Ted Otto

DATE OF INDUCTION: JANUARY 13, 2005
CAREER SPAN: 1965-2005

BRANDS REPRESENTED: Polaris & Yamaha
AGE AT INDUCTION: 64

Ted Otto began racing motorcycles on the West Coast in the early 1960’s, winning an AMA class championship in 1964 before racing snowmobiles in the Western Snowmobile Association. Always ready to pitch in, Otto took a position on the board of WSA and worked on publicity and race promotion for the association. In a move previewing what would become his signature skill, he served as flagman at many early western races.

While working with WSA in West Yellowstone in 1966, he met members of senior management from Polaris and was hired as the company’s first advertising and public relations manager. Moving to the Midwest, Ted joined the board of the United States Snowmobile Association and suggested the Polaris Thrill Team in 1968, a team he was also part of as a member. During his time at Polaris, he introduced leather suits, protective riding gear and the tether kill switch to snowmobile racing.

Hired to manage advertising and public relations by Yamaha in 1971, Otto moved to California where he worked to bring NBC-TV to the Eagle River Derby and served as color commentator at the famous track. An announcer at Ascot Park starting in the 1980’s, Ted also teamed up with ESPN and ran his own company, Ted Otto Productions. A man who will forever be recognized as the bareheaded flagman who furled the flag at the Eagle River Derby and many other USSA tracks, he stands out as one of a handful of snowmobiling originals.