Craig Marchbank is used to collecting victories on the track. He spent 30 years racing snowmobiles professionally. “We were very prepared when we hit a racetrack. Second wasn’t an option,” Marchbank says.
Marchbank and his teammates Doug Boyd and Gary Greiner lived up to that mantra. They racked up plenty of big wins in a racing career that took them throughout the United States and Canada. In 2005, Marchbank received a very prestigious honor, appearing on the cover of “Snow Week” magazine as their “Racer of the Year.” “That’s just icing on top of the cake. The cherry on top of the ice cream. It’s just phenomenal to be recognized to that extent,” Marchbank says.
Marchbank’s team was sponsored by snowmobile manufacturer Ski-Doo. While he and his teammates were chalking up victories on the track, Marchbank was collecting snowmobiles and other related paraphernalia. “You would go to the race team events and different functions for Ski-Doo and they would give you just different merchandise and paraphernalia and coats, jackets, sweaters,” Marchbank says. “When I was a young man, I just held on to that stuff.”
Marchbank retired from racing in 2011 and is now the president of the Snowmobile Racing Hall of Fame in St. Germain. He’s turned his personal collection of machines and memorabilia into an impressive display that sits on the second floor of his garage near Tomahawk. “One thing stems from another to another to another, and before you know it, there’s 140 sleds here,” Marchbank says.
His collection includes about 140 Ski-Doos, a handful of Moto-Ski brand snowmobiles plus gloves, hats, jackets, magazines and trophies from Marchbank’s racing career. The collection features several rare snowmobiles and a few “serial number ones.” That means they were the first of that series off the production line, making it more valuable to collectors. The oldest sled in Marchbank’s collection is a 1960 Ski-Doo. That was the first year the company mass-produced snowmobiles. Painted bright yellow, the first thing many notice about the machine is its wooden skis. “There’s probably only a couple dozen left between Canada and the United States,” Marchbank says.
Marchbank’s collection features sleds from the 60s and 70s through today. Walking through the room is a trip through snowmobile history. One of his favorites is a 1992 Ski-Doo Mach-1X built for his racing team. It was one of six ever produced. Painted black with sleek aerodynamic features, the Mach-1X series could exceed speeds of 100 miles per hour. “There’s only, I think two, maybe three left in existence of the six. Extremely dominant machines for their time and era,” Marchbank says. “They banned the snowmobile because it was so fast.”
Marchbank’s proud to note every snowmobile in his collection runs. Each winter it’s common to see him out on the trails on one of his classic sleds, with helmet and jacket to match. “You find a trail that’s as smooth as glass and you’re riding an old sled and you tootle along 25, 30 miles an hour,” Marchbank says. “Man, it don’t get no better than that.”