The Blue Bippy's
Courtesy of Eric Mersnick
Alaska Marine was a Glastron/Sno-Jet distributor in Anchorage during the 60’s and 70’s. My father, Al Mersnick, was asked to join their race team after a successful 69 season aboard a 69 TNT 669. For the next 3 years, he and his fellow Blue Bippy’s (so named in 71 after a slang term for your butt) tore through the Alaskan countryside to many strong finishes in some of the toughest events the sport had ever seen.
The race scene at the time was dominated by cross country events with more than a dozen alone in the Anchorage area, including the infamous Midnight Sun 600. Oval racing was primarily confined to USSA/AMMC point racing (cc/drag/oval) and an end of the year finale at the KHAR Invitational. Machines rode by the Bippy’s included GT’s of several sizes including an 800 triple, SS Jets fitted with pipes and GT seats, and SST’s with similar treatments.
The 71 Thunder Jet pictured below belonged to my dad and the only one around at the time. Bought from Sno-Jet for $1500 under the condition that only AM/BB mechanics could work on it and that it would be sold back at the end of the season. Dad received a stipend of $1000 to go towards parts, labor, etc, and it was off to the races! Despite its characteristic handling issues, the machine performed well at the track with many podium appearances at AMMC events and a top 5 finish of the KHAR finale.
On the limited long-haul cross country duty it saw, it proved a bit fragile for the abuse with DNF’s in the Big Lake 500 and Talkentna 250. On the drag strip though… watch out!
At seasons end it was bought back by AM and later sold to one of their mechanics and its fate is unknown. The air force sent our family to Florida and the end of the 72 season and that was the end of dad’s time as a Sno-Jet pilot. How much longer the Blue Bippy’s existed after that I don’t know. Many of them were also air force personnel who are never in one place for too long. But for that period of time, their “squadron” served well on the Alaskan Front.
See the photos below for all kinds of great information on the early racing in Alaska. Thanks Eric!