Eilertson and Norman Lee Busse, both from Minnesota and
Grigoiry Shulik from Russia are being inducted as
adventurers. Fifteen years ago this group completed a life
long dream of an inter-continental snowmobiling experience
come true. Also to make a World Record and promote
friendship and understanding between snowmobilers world
It took three years of planning and the support of Arctic
Cat, Tousley Sports Center, Minnesota based 3M, Eureka
Tents, Scott Eyewear along with the hundreds of individuals,
families, and small businesses that provided food, shelter,
and support. Eilertson was the route-planner, the arranger
of lodging, and public relations stops along the U.S. route.
Busse acted as fundraiser using sweatshirts, t-shirts,
buttons, and specially designed posters. Shulik worked with
the Soviet officials and Connect US/Russia clearing the
route through Vyborg, Lenningrad, Novgorod, Valdai, and
ending in Novosibirisk, Siberia.
On January 16, 1990, they started out on this 5,000 mile
expedition at Tousley Sports Center, White Bear Lake, MN,
then proceeded through: Wisconsin, Michigan, Ontario,
Quebec, New Hampshire, Maine, New York, then flying via
plane to Finland, then proceeding through Vyborg, Leningrad,
Novgorod, Kalinan, and arriving February 24th in Moscow,
U.S.S.R. At every town throughout this expedition, the team
were greeted by the locals.
This historic international snowmobile expedition showed
that snowmobiling can be and is a world wide togetherness
and family sport. Their goal to meet people, share cultures
and ideas, improve relationship between the two countries,
and promote snowmobiling had been accomplished.
Arctic Cat district sales manager Scott Eilertson recalled a
famous event he was a part of 21 years ago during last
Saturday's fall open house celebration at Country Cat of
Sauk Centre. A two-and-a-half week snowmobile expedition in
1990 from Minnesota to Moscow included Eilertson, his
American expedition partner Lee Busse and their Russian
counterpart Grigori Shulik.
Shulik was the Soviet Union's national snowmobile champion
of the day.
"It was the first snowmobile trip into Russia from the
United States," Eilertson stated. "At the time, US-Soviet
relations were shaky with the fall of communism around that
time and the Cold War coming to an end.
The expedition, which required a full three years of
planning, was made possible by the high-level negotiating of
former Vice President Walter Mondale.
"Mondale ultimately got us permission to do the trip,"
Eilertson pointed out. "It was a dream for snowmobilers to
see this type of inter-continental trip come to fruition.
The event marked friendship and understanding between
snowmobilers around the world."
On Jan. 16, 1990, Eilertson, Busse and Shulik mounted their
three 1990 Arctic Cat Jag AFS Long Track 440s and started
out on the 5,000-mile expedition at Tousley Sports Center in
White Bear Lake. The trip took them through Wisconsin,
Michigan, Ontario, Quebec, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine,
New York and then via airplane to Finland.
Upon landing in Finland, they reloaded the Arctic Cat sleds
and proceeded through Vyborg, Leningrad, Novgorod, Kalinan
and finally arrived in Moscow, U.S.S.R. on Feb. 24. It was
there the three risked their freedom to spend three minutes
in the Red Square to have their picture taken in front of
St. Basil's Cathedral.
"We didn't even shut the snowmobiles off," Eilertson said.
"We had to get in and get out."
The trip ended in Novisibursk, Siberia, which had been named
sister city to St. Paul/Minneapolis only one year earlier.
"For those two and a half weeks in Russia, we spent every
night in auditoriums meeting locals in those towns who were
fascinated and curious about the U.S. economy," Eilertson
explained. "They were just being introduced to the idea of
capitalism and the concept of free markets. It was a great
opportunity for Arctic Cat to be a part of while promoting
the sport of snowmobiling."
The expedition was underwritten with the support of Arctic
Cat, 3-M, Eureka Tents, Scott Eyewear and hundreds of
individuals, families and small businesses who provided
food, shelter and support.
Eilertson planned the routes and arranged lodging and public
relations stops in the U.S. Busse raised funds and awareness
of the trip through sales of sweatshirts, t-shirts, buttons
and specially-designed posters. Shulik worked with Soviet
officials in clearing the route from Vyborg to Siberia.
In 2005, Eilertson, Busse and Shulik were inducted into the
International Snowmobile Hall of Fame (ISHF) as adventurers
for their efforts on the trip. The ISHF website states about
the trip, "Their expedition showed that snowmobiling can
foster world-wide togetherness and is a family sport. Their
goal to meet people, share cultures and ideas, improve the
relationship between the two countries and promote the sport
of snowmobiling has been accomplished."
Eilertson thoroughly enjoyed spending the day at Country
Cat's open house. He was thrilled to be pictured with local
snowmobile racer P.J. Wanderscheid.
"I am truly P.J.'s biggest fan. He pulled off one of the
most truly amazing events in the history of snowmobiling by
becoming the first person to win the Eagle River World
Championship four times in the 48 year history of the
event," Eilertson stated.
Wanderscheid will be inducted into the Eagle River World
Championship Hall of Fame in September 2012.