Gone But Not Forgotten
In spring of 2007, Snowmobiling lost a true legend. CJ Ramstad and his son, JJ, were both taken in a fatal head-on car crash west of Minneapolis. Recognized as the dean of snowmobile photojournalism, CJ began his career in the sport in 1969 when he began writing advertising for snowmobiles at an ad agency in Minneapolis.
CJ quickly moved to the magazine side of the business, first taking pictures and writing articles for Snowmobile Times, Snowmobile News and SNOWGOER, before founding his first magazine – SNOWWEEK – in 1973.
Working as an editor and reporter throughout the 1970s, CJ was on the scene during the Sno Pro factory racing era, the golden years of the Winnipeg 500 and factory cross-country racing. He penned many of the classic history, technical and racing articles of the early SNOW WEEK after selling the title to SNOW GOER IN 1976. He wrote his first book, The Collected Works of Pappy, in 1979 before being named editor of SNOWMOBILE MAGAZINE in 1980.
CJ edited SNOWMOBILE and, again briefly in the mid 1980s, SNOW WEEK, before leaving the magazines to write Legend, the history of Arctic Cat, and Of Ice and Engines, the history of the Eagle River Derby, both in 1987.
In 1988, CJ became the editor and publisher of MINNESOTA SNOWMOBILING and took on the task of coordinating the legendary Jeep 500 cross-country snowmobile race. In 1991, he became co-publisher of what has become the world’s largest snowmobile magazine – SUPERTRAX – and in 1999, he wrote a second edition of Legend to reflect the Arctic Cat brand’s first four decades.
Spanning nearly four decades, CJ’s photo archives grew and expanded to represent snowmobiling’s most complete image collection. In addition to literally hundreds of thousands of pictures shot by him personally, he added several photo collections from other sources to build an unparalleled historical archive. Known as the sport’s most active photojournalist, CJ shot pictures in every U.S. snowbelt state, captured images in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Chile, Japan and Iceland as well as all across Canada during his long and busy career.
CJ was nearly finished writing his fifth book, the story of Ralph Plaisted’s successful journey over the icecap to the North Pole, the snowmobile trek that made him the first-ever to reach the fabled and elusive spot at the top of the world. The book was compiled by Keith Pickering and published in the spring of 2012 by Keith and CJ’s wife Karla, with contributions coming from their daughter Marly.
CJ’s work as a photojournalist was unprecedented and his archives of photos are a treasured legacy reaching back to the very beginning of the snowmobile industry. The legend will press on as new images from the thousands of photos found in CJ’s photo archives will continue to appear daily on SNOWPOD.COM.
If you have a special picture or a comment you would like to share with CJ’s family, e-mail them at email@example.com.