In most ways, it’s hard to believe that 1996 is a full quarter-century in the rear-view mirror; in other ways, the incredible glory days of grass drag racing (particularly in the stock classes) seems like even longer ago.
We were reliving some great memories of that era in the last couple of days when putting five glorious old Snow Week issues up on the Snow Goer Store website for sale. We opened previously unopened packages we received from the printer way back then and found eight copies each of September through December issues from 1996 — and lost ourselves in the memories.
Issue No. 3 includes coverage of a dusty drag in Eagle River, Wisconsin, where a bunch of top-named racers went somewhat rogue and started turning on each other in post-race tech — somewhat breaking an unwritten code. The issue also includes coverage of the huge grass drag in Fenwick, Ontario, that year, plus breaking news that Champ 440 would be replacing Formula I as the World Championship class in ovals. Oddly, the main image on the cover features Craig Marchbank, who now is a part-owner of the Derby facility in Eagle River.
Issue No. 4 covered the huge Haydays Grass Drags, which that year had more than 800 driver entries and a crowd that topped 50,000 people! This was the same Haydays where Ski-Doo flew in their new snocross sled dangling from the bottom of a helicopter, Tom Martin set a blistering top speed and a horrific-looking crash involving two top mod racers caused a review of safety rules. Coverage of an early NSSR asphalt drag and a profile on Dave Trygstad are also in the issue.
Issue No. 5 picks up the post Haydays action with some huge races — including the Snow Bash in New York, the MSDRA Thunder Bay Shootout in Michigan, where the famous Chris Riley (now of Super Sled Online fame) covered the race, competed in a couple of classes and had his camera equipment swiped! Now that’s a memorable weekend! Speaking of memories, the issue also features an extensive interview with Bobby Donahue, reliving some of his cherished racing memories.
Issue No. 6 features a snocross racer on the cover, but the actual issue covers many facets of sled racing. The cover boy his Nathan Titus – then a confident 22 year old taking to the world of terrain racing as he emerged from the reputation of being Jack Struthers protege. Race coverage in the keepsake issue includes the NY State Championships in Marilla, New York, and the Michigan Cup in Onsted, Michigan, and a wrap-up of that year’s watercross season on the IWA.
We then skipped ahead to Issue No. 9, which featured some of the first winter racing action of the season with Brad Pake’s narrow victory in the star-studded Pine Lake 200 and a MRP snocross at Dresser, Wisconsin, where class winners included guys like Aaron Scheele and Per Berggren (Pro classes), Tim Maki and Carl Schubitzke (Semi-Pro classes) and DJ Eckstrom (Sport classes).
Editor’s Note: This review was originally published in the October 2020 issue of Snow Goer. Every issue of Snow Goer magazine includes in-depth sled reports and comparisons, aftermarket gear and accessories reviews, riding destination articles, do-it-yourself repair information, snowmobile technology and more! Subscribe to Snow Goer now to receive issues delivered to your door or your computer for a low cost.