Forty six years ago, the big-time Polaris factory race team was headed into the 1972 race season with the brand new Polaris Starfire.
It wasn’t the best race season for the ‘Boys in blue’, but it wasn’t the worst either. Bob Eastman, Larry Rugland, Dorothy Mercer and the rest of the team did fairly well.
Yet when I was working on the book, I found that getting any photos from the 1972 race season to be very difficult. There just were not many to be found in any of the magazines or newspapers of the time.
I happened to mention that to Larry Rugland while interviewing him, and he told me there was a valid reason why there were so few photos of the 1972 race team.
“Polaris corporate cut the advertising budgets, and the magazines all got hit pretty hard. They sort of retaliated by not highlighting our wins or printing our pictures. The following year the budget went up, and you have no trouble finding photos from 1973 right?”
He was right. 1973 photos were relatively easy to come by.
I asked a couple publishers from the back in the day and they didn’t exactly agree with Reverend Rugland – but they didn’t deny it either.
“I’d be willing to say we gave preference to the manufacturers who were buying ads” one of them told me on the condition of anonymity. “But it wasn’t on purpose. Subconsciously, we probably just wanted to help those who were helping us.”
Even to this day, when I find someone posted a grainy, not so great photo from 1972 on the internet, I get a little excited – because I know we are not likely to see a whole lot more.