Woody’s is arguably the most recognizable name in snowmobile traction products. Founded by James Musselman and Woody Kozlow back in the 1960s, the company has been heavily into racing from its inception. Based in Hope, Michigan, the Woody’s Race Program Coordinator is a guy named Rick Tiede. It’s not too many years ago Rick was racing Semi-Pro snocross, so he’s not some desk jockey who doesn’t know a stud from a roofing nail. Always smiling and always happy to talk to anyone who approaches him, Rick is also leading a groundswell of new support for the Soo I-500. We checked in with him to find out what you need to do to get sponsorship, why track patterns are important and why Woody’s is offering more support than ever.
sledRacer.com: You came from the ranks of racers, what is it like being on the other side?
Rick Tiede: Absolutely awesome, I’ve grown up in the snowmobile industry and honestly there isn’t anywhere else I’d rather work. Coming from a racing background has definitely helped me better myself as a race director though; I know what it takes to make the relationship from sponsor to racer happen from both sides.
sR: Woody’s has been in the traction and snowmobile racing business a long time, does it ever get old for people in the company?
Tiede: Woody’s is a family-owned company that basically started in racing over 40 years ago. Everyone here is truly passionate about racing, and it shows as we have one of the largest most successful race programs in the industry.
sR: One race you’ve supported more as of late is the Soo I-500, why?
Tiede: We have always supported the Soo I-500; it’s honestly where the racing at Woody’s all started. The Musselman family grew up racing Enduros and Drags here in Michigan and did extremely well. There are a few old I-500 trophies floating around here at the office, but as far as the recent increase in added support – that has stemmed from everyone here wanting to help bring back the Soo back to the forefront of snowmobile racing and show how prestigious an event it really is. And its working!
sR: There is a ton more interest in that race in the past few years, why do you think it’s coming back?
Tiede: It’s a great race to showcase your products at, whether it’s the sled, fuel, oil, or traction products. Winning or making it through a grueling 500 laps on a track that gets to be pretty insane is definitely something to brag about.
sR: With the economy down, where do you see snowmobile racing going in the next few years?
Tiede: Of course, everyone had to tighten up the last few years with the big economic hit on the industry, but things have definitely been on a rise the past few years. We understand that its not just sponsors that have to tighten up but racers alike, so we have definitely been trying to do as much sponsorship as we can these past few years. From our end things should only continue to get better as the years roll on!
sR: I know you’re backing a Soo team and have put together a talented group of riders including guys like Justin Tate. Would you like to see racing move more toward what Tate is doing where a rider goes cross-country racing one weekend, races snocross the next and hits an enduro here and there? Or do you think snowmobile racing will remain a sport where riders specialize in one genre such as snocross?
Tiede: I would absolutely encourage racers to get on the multiple forms of racing kick. It allows the racer to get a taste of all forms of racing, broadens not only their knowledge of the sport but also allows them to get their sponsors in front of a variety of crowds and racers. If a guy like Tate can race snocross, cross-country, and oval enduros anyone can do it! Seriously though, we never know what’s going to happen in this industry so being able to adapt to all forms of racing just makes a racer that much more valuable to a sponsor. Levi LaVallee is another perfect example how a rider can diversify his program and make it successful.
sR: If I’m a racer, what is the best way to get support from Woody’s?
Tiede: We try to make it easy for both new and past sponsored riders to get a hold of me for sponsorship. You can do that by filling out our race application online at www.WoodysTraction.com or give me a call at 989-689-4911.
sR: What are some things you look for when you consider sponsoring racers beyond a product or discount level?
Tiede: Every racer wants to be the “factory” guy for us at Woody’s, but the teams and racers that set themselves apart are the ones that go above and beyond putting a sticker on their truck, trailer, and sled. It’s the Steve Scheurings of the sport who get us involved with the Air Force or Makita and into the Power Tool shows across America. It’s the Levi LaVallees who have open door policies for fans that make him the “Fan Favorite” every year. It’s the 4-Time World Champions like PJ Wanderscheid. And it’s the guys that not only help sell Woody’s parts by doing all these things but the racers and teams like Tim Bender, Malcolm Chartier, or Craig Marchbank that have actually helped create, test and prove some of the best products we sell today.
sR: What is something a racer should know about traction but probably doesn’t?
Tiede: The biggest thing that racers tend to overlook is their track patterns. Track patterns can truly make or break all forms of racing. We spend a ton of time creating different patterns for all forms of racing, from drag patterns with too many scratch lines to count, to oval sprint patterns that help riders to break the back end loose with controlled slip, all the way to balanced patterns for cross country races so when they get on the throttle coming out of a left or right hander they aren’t going to spin because we all know spin is just time wasted.
sR: What is the best part of your job?
Tiede: Best part of my job has to be getting on the road and attending every top snowmobile event in the country, from snow shows to the X Games. I’ve had the privilege of making what is most peoples joy and hobby a profession, you can’t beat hanging out and working side by side with some of the industry’s most influential people and getting paid for it! Also thanks to my job I’ve made some great friends all across the country.
sR: Is there anything new we can we expect to see from Woody’s this year?
Tiede: R&D is one of the big factors that separate Woody’s from the rest of the snowmobile traction industry. We are always working on something new and improved, we definitely have some industry changing news to release this season but you’ll have to stay checked into the website and snowmobile events for that release. Also we have yet again came out with a really cool clothing line so be sure to check that out online, the new Woody’s Wear is top notch!