1977 YAMAHA 440 EXCITER
In 1971 my neighbor, Joe Stringer, bought a Yamaha GP 396. It was actually a 40-horsepower SS 433 with a 396 GP decal kit, but I ran it in Junior Class and Joe ran it in Men's Class in LeMans racing.
We ran that sled three years and never got caught, but in 1974, Joe sold the sled to a guy who promptly seized the engine, bored it 10-thou over and went one oversize. Needless to say, the piston was a little sloppy.
Joe played it coy with denial. Anyway, the guy got the correct piston in it and kept racing it as a GP 396. You kind of have to laugh about it now as, just like in NASCAR back then, there was a lot of cheating in those early days of snowmobile oval racing.
In 1976, I bought a 1974 GPX 338 but that molded rubber, cleated track was not one of Yamaha's better innovations. When those cleats started rattling out the back end at 75 mph, it ripped and twisted out the tunnel if the track derailed. I came out unscathed, but sled’s aluminum tunnel was bent and ripped to doll rags.
When I first started attending Minnesota's Hay Days Grass Drags in the mid-nineties I was on the lookout for a Yamaha 440 Exciter. I found several contenders, but their aluminum belly pans and bumpers were either twisted, bent, stretched or all three.
I ended up buying a 1973 GP 292 with 765 original miles. My first thought was to race vintage ovals with it, but when I got it home and cleaned it up, I realized it was just too nice to race so I just drove it around at vintage events all winter looking like a true Yamaha collector.
A few years back I found a 440 Exciter for sale in the vintage tent at Hay Days and it looked to be in above average condition. Unfortunately, I had no room in the trailer to bring it home and not enough cash with me so I had to walk away from that deal.
That winter I went to the Waconia Ride-In event in Waconia, Minnesota and there was that very same Exciter I walked away from at Hay Days. A few moments later I was the proud owner of a 1977 440 Exciter.
As it turned out, the sled needed a piston and rings, a carb rebuild and a carb intake boot. It took three years, but the folks at Hudon's Salvage in Barneveld, New York, tracked down an original OEM intake boot for that hateful Keihin carb.
I put more time into this project than I intended, but it was a good runner and I may have put 150 miles on the sled. Do I still own it? Nope! I met a guy looking for a 1973 292 GP to complete his collection of 1973 Yamaha sleds and he bought my Exciter and all the Yamaha parts I had collected.
More Like This
LATEST VIDEOS View All
First Ride On Taiga's New Orca PWC
August 4, 2020
COVID-19 kinda messed up our chance to evaluate Taiga's Electric snowmobiles this past spring, ...
2021 Ski-Doo Renegade X-RS 850 Walk Around Overview
April 6, 2020
We just had a brand new 2021 Renegade X-RS dropped off at our front door featuring the new ...
2020 SNOWTRAX Revolutionary Advanced Design Award Winner
April 3, 2020
AJ presents the 2020 SNOWTRAX Revolutionary Advanced Design award to the manufacturer that ...
Top Gear View All
September 9, 2020
Z1R Warrant Snow Electric Helmet
Z1R introduces the brand-new Warrant Electric Shield Snow helmet. No need for a face covering when you're sporting this new full-face ...
Ask Motorhead View All
November 15, 2020
600 EFI, 600 ETEC or 900 ACE?
Mark takes a look at which of these sleds is right for a reader...
Press Releases View All
November 23, 2020
OFSC Safeguards Trail Data to Protect Trails, Groomer Operators, Riders & Landowners
Interactive Trail Guide and Go Snowmobiling Ontario Apps Remain the Only Authorized Source For OFSC Trail Info
Tourism View All
November 1, 2020
5-STAR SLEDDING IN CHARLEVOIX
Rarely does a specific hotel earn universal recognition as a must-visit snowmobiling destination...