, turbo-charged Yamaha mod’s.

The ‘game’ now, for a select few, is the ‘first ascent’. Finding a slope that has never been scaled by a sled, nailing it inrand-in-fuji-snatch.jpg front of the camera and in recognition, naming the run, the honor of which, reserved for the conquerer. Randy has several first ascents to his title and the following report of his latest conquest recently came in from him (after a little prodding) as a segue to the next feature film in the Thunderstruck series to be released later this summer. Here’s what Randy has to say:

“After looking at this chute the entire year I finally decided it was go time. It is 3000 feet long and a vertical of around 2500′.
In comparison, “The “Monster”, which I think all of you know on Boulder, is under 1500 feet long and a vertical of just over 1,000’……….so that is why I named it this new one “Super Chute”!

superscute2.jpgThe start zone was at 4400′ and end was 6900+……the longest vertical our producer knows of.

I flew into it 2 weeks ago in helicopter just to check it out from bottom to top.

Three issues arose:

How do I get my sled into the bottom of it?
Will I fit through the rock wall ‘bottleneck’ near the top?
Will my sled blow a belt / overheat / blow the intercooler off…… or just fail??

D-day, I dropped into the drainage chute……..kinda like going down the Monster……..2 of the support crew that followed crashed going down with me……we flew one sled off the hill due to severe damage!!…….LOL.


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Posted @ 11:37 am in Competition and Racing,Yamaha People and Communication   

April 8, 2008

Spring SX Finals

…must come to an end

Early Sunday afternoon, I found myself standing at the foot of the Horseshoe Valley Ski Resort / CSRA snowcross track hs3.jpgwatching the vintage sleds challenge the ‘bunny hill’. The mercury was over 15C (60F) under clear blue skies, awesome conditions to spectate the final races of the season. Greg Marier and the Yamaha Factory Race team were on site and both Martin and Taylor had placed very well in all their qualifying runs. The Pro-open main was set to go off later in the day so I had to entertain myself cheering for the only other Yamaha on the track. An old black Enticer 340 that was dicing it out with a cherry red Rupp in the vintage class, (the ET won by the way 😉 )…

I met several Sled Talk ‘bloggers’ at both the Big4 spring show in Barrie and last weekends snowmobile race. I was reminded-amongst other things- of my obligation to write the SRX development story which currently resides as a stack of old documents in my ‘to-do’ basket. It’s clear to me in talking with many you, we are coming off a long snow season and most have had the opportunity to rack up some serious miles on their sleds. We have a lot of new potential customers looking at Yamaha now, after one too many expensive engine repairs or, riding days lost. Many of our existing customers are considering a new sled if not this season, then next and everyone is considering what maintenance and parts are required before putting the sled away for summer storage… This all helps to preserve snowmobiling in a healthy state going into next winter.

Total industry snowmobile sales in Canada are up over last season and the pipe line of non-current models has been largely depleted. The mountain segment has shown the most growth, which now represents almost a quarter of all the sleds sold in Canada. Yamaha Motor Canada also attained growth within this market and we still retain our market share position of second (next to Skidoo). The sales of trail permits are reported up in the key provinces and it appears snowmobile related, serious injury (and death) is in decline. This is especially good news considering the extra miles and hours spent by everyone on the snow this year.

hs2.jpg…So here I am 100 feet in front of the start line with my daughter perched on my shoulders. Two blue sleds are in the front row and the flag is about to drop for the Pro Open final. Braaaap, a blur into the first corner and Taylor exits in first place for a strong drive up the long ski hill face with Hayden in second and Martin on the other Nytro in third. It looked good for Taylor until a bad line at the half way point saw Hayden slip by and hang on for the win with Steve a couple seconds behind. I snapped this shot of Taylor and Martin making a Hayden sandwich at the start finish line. It was reallyhs1.jpg cool to see (and hear) the power of 4-strokes going up the mountain. I spoke with Greg at length today as they are staying on at Horseshoe for a few extra days of testing in preparation for next years snowcross assault. He’s already getting pumped for next year. It was apparent to me, standing in the crowd, how big an impact these two sleds are having on the spectators, especially when they are running stronger with each outing. Perhaps winning isn’t everything-yeah I know… but it sure is exciting to be in the hunt.

Jon and Pete are attending important meetings in Japan and a bunch of interesting events are happening around me, here at Yamaha but that’ll all have to wait until next week. Until then, if you are getting out for another rip as the snow melts, I envy you. But I have lawns to rake and tires that need air not to mention the makings of a ‘winter boiler’ that’s demanding some serious ‘cardio’.

Heres a couple of last minute race reports out of YMUS



cheers cr

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Posted @ 3:07 pm in Competition and Racing,Travel and Events