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Snowmobile Digest

Polaris Industries Inc. says net income for its first quarter ended March 31, 2005, was $19.1 million, up 12% compared to 2004 first quarter net income of $17.1 million.
Polaris ceased manufacturing marine products on September 2, 2004. As a result, the marine products division’s financial results were reported separately as discontinued operations. The company’s first quarter 2005 loss from discontinued operations was $0.3 million, net of tax, or less than $0.01 per diluted share, compared to a loss of $2.8 million, net of tax, or $0.06 per diluted share in the first quarter 2004.
Reported net income for the first quarter 2005, including both continuing and discontinued operations, was $18.8 million, or $0.42 per diluted share compared to $14.3 million, or $0.32 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2004.
Sales from continuing operations for the first quarter 2005 totaled $358.3 million, up 9% from last year’s first quarter sales from continuing operations of $329.0 million.
Polaris says first quarter ATV sales increased 12% over the first quarter 2004; sales of Victory motorcycles increased 12%; and Parts, Garments, and Accessories sales increased 8%.
One set back came in snowmobile sales. Polaris says sled sales decreased to $7.2 million for the first quarter 2005 compared to the prior year’s first quarter sales of $13.3 million. Explaining the huge drop, Polaris said sled sales in last year’s first quarter were higher than normal due to increased late season dealer demand resulting from better snowfall in January through March of 2004. The company said snowfall in the first quarter of 2005 was below normal across many of the regions in the snowbelt of North America, causing dealer inventories of snowmobiles to be at higher levels at the end of the riding season compared to last years levels.
Polaris’ first quarter gross profit increased 9% to $84.5 million for the first quarter of 2005 compared to $77.5 million for the first quarter of 2004. Gross profit, as a percentage of sales, was 23.6% for the first quarter 2005, flat with the first quarter of 2004.

The National Park Service is starting yet another study of the snowmobile issue and representatives from the West Yellowstone Chamber of Commerce on April 6 joined Montana congressman Rep. Dennis Rehberg to testify during a hearing of the National Parks Subcommittee of the House Resources Committee.
The hearing was called to discuss the use of snowmobiles throughout the national park system, but talk turned to the financial impact snowmobile tourism has on the inhabitants of communities near Yellowstone.
Under temporary rules approved last year, up to 720 snowmobiles will be allowed into Yellowstone National Park each day during the winter. All of the machines must meet “cleaner and quieter” standards and all riders must be accompanied by a commercial guide.
Bill Howell, a West Yellowstone businessman, said recent uncertainty over snowmobile regulations has hurt businesses in Yellowstone, and said local communities should have a role in deciding the future of snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park.
“There ought to be a collaborative process,” Howell told the committee. He said more than 50,000 people visited Yellowstone in the winter of 2001-02. He said about 14,000 visitors came during the 2003-2004 season.
The National Park Service’s final analysis, and subsequent new laws, aren’t expected for at least two years.

Ski-Doo drag racer Craig Marchbank was named Snow Week magazine’s Racer Of The Year in its April 18 issue. Marchbank, who has raced Ski-Doo snowmobiles for 23 years, was cited for his high winning percentages, his nine victories at Haydays Grass Drags in Minnesota, and his records at the Woody’s Top Gun Shootout in Ontario. Marchbank, of New Lenox, Ill., was Ski-Doo’s first sponsored drag racer. He competes in the modified classes. Marchbank has many longtime sponsors from the powersports industry, including Russ Lemke Enterprises, Dockside Marine, Wiseco Pistons, XPS High Performance Lubricants, Digatron, Cometic Gaskets, Midwest Dyno, FAST Inc., Power Madd, US Chrome, Vforce Reeds, ProLine Suspensions, The Crankshop and Woody’s.

Two organizations will sanction summertime snowmobile asphalt drag racing, each affiliated with hotrod racing groups. National Speed Association (NSA), based on the East coast, will affiliate with the International Hot Rod Association (IHRA); the National Snowmobile Drag Racing Association (NSDRA), based in the midwest, will work with the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA). The NSDRA will replace the National Asphalt Snowmobile Drag Racing Association, which sanctioned races in 2004. The NSA will host five races, including events at the AC Delco IHRA Canadian Nationals in Cayuga, Ontario, and the Amalie Oil IHRA North American Nationals at New England Dragway, Epping, New Hampshire. NSDRA will have a four-race series. The leadership of NSDRA includes Ed Wiegel as president, Rich Stumpf as vice president and Jamie Bellman as treasurer/communications.

Minnesotan Chris Hanson posted a blistering speed of 192.2 mph on the ice strip of the North Bay Snowmobile Straightline Racing track in North Bay, Ontario, in early March. He made the pass on an Anderson-chassis machine with an NOS-enhanced Union Bay engine, appropriately named “Modzilla.” The pass, at 1,320 feet, set a track record and possibly a new snowmobile speed record. The pass was backed up with a second run of 191.3 mph. Whether it breaks Marv Jorgenson’s 1989 speed record of 190.308 mph on a quarter-mile track is a matter of debate among racers, as the track lengths were different.

Snowmobile trails pioneer Carmi Duso of Enosburg Falls, Vermont, died on April 6. He was 101. He is survived by his wife, Phyllis, son Ronald, daughter Elsie Corey, three step children and numerous grandchildren. Duso, a Vermont native, worked for New England Telephone for 42 year. Upon his retirement in 1969, he undertook a new career: snowmobile advocate. He was the first executive director of the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers (VAST), serving from 1972 to 1992. He was instrumental in establishing and standardizing the Vermont snowmobile trail system. He was also well-known for his political savvy, lobbying the Vermont legislature on behalf of snowmobilers. He was a member of the Iron Dog Brigade and entered the International Snowmobile Hall of Fame in 1991. Duso was also a fire fighter, and a member of multiple civic organizations. Memorials are preferred to Cold Hollow Hose & Ladder Company, c/o Enosburgh Fire Dept., 83 Samsonville Rd., Enosburg Falls, VT 05450, or to the Old Brick Church, P.O. Box 38, East Montpelier, VT 05651.

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