For fans who didn't get enough drag racing during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway last weekend there's another chance this weekend.
The Crow Wing County Fairgrounds will be the site of the second annual Race of Champions Grass Drags and Swap Meet where snowmobiles will reach speeds nearing 100 mph racing each other on a 500-foot track. The event is sanctioned by the National Snowmobile Racing Association and presented by the Brainerd Snodeos, Baxter Snowmobile Club, C and L Distributing and brainerddispatch.com.
"For 500 feet you're getting there pretty quick," said six-year veteran racer Katrina Welch of Nisswa.
Racers line up four abreast and also will pin their machine's throttles on a rebuilt starting line.
Race representative Lisa Skogen said Wednesday, "Racers have tested it and said (the track) was fabulous."
Welch, who raced a Polaris to the Improved 600 points title last year, concurred. "(Club members) really did some work on it to make it better this year," she said.
Skogen said the first 100 feet of the grass track is "virgin" clay.
Last year there were a few rocks at the line, Skogen said. "For the most part it wasn't really that bad considering it was a new track," she said.
Skogen also said that between races, club members were picking out the rocks.
Welch said because it was so dry last year the track was dusty and the starting line was getting chewed up.
Skogen said the former berms used when the fairgrounds hosted ice oval snowmobile racing also have been removed this year which revamped the staging area.
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday; gates open at 9 a.m.
Where: Crow Wing County Fairgrounds
Regarding staging, racers will get their sleds ready to race or stage with a Professional or .400 Christmas tree similar to the one used at BIR. With this tree, the three amber lights illuminate at the same instant with the green light illuminating 4/10ths of a second later.
And, yes, racers can have staging battles. They can choose to roll their sled into the beams until the lights come on or roll even further. The latter has the advantage that they are closer to the finish line but are also close to foul starting or red lighting (leaving the line before the green light is activated).
Welch, who won the Stock 440, Stock 500 and Improved Stock 600 finals one day in the event last year, said the staging area is 12 inches.
She said she can move up further because she knows she won't red light.
Welch said a few Ski Doos allow the racer to pin the throttle and not move right away. "They just have that (right clutch)," she said.
A .401 is a perfect reaction time. Welch said she has cut .430s and .500s.
Unfortunately, she won't be able to cut those kind of lights this weekend. Her sleds aren't race ready because she crashed earlier this season.
"We're really upset we're missing it," she said.
Welch won't be the only professional racer absent. The list includes Brainerd's Chad Erlandson, a grass drags veteran, who is taking a year off, and Guy Parquette, a frequent winner on his Factory Ski Doo.
Racers who were pre-registered as of Wednesday included Mike Golaski on a Ski Doo, Brian Talty on a Polaris and Yamaha's Pat Hauck.
In last year's event, Golaski won one race, Talty won five races and Hauck won two finals.
The event also is the first of five NSRA races this season. Unlike last year when Brainerd's race followed the 10th annual Outlaw Grass Drags at Princeton, this year Princeton's event follows Brainerd.
clint wood can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5869.
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