Mercury Racing loans historic 1975 Team Mercury Sno-Twister snowmobile to the Snowmobile Hall of Fame and Museum
A piece of Mercury Racing history is now on display at a Wisconsin museum – a snowmobile museum. A one-of-a-kind 1975 Mercury Sno-Twister snowmobile that was campaigned by the Mercury Marine factory-supported snowmobile race team on the Professional Drivers Circuit (PDC) during the 1974-75 season has been placed on permanent loan to the Snowmobile Hall of Fame and Museum in St. Germain, Wis., where it will be displayed alongside hundreds of racing and consumer snowmobiles that trace the history of the sport, with a focus on competition.
Mercury Marine entered the white-hot snowmobile market in 1967 and, after ironing out some “wrinkles” with its early models, became a key player in the segment with its Lightning, Rocket and Hurricane models. These were family sleds and sales in the snowmobile business were driven by success on the race track, with events being held every weekend across the snowbelt. In 1972 Mercury made the decision to build a competitive racing snowmobile, which would be called the Mercury Sno-Twister. To design the new sled, Mercury hired former Boeing engineer Lyle Forsgren away from Rupp Snowmobiles and noted two-stroke engine tuner Les Cahoon. The first Sno-Twister model debuted for the 1973-74 season and immediately dominated its stock racing class. Mercury engaged professional racer Doug Hayes of Crandon, Wis., to ensure the initial on-track success of the Sno-Twister, but the sled was so successful in Stock D that Hayes and Cahoon modified the engines and moved from stock to Mod I and Mod III classes, and Hayes rode the Mercury to a national championship in Mod I.
For the next season, Mercury formed its own factory-supported team to race on the new Professional Drivers Circuit (PDC) with drivers (and brothers) Doug and Stan Hayes, Kohler engines tuned by Cahoon and Dick Bahr, and support from mechanics Jerry Witt and Bob Mendlesky. The team would race highly modified sleds based on the production Sno-Twister models designed for stock racing classes. The rules for the PDC required the use of a stock chassis and engine crankcase. Every other component on the team sleds was designed and built by the race team. The clutch guard and track cleats are titanium. The chain case and motor mounts are magnesium. Skis are aluminum. The clear Lexan chain case cover and many other plastic parts were molded in the Mercury Marine prototype shop. The sled weighed the class minimum 250 pounds.
The Team Mercury PDC sleds were constantly changing as its mission that season was to develop and test components for an all-new 1976 Sno-Twister series powered by new liquid-cooled engines that would dominate stock racing for several seasons and remain one of the most legendary racing snowmobiles every produced. The Mercury Sno-Twister now on display at the Hall of Fame is the only surviving example of six that were raced by the Hayes brothers during the 1974-75 season. Following the season Mercury requested that one snowmobile be saved for its archives and, for liability reasons, the others be destroyed. Doug Hayes assembled this Sno-Twister from the best remaining parts from each of the team’s sleds, including his own #5 hood.
Mercury withdrew from the snowmobile market following the 1976 season.
Doug Hayes and Stan Hayes and Dick Bahr remained active and successful in snowmobile racing and have each been inducted in the Snowmobile Hall of Fame.