Ski Whiz Snow Show

Massey collectors showcase the Ski Whiz snowmobiles.

| February 2006

When a hardy band of vintage snowmobile enthusiasts gather for their second-ever exhibition this February, they'll have fingers crossed for a critical ingredient: snow. 

At the first-ever Ski Whiz snowmobile exhibition held last February in Bellechester, Minn. (just southeast of Minneapolis), unseasonably warm weather had melted the local snow base. But a 40-degree day and dry pavement did little to melt spirits at the event.

An occasional Ski Whiz will turn up at Massey tractor shows, but until last February, there'd never been anything like a Ski Whiz convention. Collectors Joe and Jo-Jo Poncelet, Bellechester, and Steve and Sandy Miller, Atwater, Minn., decided it was time the Ski Whiz had its own show. The two couples spent a year planning the event they christened "Whiz-N-Day." Sponsored by the Massey Collectors Association and hosted by the Poncelets, the event drew aficionados from Illinois, Iowa and Minnesota.

Whiz-N-Day is believed to be the first antique snowmobile exhibition featuring a specific brand. The Ski Whiz snowmobile was produced by the Massey Ferguson tractor company from 1969 to 1978 during the heyday of snowmobile manufacturing. At that time, as many as 170 U.S. companies manufactured snowmobiles; today fewer than six are still in production. Thirty-five years ago, Massey Ferguson dealerships were a familiar part of rural America, and the Ski Whiz thrived by extension.

Joe has had a lifelong interest in the brand: His dad, Milton Poncelet, was a Massey dealer. The Ski Whiz is at the heart of some of Joe's fondest memories. Today he has a collection of 30 Ski Whiz snowmobiles and some 40 tractors made under the various Massey names and their forerunner, Wallis. Active in the Massey Collectors Association, Joe and Jo-Jo have attended tractor shows all over the U.S. and Canada, and will host the 2006 Massey Reunion June 15-17.

Joe and his brother, Dan, operate Poncelet Metals in Bellechester (population 150), and that's where the first Whiz-N-Day was held in 2005. Thanks to a string of unseasonably warm Minnesota winter days, Dan was forced to fill their lot with the only snow he could find: a pile he'd generated while plowing the previous weekend.