DATE OF INDUCTION: February 15, 2014
CAREER SPAN: 1970 – 1976
COMPETITION TYPE: Oval & Cross-Country
BRANDS REPRESENTED: Polaris
AGE AT INDUCTION: 62
As a Team Polaris racer during the dawn of factory Sno Pro competition, Don Omdahl leveraged athleticism and tactical savvy to become one of the top drivers during the first heyday of snowmobile oval racing.
Fresh out of high school in 1970, Omdahl landed a spot on the mighty Polaris factory team with Bob Eastman, Larry Rugland and Jim Bernat. Small, light and strong, Omdahl concentrated his expertise in the 250 and 340cc classes, where he found success at racetracks throughout the Sno Pro circuit. He captured wins at Eagle River, West Yellowstone and Beausejour. He scored a rare trio of class wins in Syracuse, New York as well as a World Series title in Weedsport, New York. Omdahl’s natural talent proved successful in the rare occasions when he competed in cross-country, winning the Rhinelander Hodag event and posting several fast days in the Winnipeg to St. Paul I-500.
Some of Omdahl’s strongest and most memorable feats came just shy of the big win. He led the 1975 Eagle River World Championship final for 10 laps before succumbing to teammate Jim Bernat and finishing second. And a remarkable 440X final in Alexandria, Minnesota saw Omdahl go from first to nearly last after his throttle cable came unhooked. Undeterred, he remounted and charged back to finish fourth in a performance that thrilled a stadium filled with fans. After injuring his neck, Omdahl was forced to retire from competition in 1976.