A.J. Emrick : True Blue Polaris
Throughout the first two years since
2008 photos would appear on websites, dvd's
and in VSCA Magazine of A.J.'s first restoration, the 1979 Polaris Centurion.
Later, more Polaris sleds started to
appear from A.J. Emrick
and the term "vintage show sled" started to take on a new definition.
A.J.s sled's weren't just "restored" and put back together,
they were dissected, reverse engineered and each nut & bolt resurfaced.
The paint has MORE gloss and the metal surfaces are smooth and full of shine.
These Vintage Sled Restorations are equivilent to what
HOT ROD Magazine displayed for the classic automobile enthusiasts.
In 2011 I had the opportunity to meet
A.J. & Cathy Emrick at the VSCA National Show
in Billings Montana. Taking photos of his sleds and asking him questions
about the restorations was a real treat. The explanations of the time consuming
process to make a sled look "better than original" was on topic and I had the
chance to see the gears move in A.J.'s eyes as he described his process.
I had never witnessed the spirit of
vintage snowmobiles from the midwest
or back east until the 2011 VSCA National Show. The image of the midwest
was professional, detailed and competitive.
Vintage Sleds and judging them is serious business out east.
It is much different than what goes on out West.
Having a chance to meet A.J. Emrick
and view his restorations was unique.
Here is an individual that out of the gate with his first restoration
put an impact on the Vintage Sled Scene in the most competitive
area of the USA. Furthermore, later takes his sleds to another arena
further east to impact their area too. By the time A.J. Emrick made it out
west to the National Show in Billings Montana, Vintage Sled Show Enthusiast
were well aware of who he was. Especially if you are a Polaris fan.
This year A.J.
made SnoProUSA aware of his 1976 Polaris SnoPro
and provided the opportunity to display his process and complete an interview.
BEFORE Restoration Process
BEFORE Restoration Process
had the idea, knowledge and ambition to make this sled "his own"
70's Sno Pro. The parts were sourced and the goal was to build it as close
as possible to what would've been raced during this era.
that his main interest was in the liquid kit motor, then re-build the sled
around the motor. Replacing the crankcase, tunnel, hood, belly pan, etc., with actual
76 TX Starfire parts, including using an actual starfire crankcase.
Next was the tunnel
and getting all of the holes and features exactly as needed.
Finishing touches include a snap mount Bob Eastman Style Seat.
This sled was
very nice to start with, Troy Moore does great restorations.
A.J. completed alot of research, part sourcing and labor to make
the changes to capture the Polaris Sno Pro Era of 1976 and turn it into his own
#15 Polaris Race Sled.
Closing off the vent on the top of the hood.
Fitting the seat and the heat exchangers.
Tunnel, Bulkhead & Belly Pan fitting.
Fresh Blue Paint
Shaft Installation & additional belly pan fitting.
The of era Polaris Liquid Motor.
Buffed and 100% Fresh
A. J. EMRICK #15 ~ 1976 Polaris SNO PRO
Now the sled matches A.J's Polaris Show Fleet in good fashion
and he achieved the goal of making it "his own SnoPro"!
Great Craftsmanship !
A. I started riding
snowmobiles at my home in Indian Lake Ohio.
Our first sled was a 1969 Mercury 200 (which I have a chassis for a future restoration).
I can remember riding in circles in front of our house until all of the snow brushed off of the ice.
I would get my Dadís "hand-me-down" sled and as he up-graded
Our next sleds were:
77 Polaris Electra 440
78 Polaris TX440
79 Polaris Centurion
79 Polaris TX440
79 Yamaha 300
1980 Polaris TXL
Dad sold the Merc and the Electra so we ended
up with the two TX sleds
(78 for me and the 79 for my sister), the TXL for my mom, the Yami for my youngest sister.
Dad had the Centurion. Our 4-place trailer was pretty impressive back in the day.
After college, I moved to Minnesota and brought
along the two TX sleds.
Eventually selling them for an 97 indy 500. In 98, I bought a XC 700 and began taking
Cathy and I would travel to the rockies every year.
We then traded up to a 2005 and 2007 Polaris Switchbacks.
Q. Why Vintage ? Why the fever for restoring ?
I was reading something about the Waconia ride-in.
Knowing Dad (and my sister) still have our Centurion, Yamaha 300 and 80 TXL,
I asked if I could have and restore his Centurion with the intent of
taking it to the Waconia event were Polaris would be the featured brand.
Dadís only instructions were
ďdonít sell itĒ.
I brought the Centurion to Minnesota in May of 2007 and started to tear it down.
I finished it in time for Mom and Dad to see it fully restored when they made their trip
to Minnesota that fall.
