Twenty-two years ago this fall, a gang of snowmobile racers from the East stormed into central Minnesota and walked out with a plethora of trophies and piles of cash at the 32nd annual Hay Days Grass Drags and Swap Meet in Columbus Township, Minnesota.
A peek back at the issue of Snow Week magazine that covers the event reveals how big Haydays had become and how important grass drag racing was in the late 1990s, as driver entries topped 850 and racers came from 19 states and provinces to compete. There were even entries from Scandinavia.
What follows are the “lead” paragraphs to the extremely detailed, 10-page story on Haydays in the September 28, 1998 issue of Snow Week magazine. The issue also covers Dave Trystad’s victory at the fourth annual BIR Asphalt Shootout in Minnesota and the highly competitive action at the Fenwick Grass Drags in Ontario. If you want a copy of the entire issue, we’ve got five left — and they are for sale on the Snow Goer Store website.
Now, on to the Snow Week story — and make sure to check out the full race results box at the bottom to find some of the great names of grass drag racing in its haydays (pun intended).
Eastern Racers Red Hot At Steamy Haydays
Sept. 12-13, 1998/Columbus Township, Minnesota/Staff Report
The annual Haydays event has become many things. It is snowmobiling’s largest swap meet; it is “the unofficial start of winter;” it is the world’s biggest snowmobile show; and, by the way, it is also a monstrous grass drag race.
While it is somewhat controversial every year (and what major racing event isn’t), Haydays has become an international meeting place, a battleground where racers from different brands and geographic regions find out once-and-for-all who has the best “stuff.”
Racers came from 19 states, several Canadian provinces and Sweden, and tens of thousands of fans drove in from just about as far for the 32nd annual Haydays in Columbus Township just north of Lino Lake, Minnesota. Driver entries topped 850 and some individual classes included nearly 50 participants.
Yes, there were some squabbles — several Michigan and East Coast drivers felt Midwestern drivers were given certain advantages by race officials. But in the end, the big checks were being hauled east on Interstate 94 and headed for the bank accounts of racers who frequent the PRO and RACE circuits of New York, New England and Ontario.
In the Stock classes, New Jersey’s Ingrid Nelson used a fleet of Bender Racing Yamahas to barely hold off New Hampshire’s Ski-Doo hotshoe Bill Bickford for the High Points title. Nelson also won High Point honors for the event, earning her the traveling Minnesota Cup trophy. Meanwhile, New Yorkers Greg Roes and Nick Washburn of D&D Powersports also scored big victories, earning the Stock A and Stock F titles, respectively, for Cat.
Bickford got his redemption in Improved Stock, where he added two victories and grabbed a High Points title of his own.
In Pro Stock, the Eastern domination continued when Marc Gelormini of the New Hampshire-based daSilva Racing Team edge Pro Stock stallion Craig Marchbank for the division’s High Point title.
Only in the Mod classes did a SWDRA regular win one for the home team. SPC-owner Dean Schroeder was his usual dominant self, winning 6 of 10 Mod classes and High Point titles in both Heavy Mod and Open Mod. He then added an exclamation point by putting 117.2 on the Snow Week/Radar Sales scoreboard, earning the Wisconsin-based engine guru an extra $1,000 in pocket change for posting the fast speed of the day.
It was a particularly dusty Haydays, as nearly a month had passed since substantial rainfall had dampened the racesite in Minneapolis’ far northern suburbs. The issue was further aggravated by unseasonably warm temperatures that soared into the high 80s Saturday and low 90s on Sunday beneath bright blue skies and heavy, thick air.
Such parched conditions made track management particularly difficult — although it still held up well considering all of the studded tracks that were scratching at its surface all weekend. The host Sno-Barons snowmobile club did their usual commendable job managing the huge event, and the Southern Wisconsin Drag Racing Association (SWDRA) crew had the event running like clockwork both days.