DIESEL INJECTION OF PITTSBURGH
Damn, it's hot in the summer in Pittsburgh. But when the thermometer climbs, one way that I cool off is by looking at the photo on my office wall taken just a few months ago. It's me and some trucking friends snowmobiling in Utah.
What a pleasure it is to be able to share my favorite sport with owner-operators - all OOIDA members - who appreciate a fine-running diesel engine and love snowmobiling. Once a year I travel to Utah to snowmobile with Sherman and Pat Zeeman of Pason, UT, David Campbell of Traverse City, MI, and Larry and Karen Selkirk of Seattle, WA.
What started out as a work trip for me back in 1998 to tune up Dodge Cummins pickups in the Salt Lake area has turned into a yearly trip to enjoy the beautiful Wasacht Mountains on snowmobiles with my high-performance owner-operator friends.
OOIDA member Sherman Zeeman has been an owner-operator for 50 years and pulls a low boy. He hauls Caterpillar equipment out of Peoria, IL, to the West. He drives a Peterbilt with a 550 Cat that has a Pittsburgh Power Cat Box.
By the way, this OOIDA member is an accident-free professional, 70 years old and soon to retire from the road. He says he needed more time off, especially in the winter to ride snowmobiles with his wife, Pat. They've been snowmobiling 45 years and she just can't get enough of the sport. She is a wild 69-year-old who loves to mountain climb on the sled to set the high mark.
I watched Pat get thrown off the sled at the top of a mountain. Her sled started down the slope without her and she ran and grabbed onto the rear bumper and was dragged to the bottom of the mountain behind the sled. Her statement at the bottom was, "You don't think I was going to walk down the mountain, did you?" By the way, these mountains are so steep it's impossible to walk down them. You must slide down them on your rear end.
The Zeemans have three children and seven grandchildren, and all of them snowmobile. Their son, Ren, is quite the gearhead, and has a turbocharged four-cylinder Yamaha RX-1 snowmobile capable of 250 hp.
Our snowmobiling buddy David Campbell has a son, Dudley, who lives in Heber City, UT. Dudley is a fly fishing tour guide during the summer, snowmobile guide and a snow cat operator at Park City Ski Resort in the winter. So, David gets a load to Salt Lake at the beginning of February and spends the entire month visiting his son and snowmobiling.
David runs a Volvo with a 500-hp Detroit with a Pittsburgh Power Computer, straight-through mufflers and a large turbo. He is 69 years old and loves power.
Dudley is a great mountain sled driver, always setting the high mark on the mountain, standing on the running boards with one leg and the other leg hanging out for balance. He is teaching his father the art of mountain sledding and, yes, each year I can see a difference in David's ability. Just goes to prove, high performance owner-operators are always willing to learn more about their ride. It doesn't matter what the age is, the love of power knows no age.
OOIDA member Larry Selkirk is only 58 and is so addicted to snowmobiling that he carries his sled in his moving van all winter long. One weekend he is riding in Maine, and the next weekend he is in Colorado. His rig is 82 feet long and is powered by a Signature 600 Cummins in a 1998 Kenworth T-2000. He doesn't worry about the space and the extra 500 pounds the sled weighs.
Larry used to race snowmobiles in upstate New York as a kid. If you ever get to talk to him, you'll see that he is still a kid at heart and a pleasure to ride with. He hauls for Graebel Van Lines out of Aurora, CO, and only runs the
I-80 corridor from Seattle to New England, so he can always find snow to ride his 800cc Ski Doo Rev 151.
You should see the look on the other snowmobilers' faces when they see an 82-foot long rig pulling in to the parking lot. They think he is a factory race team, and sometimes Larry lets them think that. His KW is equipped with limited-slip differentials so all eight tires have traction to get him out of the snow-covered parking lots.
My wife used to ask me, "why can't you be normal?" As I thought about that statement and all of you owner-operators whom I get to deal with every day - I came to the conclusion that I am normal. It's just that those of us who love high performance think differently about machinery than the rest of the population.
Bruce C. Mallinson may be reached at email@example.com.