The sound, smell and shine brought back allot of memories but nothing
more happened until Waconia in January 2008.
1979 Polaris Centurion 500 - A.J.'s First Restoration
1st Place 2012 VSCA National, St. Ignace Michigan
That was the first vintage event I attended.
On Saturday, I rode the Centurion on the vintage ride and that evening, we attended the banquet
where several of the polaris racers and test drivers spoke of their adventures.
On Sunday, the big show had almost 700 sleds and countless Polaris snowmobiles.
The Centurion was in the non-TX class and honestly, there were only a few sleds in that group.
The recent restoration shown above the other sleds in the class and it took a first.
But as I evaluated the other Polaris sleds, I believe it would have done very well against the others.
One Polaris that would have smoked it was Bob Czerniakís 79 RXL.
That won the Polaris race sled class and was something special.
I thought it was the top sled in the event. Later I purchased that 79 RXL from Bob.
I didnít do much with the vintage stuff until
the 2009 Waconia show.
This time, I entered the Centurion in the 76-79 class and to my surprise, it won.
I still remember calling my Dad and filling him on the results.
It was that show that moment that hooked me on the vintage bug.
A couple months later I had a 76 starfire and 78 TXL in my shop waiting for a restoration.
Q. Tell us more about your restoration past and the method that works for you.
Iíve restored dozens of sleds over the past
Mostly TX / TXL style sleds but Iíve done a few indys as well.
My typical practice is to buy 2 or 3 of the same sleds, tear all of them down,
transfer all of the best parts to one sled for my own collection but restore the others too.
Then sell off the extra sleds. In this way, I can usually cover my initial purchase and have a
little extra cash for vacations or other projects.
Itís allot of work doing it this way, but I end up with some pretty good parts, allot of experience,
and it doesnít cost much in the end.
In addition to the 76 Sno Pro, I just finished a 77 TXL which will be heading to Canada.
Q. What is your current Polaris Fleet Collection line up ?
My current collection of restored sleds include:
1976 Polaris Sno Pro
1976 Starfire 340
Dadís 1979 Centurion
1980 TXL Indy
Q. What Vintage Snowmobile Awards have your received ?
I have a few wins at the two national shows Iíve attended and nearly
of the year both times.
At Waconia, Iíve won the 76-79 class a few
times with different sleds and took
1st and 2nd in the race class.
That second Waconia win is pretty special to me.
Got a few ďBest of ShowsĒ
Iíve had some articles written where Hal Armstrong
used my sleds
for the illustrations (Candian Snow Goer and SnowTech).
A.J. with his 1977 TX-L 340 at the 2011 VSCA National Show in Billings Montana
This sled also won 1st Place at the 2011 National
A. Our family was very good friends with the local Polaris dealer.
Even went on winter vacations with his family. Because of that relationship,
my dad would get some priority in buying new sleds including his Centurion.
He was one of the only ones in Ohio to get the early release of the sled.
Why do you have the #15
on your Race Sleds ?
A. I dragged raced as a kid so we didn't need any numbers, but as I got older and started
to own oval sleds, I used the number I had for football and track.
Q. What Kind of Oil do
you use ?
Do you ride vintage sleds?
A. After work I like to start up the 76 Merc 340 Liquid
and race it on the lake and stuff. It really goes.
I like to take the 1980 Indy out trail riding too.
are going to be your next restorations?
A. The Classic Midnight Express 1978 RXL 340
and then I am gonna do something different...
A 1978 Moto-Ski Sno Pro.
is it that you really enjoy about Vintage Snowmobiles and Restoring them?
A. It feels good to have acquired a pretty nice reputation in doing something I enjoy.
TX Starfire 340
2 TIME National Championship Winner
2011 VSCA National, Billings Montana
2012 VSCA National, St. Ignace, Michigan
2011 VSCA National Show ~ Billings, Montana
1978 Polaris TX-C - Waconia 2013
1978 Polaris TX 440 - Waconia 2013
1980 Polaris TXL Indy - Waconia 2013
St. Germain 2010
A.J.'s Two Champ Sleds, 1976 Polaris TX Starfire 340 and the 1979 Polaris RXL
Douglas Minnesota 2011
Douglas, Minnesota 2010 - Presidents Choice
Jim Bernat and A.J. Emrick with his fresh Sno Pro Restoration prior to the hood completiton.
This was at the Polaris Factory during the debut of StarFire KIDS by Larry Preston.
A.J.'s SnoPro in line with all of the Starfire Kids' Polaris Race Sleds on August 3rd, 2013.
Douglas, Minnesota 2013 - Presidents Choice
Eagle River Wisconsin 2013
Douglas, Minnesota 2013 - Winner 1980 + Class