Old Sled Zone: 1970 Skiroules at the Manitoba Centennial Run

Bill Hammond of Winnipeg has a long, successful relationship with snowmobiling

A picture of a line-up of snowmobiles parked outside a diner on a winter day.
Reader Bill Hammond sent in this great vintage picture. Photo courtesy Bill Hammond

This week’s vintage snowmobile story comes from an interview SnoRiders recently did with Bill Hammond of Winnipeg.

Bill has a long successful relationship with snowmobiling. Here’s a bit of his story and a great vintage photo of a line-up of Skiroule and Scorpion (?) snowmobiles from the 1970’s, sitting in front of the Sky Lite Diner on a chilly January day—classic 1970's snowmobiling.

There were many reasons why skepticism was rampant going into the Centennial Run. Nothing like it had ever been attempted before. “It was a logistics nightmare,” said Bill Hammond. “January, 500 miles (800 kilometres) on 1970 machines, 20 riders, five service vehicles, spare engines, 200 spark plugs, 100 drive belts, hundreds of bogie wheels and springs, extra clothing and 500 gallons of pre-mixed fuel to start with refuelling done at predetermined check-stops.”

Besides gathering all the supplies, making the run legal was another hefty undertaking. In 1970, it was illegal to ride a snowmobile in any ditch or shoulder of any provincial road. Hammond went to Winnipeg and had a productive talk with the Minister of Transport for the province. The minister issued 20 waivers plus five special waivers for the service drivers to sign, freeing the province of any liability. “I personally believe the only reason we got these waivers was because it was the Manitoba Centennial, they wanted to promote Manitoba and the minister’s son-in-law had a machine,” Hammond said.

The Manitoba Centennial was a success. It’s one of the reasons Hammond was selected as SnoMan’s 1982 Snowmobiler of the Year, besides his work as an organizer and promoter of the sport.

Read the entire story here.

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