BRANDS REPRESENTED: Polaris
AGE AT INDUCTION: 68
DATE OF INDUCTION: February 18, 2017
CAREER SPAN: 1968 – Present
COMPETITION TYPES: Cross-Country, Enduro, Hillclimb, Oval, Drags, Watercross
For nearly five decades, Burt Bassett of Roseau, Minn., helped put Polaris and many of the brand’s most decorated racers onto the top of the podium in nearly all forms of snowmobile competition. His successes as a driver and developmental technician for the Polaris factory cross-country team were exceptional on their own, yet it was his role as sled builder for dozens of winning oval, enduro, drag, cross-country, hillclimb and watercross racers that would cement his status as a truly outstanding talent.
A smart and savvy rider from his years as a Polaris test rider, Bassett notched dozens of victories in multiple disciplines during a career that began in 1968. He captured victory at the 1974 Soo International 500 enduro; several wins in USSA cross-country events; top-5 finishes at the Winnipeg-to-St. Paul I-500 four years in a row beginning in 1975; helped develop the legendary TX, TX Starfire and TXL snowmobiles; and captained the Polaris XC team in 1976 and 1977. In 1979 Bassett was a key figure in designing and developing the first prototype Polaris IFS cross-country snowmobile, which he raced to three Experimental Class wins in ICCSF competition and evolved into the legendary Polaris Indy. He also scored wins in western hillclimb competition, drag races and IWA watercross competition before retiring as a driver in 1998.
Bassett’s most famous accomplishments were saved for his role as founder of Pro-5, the Polaris-focused aftermarket race shop launched in 1981. There, he and partner Larry Rugland along with colleagues Aryln Saagge and Wayne Hanson, fabricated and built sleds for future hall-of-fame talents like Archie Simonson, Mike Houle, Steve Houle, Mike Staszak, Ivan Hansen, Corey Davidson, Gabe Bunke and more. Machines built by Pro-5 captured wins in USSA and MRP; multiple Eagle River World Championships; eight Soo 500 victories; multiple Jackson Hole World Championship Hillclimb titles; IWA watercross wins; NSSR speed records and more. Hundreds of race wins, innumerable championship titles and Polaris victories at the most honored events of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s are the lasting legacy of Pro-5 and Burt Bassett.