Ted Nielsen

DATE OF INDUCTION: February 15, 2014
CAREER SPAN: 1967 – Present

BRANDS REPRESENTED: Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo & Yamaha

A pioneering snowmobile and motorsports dealer, strategic businessman and one of the sport’s most decorated independent race team owners, Ted Nielsen of Lake Villa, Illinois forged a remarkable career that set industry benchmarks for success while spanning more than four decades.

After falling in love with the emerging sport of snowmobiling in 1967, Nielsen launched his franchise as an Arctic Cat dealership in a converted gas station in 1969. In the decades that followed, he added product lines and product categories, growing his family business into an award-winning dealership that garnered International Dealer of the Year as well as multiple state awards. Nielsen co-launched the successful Lakewood Sportswear brand of snowmobile outerwear in 1982, the first aftermarket brand of clothing targeted to the snowmobile industry. He was among a small group of individuals that financed the successful launch of Arctco prior to the company’s public offering, which brought back the Arctic Cat brand in 1983. Today the Nielsen Enterprises dealership sells all four snowmobile brands as well as six ATV, five motorcycle, three personal watercraft and two boat brands.

Many of Nielsen’s most recognizable achievements occurred in the competitive arena of snowmobile racing. As team owner, Ted partnered with some of the sports greatest drivers: Jeff and Greg Goodwin, Brad Hulings, Bobby Donahue, Chuck and Allen Decker, Dale Loritz and Mike Campbell. His drivers and teams won at nearly every venue in North America, one of the most satisfying being the hard-fought victory at the 24 Hours of Eagle River in 1996. Nielsen’s greatest racing accomplishment was winning the World Championship in 1984 with Jim Dimmerman piloting the Nielsen Enterprises Phantom to victory, a historic achievement for an independent race team that was not factory sponsored.