At long last, the 54th annual Hay Days Grass Drags and Swap Meet is almost here. The biggest event in all of snowmobiling based on attendance, Hay Days annually draws upwards of 30,000 people to a large outdoor grounds near North Branch, Minnesota, for the ultimate off-season motorhead celebration.
We’ve been watching the live webcam as track preparation and vendor setup has been going on. Team Snow Goer will be out there on Friday setting up our own display before it all gets going on Saturday morning, September 11. The event runs through late afternoon Sunday, September 12.
So what should a person check out when you’re at Hay Days? We’re glad you asked.
The 30-acre swap meet areas at Hay Days are a world all of their own. Whether you’re looking for a trailing arm for an Evolved chassis Polaris, a clutch for an old Puma or a so-called “never-raced” two-year-old race sled that clearly has not only been raced and in fact crashed, it’s all out there to be found.
And, on the same aisle where you’ll find those gems you’re likely to also see a two-stroke powered blender, some massively oversized truck tires, a classic SRV snowmobile and a clapped-out King Quad. One thing to remember: Prices in the swap meet are often just suggestions – don’t feel like you’ve got to pay full price.
As opposed to the swap meet, where seemingly anything goes, the vendor area features more legitimate, full-year businesses, where dickering on price is discouraged but you’ll be able to get everything you need for the coming season and then some from reputable firms that back-up their goods and services.
From jackets, bibs, boots, gloves, helmets, etc., to vacation rentals, snowmobile club memberships, performance parts, sled dollies, trailering accessories, custom graphics, ergonomic enhancements and much more, Haydays is typically the world of snowmobiling all condensed into one big field.
We said “typically” because this year might be a little bit different. Candidly, worldwide supply chain and shipping problems plus low carryover inventories will result in less product for sale on the grounds this year. There will still be plenty of selection, though.
On The Grass
Hay Days has long been one of snowmobile racing’s highest profile events, as racers come from far and wide to compete on the clay race surface with the most badass tracked machines anywhere.
The action between the chain-link fences is fast and furious. Historically, the Stock classes used to draw a fair amount of attention, but increasingly the biggest crowds are drawn to the fences for the most highly modified machines. If you’re a motorhead, you just haven’t lived until you’ve seen an exotic snowmobile accelerate from 0 to 150 mph in 500 feet, and cover the distance in 3.5 seconds!
Racing starts at 9 a.m. each day. The so-called Shoot-Out Classes – Outlaw and Pro Xtreme 55 – will run their finals at 3 p.m. Sunday.
More Competition, Beyond The Grass
There’s more competition and motorized action scattered throughout Hay Days grounds. The Freestyle Show area has become increasingly popular over the years. Specific shows are planned for 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. each day in the centrally located Expo 1 area.
A more recent addition has been mud bog racing. At the Expo 2 area on the far east end of the facility, you’ll get to see ATVs in various forms of modification – mild to wild – claw to the treacherous bog. The mud-slinging competition starts at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday and again at 12:45 on Sunday.
Just north of the Mud Bog will be the usual ATV/SXS demo track, and next to that the radio control (RC) track. Both sites will be rather active throughout the weekend.
At The Factory Booths
Stopping by the four huge booths of the major snowmobiling brands is an absolute must. Not only do you get to peruse the new snowmobiles (and a few ATVs, UTVs, personal watercraft, motorcycles, etc.) from the four brands, they also have other activities going on as well.
Ski-Doo’s booth is usually the most active in terms of side shows, and it looks like it will be again this year. Items on their agenda include a charitable dunk tank, T-shirt canons, temporary tattoos and educational seminars. The brand plans to unveil its 2022 MXZx RS snocross sled at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, plus has a bunch of activities planned for its ambassadors for both Ski-Doo and the new-to-North America Lynx brand.
Polaris will also have an active booth. Short seminars focused on new features and technology will be held throughout the weekend. More time-specific is the brand’s athlete and racer autograph session, which is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday.
Arctic Cat has several tricks up its sleeves as well. At this point, we don’t have complete details, but there will be a specific presentation at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. There will also be a prize wall, racer autograph session and more. Check back at this post, because we will update it with specific times of events when Arctic Cat informs us.
The Yamaha booth, at this point, is a bit of a mystery to us. Since that brand doesn’t compete in the national snocross scene, it usually doesn’t have a sled to unveil or a racer autograph session to host. However, the brand always has a spiffy booth with a variety of powersports equipment on display.
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