LEROY LINDBLAD: STARFIRE KID

UPDATE: Funeral services will be on Saturday, October 20, 2012, at 11:00 am at Helgeson Funeral Home, with visitation one hour prior. Interment will be at the Moe-Rose Cemetery, rural Roseau, MN. A reception celebrating Leroy’s life, will follow at the Brick House Restaurant, Roseau, MN, from noon to 3 pm.

You know what that means! Leroy would have wanted us to have a good party.

Leroy Lindblad passed away peacefully, due to complications from cancer on Saturday, October 13, 2012, surrounded with his family in Salina, Kansas.

Leroy Lindblad, 1974

Leroy Lindblad, 1975. Leroy ran some of the PDC events that year, doing extremely well on a one-off 250 he built. He raced the enduro circuit the rest of the year, coming back to win the 440X class at the end of the year in West Yellowstone, Montana.

“What are you doing over here?” I asked Leroy. He was sitting on the far end of the bar at Waconia, while his co-workers from Polaris were all up front talking about the history of Polaris and Polaris racing. I thought it odd that he was not sitting with them.

Leroy smiled as wide as the grand canyon. I’m not sure he remembered my name, but he certainly recognized me and was happy to see me. He said hello, then offered his explanation for his choice in seating. “I’m just kind of speechless. I mean I can’t believe this is that big of a deal.”

Waconia had Polaris as the featured sled, and for the entire day Leroy had been walking around looking at all the old Polaris sleds as well as the other brands. It struck me that he probably talked to thousands of people today. No wonder he was sitting where, perhaps, he could catch his breath. “You know, I think every damn sled ever manufactured was out running around that lake today!”

“You all did some truly remarkable things. It was a fascinating period in history, and you got to live it like no one else could, or ever will be able to again.” I said. Leroy just smiled again. “I would have done any and all of it for free. I just loved doing it. I still can’t believe I got paid to do any of it!” We both laughed. We tried to listen to the speakers, but the noise in the Waconia ballroom was just too great. Instead, we had a fantstic conversation, where Leroy told me a great story, then another, and another until it was time to go.

Leroy Lindblad Promo Picture, 1970

Leroy Lindblad Promo Picture, 1970. Courtesy of Aaron Johnson

Leroy was a mechanical genius, an extremely meticulous race set-up technician, and excelled in the snowmobile enduro racing circuit. He was a two-time Polaris snowmobile race champion in the Winnipeg – St. Paul I-500 race, 1970 and 1971, and winner of the Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, Soo I-500 race. He contributed years of service at Polaris Industries, Roseau, MN, specializing in successful snowmobile power-train engineering development from 1967 to the mid-1970’s. Leroy received numerous accolades with his winning achievements.

Leroy was inducted into Thee Snowmobile Hall of fame on January 16, 1992

Leroy Lindblad Racing, 1969

Leroy Lindblad Racing, 1969, courtesy of Aaron Johnson

In 1976, Leroy and team mate Larry Rugland got an offer that was too good to refuse, and so he raced one year with the Bombardier Ski-Doo Race team, in Valcourt, Quebec, Canada. He came back in time to help the Midnight Blue Express with the famous 1976-1977 season, where they won over 85% of the races they entered.

He was a key contributor to designing and developing successful race sleds built by Pro-5, (Burt Bassett, owner) Roseau, MN. In the off-season from snowmobile achievement, Leroy successfuly owned and operated Lindblad Custom Harvesting, who was well-known throughout the heartland of Texas to northern Minnesota with his harvesting business.

Leroy will be greatly missed in the Power Sport and Agriculture sectors, as well as his many contributions to product development for snowmobiles, and by fans, friends, family and admirers of his work.

Leroy Lindblad, 1972

Leroy Lindblad, 1972 tries on a new hat and has a laugh. Courtesy of the C.J. Ramstad estate.

Funeral services are pending in Roseau, Minnesota

It was a great run Leroy – thank you!

Leroy Lindblad, 2009

Information from Bob Eastman. Photos from Aaron Johnson, Jim Bielke (snowtechmagazine.com), the estate of C.J. Ramstad, Larry Preston.

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3 Responses to LEROY LINDBLAD: STARFIRE KID

  1. A longtime fan says:

    A gentleman and a fan favorite. A true pioneer in our sport.

    God bless, Leroy and may you rest in peace.

  2. Mike Bigger says:

    Mr. Linblad –
    I saw you in person many years ago at the fair grounds in Antigo WI.
    You were working on one of the Houle bros. sleds and it was an honor to watch you
    do your magic as one of your small grandaughters was climing all over the sled asking you a million questions and your patience was remarkable. After watching that I knew the kind of gentle man you really were aside of your mechanical genius
    side that you instilled that has made the sport what it is today.
    It’s extremely hard to hear of your passing and my prayers are with your family.
    R.I.P. Leroy

  3. Debi Halcott says:

    RIP Leroy Lindblad | VintageSleds.com is a wonderful post. I am about to take more time researching this issue.

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