DATE OF INDUCTION: February 15th 2020
CAREER SPAN: 1973-1982
COMPETITION TYPE: Cross-Country, Snocross, Oval
BRANDS RACED: Polaris
AGE AT INDUCTION: 61
During a remarkable decade of racing that began in 1973, Archie Simonson of Grand Forks, N.D., rose from a youthful independent to become one of the most successful and decorated terrain racers of his generation. As a talented and fierce competitor aboard the famed Polaris TX-L and Indy models, Simonson was victorious in the biggest cross-country races and circuits of the era, including the prestigious 1977 Winnipeg-to-St. Paul I-500, plus wins and titles in ICCSF and WSRF.
Simonson began his career as a junior in Midwestern oval competitions in 1972, competing on Yamaha and Mercury Sno-Twisters. Encouraged by his dad to focus on cross-country and lake racing, Simonson would prove to be a natural at the rough and tough ditch and lake races in the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin. In 1977 at age 18 he scored his first win at the Balsam Lake Classic, a feat he would reprise in 1979 and 1980. Simonson’s most notorious victory came in the 1977 Winnipeg-to-St. Paul I-500, when the 18 year-old rookie became the youngest-ever winner. The victory would soon pair Simonson with newly formed Pro-5 Racing and created a dynasty that delivered nine more career wins in ICCSF, WRSF and CCC cross-country races; a 1980 WSRF High Point title; Governor’s Cup wins in Minnesota and Wisconsin; and 1982 XC World Series win in his final season.
Physically talented, smart and strategic in his approach, Simonson possessed all the necessary traits of a winner. He was tempered by a humble and fair-minded personality that made him a great champion. He was supported by a dedicated racing family, his father John and brothers Scott and Steven, who also had major victories in snowmobile racing. Simonson’s success with the help of Pro-5 helped Polaris transition away from a factory race program for a few, to a large team of independently supported racers that were highly successful competing against the factory teams.
At his peak Simonson traveled twice to race in Scandinavia, where he introduced and promoted the Polaris brand to markets in Sweden, Finland and Norway. He retired from racing after the 1982 season to focus on his family and business career.
1977 Winnipeg-to-St. Paul I-500 Champion (the youngest-ever winner at age 18) • 11 career victories in ICCSF, WSRF & CCC premier cross-country events 1978-1982 • 1980 WSRF High Point Champion • 1981 Wisconsin Governor’s Cup Champion • 1982 Minnesota Governor’s Cup Champion