Snowmobile Endurance Record

World's Endurance Record -- 05-06MAR, 1971

Jeff Brick and I set a snowmobile world endurance record on 05-06MAR71 at Donnybrooke International Speedway (now Brainerd International Raceway) located about 7 miles northwest of Brainerd, MN. The record was for 984 miles in 24 hours at an average speed around 41mph! That 984 miles was with 867 miles non-stop -- we refueled in-motion every hour and exchanged drivers in-motion every 3 hours. Jeff and I worked together at Rademacher Marine for a while (~'69-'71) – he went on to Stout State in Menominee, WI (for Fall 71?) and I got drafted in SEP72. The event's pictures were taken by a Mercury Marine (Kiekhaefer Mercury back then) photographer. The snowmobile that we used was a brand new Mercury Lightning (398 cc CCW engine) taken out of the crate about 1.5 weeks prior to the event with about 5-8 hours of break-in. It only stopped once during the event in the back straight (between turns 1 and 2) when drive belt blew -- it was quickly replaced and back running again in about 1-2 minutes (I replaced drive belts all the time as a mechanic there at Rademacher Marine....stern drives in the spring and summer, and snowmobiles in the fall and winter). Unknown to me at that time during the unplanned stop due to replace the blown drive belt, a few of the pit crew had already gone out to see what happened since not being back at the Start/Finish line within my usual lap time. When coming out of turn 10 entering the almost 1-mile straightaway and the beginning of the pit area, I threw what remained of the now replaced shredded drive belt towards the assembled group there….then they knew “why” I had taken a longer-than-usual lap time. We (Jeff and I) had a spare drive belt wrapped around the sled’s handlebars so that it was quickly accessible “just in case” that we would need it during the event….and it was needed. We were sponsored by Mercury, AC Spark Plugs, and Union 76.

My dad, Joseph C. Lambert, was the Mercury Marine Zone Sales Manager for northern Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin. We moved to the Brainerd area (northern MN) in JUN68 from living on southest shore of Lake Winnebago outside of Fond du Lac, WI so dad could be more centered within his territory. Fond du Lac was, and still is, the home of Mercury Marine. Dad retired from Mercury in 1982 in Nacodoches, TX. Nacogdoches was the location he chose for his "most of Louisiana and east half of Texas" territory that he took over in 1980 as a Zone Sales Manager for Mercury.

My goal was to join Mercury someday too. The plan was to finish-out the school year at the Brained State Junior College, and transfer to Stout State in Menominee Falls, WI for Fall of '73 to major in Industrial Education. Upon graduation, then "go with" Mercury. There are times in one's life where your trek in life's journey deviates from the plan -- my draft notice was received on Sep 2, 1971 a few days after starting the Fall semester -- I withdrew from college and enlisted in the USAF a few days after that (and discussed further in my Professional page). I was certified as a Factory Trained Mechinic for Mercury's sterndrives - MerCruiser - in April, 1971 (I was all of 18 then!) and pretty good at it too getting things fixed right the first time resulting in very few "returns" over the course of my wrench-turning. I had already attended an outboard and the first sterndrive training classes when 16 and 17 respectively.

Me on the left with my dad on the right (looking towards the snowmobile). The event was about to start.

Me on the left...with Jeff (Brick) on my right. We were talking with the United States Snowmobile Association (USSA) official just prior to the event starting. There were 2 USSA officials there to certify the event; the other USSA official is on the extreme right.

Last minute trial of exchanging drivers at Donnybrooke (which is now Brainerd International Raceway).

Last minute trial of refueling at Donnybrooke.

My dad, Joe Lambert, on the left. My back to the camera. Jeff (Brick) talking with me on the right (you can see his goggles on his helmet).

Refueling sled set-up. 5 gallons of pre-mixed fuel delivered in about 7 seconds. The nozzle is the type used (then?) delivering fuel oil for heating. We came up with the idea, then tested it with water until getting the pressure right.

My dad, Joe Lambert, taking a break near the end (on Saturday, 06MAR71)

Me, whizzing around at Donnybrooke.

Me again, seeing the chalkboard with the progress each lap.... They kept the chalboard up-to-date with events, things to know, when to refuel, when to change drivers, etc.

The chalkboard.

Me, all of 18 and some.

After it was over. Jeff (Brick) on the left and me in the middle.

Mercury Messenger, April 1971

Mercury Messenger article from April, 1971. This was the Mercury employee's newsletter sent out each month (my dad, Joe Lambert, was a Zone Sales Manager for Mercury for many years (until he retired in 1982)). The article encapsulates the 24-hour event.

The Brainerd Daily Dispatch for Saturday, March 6, 1971

Several photos and their captions highlighting the Endurance Record having taken place for the past 24-hours. The top right picture shows my dad, Joe Lambert, updatng the chalk board for the laps and thier times. The bottom picture is with me during one of the laps.

Poster (from Mercury)

Large poster (about 36" x 48") from Mercury in 1971. Even though not seen or named in the text or any of the pictures, this poster is prominent in my office today.