BRANDS REPRESENTED: Arctic Cat, Polaris and Ski Doo
AGE AT INDUCTION: 57
DATE OF INDUCTION: February 18, 2017
CAREER SPAN: 1974 – Present
COMPETITION TYPES: Oval, Drag, Cross-Country
Racer, tuner, engineer and advocate for the growth and sustainability of snowmobile oval racing, John Hooper of Goshen, New Hampshire, impacted the sport of snowmobile oval racing at all levels and with profound success. As an engine and sled builder specializing in Arctic Cat, Hooper achieved seven Eagle River World Championship titles in the premier Champ 440 class in addition to hundreds of class wins and multiple high point championships. As an advocate for oval racing, he conceived and launched new classes of competition aimed at increasing participation.
Hooper was a top eastern racer in snow oval, drag and cross-country competition in the mid-1970s. When oval racing transitioned from snow to ice, Hooper transitioned to sled builder and tuner, starting with Keith Young in 1980. The formidable pair claimed multiple titles in NASRA and NESRA circuits – including five Mechanic of the Year awards – and capture several class wins at Eagle River. With no formal engineering education, Hooper applied his masters of ingenuity and experience to pioneer ideas that would be universally adopted in Champ, including the wide “safety” ski; pairing the fuel and slide lube tanks on the tunnel to aid in driver body support; the move to low, center-mounted heat exchangers rather than radiators; the development and adoption of shorter 106-inch tracks; and his patented set-screw style clutch weights. Working with talented drivers, Hooper’s innovative engineering and pioneering sled building resulted in seven World Championship titles: three with P.J. Wanderscheid; two with Gary Moyle; one with Larry Day; and one with Nick Van Strydonk. Hooper has also built race and championship winning engines for Brian Sturgeon, Blair Morgan, Eric Nicholson, Dan and Ed DeVault, Phil Moulton and Aaron Fellows. Additionally, his engines have garnered wins in many of the premier drag race events in North America, and the Predator big bore cylinder kits of his own design are legendary among high performance riders and racers.
While Hooper’s engineering and tuning expertise made him one of the most successful builders in a generation, it was his advocacy and vision to create and nurture new classes in oval racing that will define his legacy. He conceived, cultivated and sourced sponsor support to launch the Formula 500 and Outlaw classes, each of which helped grow grassroots interest and accessibility to oval racing, and did the same with Pro Lite to offer a sensible bridge for future Champ racers. Hooper’s selfless love of the sport and steadfast resolve are hallmarks of his years as racing advocate.