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Local motorsport leader passes away

Provided photo Jack Poynter (left) recently passed away. Here his is with his wife Cheri Poynter (right) at their Auto Dealership between Houghton and Chassell.

One of the leaders in the infancy of different forms of motorsports passed away last weekend in Jack Poynter. Poynter was instrumental in more than the growth of snowmobiling in the Copper Country, but other forms of motorsports.

Poynter purchased Dan’s Auto Sales from Don Meyer in 1973.

However Poynter’s entrance into “motor” sports actually started with his connection to the sport of football and, in particular, the Minnesota Vikings.

With the company that Poynter was loyal to, Polaris, being based out of Minnesota, his passion joined up with his work as Polaris was a sponsor of the Vikings.

“That is how he (Poynter) got involved, way, way back. That is the connection to get him started,” said Jerry Korinek.

Korinek was a former Sales Manager for the RL Ryerson Company. The Ryerson Company was the Polaris wholesaler for much of the Upper Peninsula, Wisconsin, and Northern Illinois.

Vikings football player Bob Lurtsma, who Poynter was a friend of, got into racing Polaris snowmobiles in the cross country venue. This also directed Poynter into a loyal relationship with the company.

“After his stint with the Vikings, Jack got into the car business. Then he contacted John Fiebelkorn, Polaris VP of Sales, about getting Polaris. He (Fiebelkorn) told him that this was the Ryerson territory. He got hold of me, and the rest is history,” said Korinek.

Poynter built the Dan’s Polaris dealership into the biggest U.P. Polaris dealership in the Ryerson territory, a dealership that saw snowmobile sales hit over 160 units a year. This put Poynter and Dan’s Polaris into the ranks of not only the biggest in the U.P., but one of the biggest in the entire Ryerson district.

In the mid-1980s, Poynter joined with Don Kaupie and Steve Gagnon to hold the Superior Snow Challenge, based upon the Press on Regardless (POR) off-road race.

“We had a lot of help from people to put on the Superior Snow Challenge. I remember when Neil Marrieta Sr. raced a 340 (cc) in it,” said Cheri Poynter, Jack’s wife.

Poynter’s love for motorsports and Polaris expanded in the mid-80s when Polaris came out with ATVs. His Atlantic Mine dealership stuck with Polaris when the Roseau, Minnesota, Company went into personal watercraft sales.

Both Jack and Cheri Poynter brought personal watercraft (PWC) racing to Bridgefest. Unlike the dominant market share that Poynter developed with Polaris snowmobiles in the Copper Country, Poynter took on the local and national PWC market leader, Kawasaki Jet Ski.

Going up against Everts Motor Sales and Kawasaki did not deter Poynter from wanting to build the PWC sport in the area, like he had done with snowmobiles and ATV’s.

Poynter believed in Trails and Recreation Alliance of Land and the Upper Peninsula (TRALE-UP) when that organization started to work on ATV trails in 1991. This led Poynter into supporting Mi-TRALE which started in 2001, and the Keweenaw ATV Club, which started in 2005.

Poynter’s loyalty to Polaris and off road motorsports expanded into “on-road” motorsports when Dan’s Polaris was the first Victory motorcycle dealer in the entire western Upper Peninsula in 1999.

Eventually Poynter would come full circle and sell his Polaris dealership and return to what he had begun in, Auto Sales. However his love for Polaris and the motorsport industry never ended. Jack opened a snowmobile rental business in Hancock called Dan’s Recreation.

“We will continue to have the snowmobile rental business. Our daughter Tammi will be running this,” said Cheri.

Even at Dan’s Recreation, where they will continue to rent snowmobiles, provide clothing, parts and service, guess which brand they will continue to rent out? Polaris, of course.

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