DATE OF INDUCTION: January 17, 1991
CAREER SPAN: 1968-1978
COMPETITION TYPE: Oval & Cross-Country
BRANDS RACED: Polaris
AGE AT INDUCTION: 47
One of snowmobile racing’s most durable and versatile performers, Jim Bernat enjoyed a long and successful career in professional snowmobile competition, beginning just as factory pro racing emerged in the late 1960’s and continuing until the end of the professional factory racing team era at Polaris in 1978
Always identified with Polaris, Bernat’s trademark at the racetrack was a ready, friendly smile. A tough and talented competitor, “Smiling Jim’s” impressive race record includes wins at nearly every major racing event during his decade of racing including a win at the Hodag 50 plus wins in his favorite open class at Ironwood and Peterborough in the early 70’s.
Bernat finished 3rd overall on 650’s in Sno-Pro’s first season in 1974 and scored the World’s Championship on his 650 at Eagle River in 1975. A “big engine winner,” Jim was always a threat on the 650s, winning his last major pro oval win in Super Mod III at Eagle River in 1977. Jim was a driver and racing team manager until the end of the 1978 season, Jim stays close to the sport working as a field test manager at Polaris in Roseau, Minnesota, his hometown.