Snowmobiles were a passion Shane Roenspies was drawn to as a youngster, but one he is only truly pursuing now that he is retired.
Roenspies said his father was a military man and when stationed in Wainwright, Alta, he purchased the family's first sled, a 12.3 horsepower Ski Doo Olympic.
"It was bulletproof," he said of the rugged single cylinder sled. "It was never off. Somebody was always ripping around on it."
Then in the early 1970s Roenspies' father was transfered to Ottawa, where they settled in Muenster Hamlet.
"It was basically a farm field somebody decided to build a town on," he said.
The best thing about the hamlet was that it was only a few miles from the Sandalee Racetrack, where snowmobiles went around the track nearly every weekend over the winter months.
"We got involved," said Roenspies. His mother and sister worked the concession, his father and older brother became flagmen, and Shane, being too young to really do anything "hung around in the pit area."
It was in the pits Roenspies met Joe Martin who took the youngster under his wing.
"I was Joe's little pit monkey," he said, adding he carried tools and helped out where he could.
It was also at Sandalee that Roenspies had the opportunity to see snowmobile racing legends such as Gilles Villeneuve race.
"Even at 12-13 I knew very well who these people were from snowmobile magazines we were buying," he said.
Adding it at about that time he realized snowmobiles in general, and racing in particular "was in our blood."
Flash forward and Roenspies is in his fifties, retired after a lifetime which included a stint in the armed forces, and time underground in the mining sector. He is retired and the garage houses four sleds, with others he shares ownership in at his brothers.
"Two years ago I had no sleds. Now I've got five," he said.
"My brother and I were both working underground at Esterhazy," he said, adding the pair were daily online visitors to a site advertising vintage sleds. "He's (Kerry) a sled-head too. His garage smells like a two-stroke."
There was one morning that changed everything "… My brother comes busting out of the smoke room saying 'you gotta see this right now'," said Roenspies.
There was a 1972 Ski Doo Blizzard for sale, and it was just south of town.
"In our minds that was the holy grail, 'the machine'," said Roenspies. They called the number at 6 a.m., "and bought it sight unseen over the phone."
When the brothers took the sled to an appraiser at Southey a race sled greeted them.
"The machine was sitting in front of his shop," said Roenspies , adding while it was set up with wheeled skis and a pavement track for racing "it was a pavement racer … but it looked quite stock."
They hauled the 'Grail-sled' to his brother's in Prince Albert, but Shane's mind stayed on the 1999 race machine.
"All I could think about was this thing," he said, adding he and his brother both took it for an asphalt run and the power was something that had the adrenaline really pumping.
"I called back the next morning. I had to sleep on it, but I said I'll take it," said Roenspies.
That was some 18 months ago, and the sled no longer looks stock at all.
"I stripped it right down," said Roenspies, noting the seat was chopped, the headlight tossed, and even the foam under the hood eliminated, and most of the suspension pulled.
"I took about a hundred pounds off," he said, adding "when you want to run a bullet you want it as light as possible."
It has an 800 triple motor, which Roenspies said should allow 100-plus mile per hour speeds on an eighth mile run.
The engine is now heavily modified too, with racing pistons, the heads having been shaved and other upgrades made, adding John Kweens of Churchbridge was "an encyclopedia of knowledge" when it came to modifying the dragster sled.
"It's a very, very thirsty machine," he said, adding the two-litre gas tank is good for about a quarter mile, and that's it.
So far Roenspies has not hit the asphalt to see what the sled can do, but that will come at the Yorkton Airport when a day of drag racing is held this month.
"I want to race against myself and get used to everything," he said, adding it is different hitting a throttle with all that power under the hood, being on asphalt, and reacting to the the starting lights.
If all goes well, Roenspies said he hopes to take the sled to several drag race events across Saskatchewan in 2014.