With this year’s Hay Days Grass Drags and Swap Meet fast approaching, let’s flash back to a time when the event was important but not the circus that it has been since the mid 1990s.
Captured in a relatively short story in Snow Week magazine in the fall of 1985, the Haydays held on September 8 of that year was certainly important, but at 4,500 people and less than 200 driver entries it was a fraction of its current appeal. Still, the best of the best showed up to settle scores on a grass strip behind a dealership near Forest Lake, Minnesota.
Below is the complete story from 1985, written by the famous Wayne Davis – still the No. 1 photographer in the snowmobile business and a proud partner of our’s at Snow Goer. FYI, the same issue of Snow Week features news of the Decker family buying the Eagle River Derby Track, an interview with Smilin’ Jim Bernat and an interview with Bob Faist, who was called “The ‘Don’ of Snowmobile’s Winningest Drag Racing Family.”
Forest Lake SWDRA Grass Drags
Sno-Barons 19th Annual Hayday Race
Race Reports by Wayne Davis; Photos by Davis and C.J. Ramstad
The snowmobile season started with a zoom in Minnesota as 4,500 people watched the 19th annual Sno-Baron’s Hayday Race and Minnesota Cup Championship in Forest Lake, Minnesota, on September 8. Conditions were ideal for racing as the 750 foot grass drag strip was slightly wet keeping dust down and speeds up.
Just under 200 entries competed head to head under guidance of the SWDRA race officials and starting gates were high tech with electronic timers to showing finish and speed in each of the five lanes.
First racing of the day was the Juniors class. All four classes were dominated by two brothers from Dakota, lllinois, Brent and Kerry Schlueter. The sons of Perry Schleuter, they both have their father’s competitive spirit and put on fierce battles with their Yamahas. Kerry had the most points for the overall points prize, but in a true show of sportsmanship he asked that the award go to his brother.
In the stock classes, machines of all brands were on hand to battle for top honors. Tom Gara brought a whole trailer load of sleds from New Berlin, Wisconsin and had them set up very well. The ImprovedStock class is for stock snowmobiles with some small modifications allowed to clutches and motors. Larry Faist and the rest of Team Faist from Freeport, Illinois, had a great day with their Scorpion. This race team always does well through teamwork of the entire family, resulting in Hi Point Stock honors this weekend.
On the way, Larry had some tough drivers to complete against there were some close races with Art Van Meter, David Groth and Tom Gara.
The Kitty Kat race that is run every year at the Sno-Baron’s race is a fun addition to the day’s activities and provides some great memories for a half a dozen young drivers and a lot of smiling faces from spectators, too.
Larry Faist brought out his SRX to win Mod Stock I and II and finish a close second behind Brian Lamp, who brought his Arctic Cat all the way from De Motte, Indiana, to edge Faist out for the win in Mod Stock III.
Perry Schlueter started his winning ways by snagging the win in Mod Stock IV in a close battle with Norman Ball’s Mercury and Stan Erdmann’s Yamaha, The same three finished in identical order in the Mod Stock V class.
The Mod Stock classes brought out some of the best technology available from the snowmoble industry. Chuck Decker was spotted lending a hand with Anderson Racing Crew trying out a three-cylinder Ski-Doo motor in a special drag chassis.
In the Mod classes, Dean Schroeder won both Mod 340 and 400 edging out Larry Faist, Robert Walline and Mike Neuman. Stan Erdmann was another double winner dominating the Mod 440 and 540 over tough drivers like Perry Schlueter, Jeff Ludwig and Paul Siniawski.
The temperature was dropping as the rain clouds were right over head as the mods came out and the cool moist air helped Norman Ball’s three-cylinder Mercury. Ball dominated the 600 and Open Mod. Ball hit top speed of the day at 98 MPH to win the Pepsi Fast Time Trophy.
Perry Schlueter again was the winner of the Minnesota Cup. Perry “puts it all” into his summer grass drag racing. Perry is a dairy farmer and he is too busy in the winter months to devote his time to racing.
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