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Hay Days 2014 Retrospective: Truly Bigger & Better


(9/22/2014)

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The 2014 Sno-Baron's Hay Day's snowmobile event in North Branch, Minn. was SO big, it's taken me two weeks to decompress, download pix and make sense of what I saw.

I've heard estimates that the total human turnout exceeded 60,000. I don't know the actual number, but from what I saw it surely appeared that this was a record-breaking year for attendance.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

One person who paid his $20 to see the show was Waiting For Winter Guy.

 

Arctic Cat Waiting for Winter Guy. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

WFG signed autograph-postcards, posters and posed for photos with fans. He was definitely a hit at the Arctic Cat booth.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

History pretty much dictates that Arctic Cat will unveil a new SOMETHING at Hay Days.

Two covered sleds sandwiched between the I-500 cross-country winning sleds of (L-to-R) Brian Nelson's 1978 El Tigre Cross-Country, Kirk Hibbert's 1990 EXT Special, Brad Pake's 1995 ZR 440 and Brian Dick's 2014 ZR6000R gave a big hint as to what people should have expected.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Hay Days offers a smorgaspord of things to see, but it's always the people who interest me the most. For people who work or race in the industry, Hay Days is the place where a lot of business kicks-off for the season.

Above, Team Arctic Race Manager Mike Kloety (black shorts) poses with Shawn Hopkins and Team Arctic snocrosser Megan Campbell (right), while Arctic Cat engineer (and Team Arctic cross-country racer) Joe Wood bombs the background.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

It's always good to see Doug Hanson, aka the Arctic Cat Kid, at Hay Days. Doug was sporting a sweet Brian Sturgeon Black Magic shirt from 1994, and telling stories about T/S Racing.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Arctic Cat personnel are out in full-force at Hay Days, offering Cat riders a chance to talk with the very people who engineer the machines that we ride.

Russ Ebert (left) has engineered more chassis and component designs than you can shake a stick at, while Greg Spaulding (right) has designed and managed two lifetimes worth of engines and technologies.

From what I've been told, no other brand can claim to have engineers in their Hay Days booth. For sure not in the numbers and accessibility that Arctic Cat offers.

That's pretty dang cool!

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

In addition to engineers, there are racers (like World Champ Gary Moyle in the camo shirt) and industry dudes (Jeff Fischer of Sledhead 24/7 on right) who catch up, talk smack and otherwise enjoy themselves in the Cat booth.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Apparently Arctic Cat engineers (L-to-R) Adam Krone, Blake Schoh (front) and Dan Gilbert think that the ONLY pix I ever take of them are when they're sitting and talking at Arctic Cat, so they begged and pleaded with me to take a picture of them actually next to a snowmobile.

Honestly, these guys work 12-18 hours a day, seven days a week.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Team Arctic snocrosser Logan Christian (right) throws a nervous smile at Doug Braswell (left), Arctic Cat Director of Snowmobile Engineering, while engineer Lynn Berberich observes the situation.

Braswell only LOOKS like he's going to pound my skull into the ground. Moments after this photo was taken, he gave me a big hug.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Hundreds of fans came to see the 1pm unveiling. Judging from conversations beforehand with a dozen or so people, half were expecting a new 800 C-TEC2 sled while the other half were expecting a new race sled.

Those who said "race sled" were correct.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

With a poster depicting the upcoming USXC I-500 from Winnipeg to Willmar, as well as past Arctic Cat I-500 champs, it was clear that the company was flexing its cross-country racer.

There is huge interest in the I-500 this year, due largely to the fact that it's going point-to-point, and because the rules mean that the sleds will be EFI and oil-injected.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Prior to unveiling, Joey Hallstrom (left) and Brian Dick talked about Arctic Cat's commitment to all forms of racing, as well as the special emphasis placed on XC for this coming season.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

After the unveil, Team Arctic racers from all disciplines gathered for the Annual autograph session, with free posters available to the hundreds of fans who wanted them.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Hillclimbers/back-country riders David McClure (right) and Rob Kincaid were the luckiest guys in the autograph session, simply because they got to sit with Jolene Bute, the winningest woman in cross-country.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Zach (right) and Nick Pattyn (middle) are back on Cat for snocross this season!

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Factory Team Arctic's Cody Thomsen (left) was there, as was Trent Wittwer (middle) and Hunter Houle (right). Wittwer and Houle are two future stars for Team Arctic.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Engineer/racer Brian Dick was a popular guy at Hay Days, getting asked LOTS of questions about the new ZR 6000R XC and SX race sleds that were unveiled.

Again, it's pretty dang cool that the defending I-500 champ is also the engineer responsible for these sleds AND that he's available for anyone to chat with at Hay Days.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Rob Kincaid and Dave McClure spent the week prior to Hay Days at Speedwerx, building and prepping their backcountry sleds for this coming season. When Kincaid fired-up his on Saturday afternoon, the sound and smell were a nice dose of thunder that reminded everyone the thrill of what's to come this season.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Elsewhere that weekend, people were going hundred miles per hour talking, negotiating, planning and catching up. In the FOX SHOX booth, Rick Strobel (left) and Mark Larson (right) were chatting with Chris Carlson of Sportech...

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

...while a few feet away, the retro-themed FOX dudes were getting their '70s groove going with Kirk Hibbert's '93 ZR 440.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Tom Rowland measures the excitement level of friend Paul Hein. The tape measure's 27.75 in. indicated that Paul is VERY fired-up about the coming season.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Vendor row was hopping with an intensity that I haven't seen in a long while at Hay Days. Two consecutive damn-good winters throughout most of North America have lifted our spirits.

The folks at Country Cat were taking the measure of this goodwill in their busy booth on Saturday.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Brian Nelson (left) of USXC chats with David Klaus (second from left) of Briggs & Stratton and Joey Hallstrom (right) about the growth of the Briggs 206 engine program for racing.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Jeremy (left) and Steve (center) Houle of Speedwerx made plans for the upcoming season with Arctic Cat Mountain Team engineer Troy Halvorson (right). Speedwerx works closely with Arctic Cat on a lot of projects, from mountain sleds to race sleds to Briggs-engine-equipped 120s.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

I snuck over to the drag strip for an hour or so on Saturday, where Team Arctic racers were tearing up the place.

 

Team Arctic Cat's Dylan Roes. D&D Racing. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

As usual, the D&D crew were out in force at Hay Days, with Dylan Roes doing far more than his share of winning. When the results were tallied, the team hauled away some heavy hardware, including:

600 stock - 4th place Dylan Roes (6000 El tigre)
800 stock - 2nd place Dylan Roes (XF 8000 Cross-Country)
Open stock - 1st place Dylan Roes (XF 8000 Cross-Country)
800 improved - 1st place Dylan Roes (XF 8000 Cross-Country)
800 pro mod - 2nd place Jeff Marks (XF 8000 Cross-Country)
Improve stock turbo - 1st Dave Morris (XF 9000 Cross-Country)
Lake racer - 1st Aaron Casler (XF 9000 Cross-Country)
Outlaw power adder - 1st Kelly Shilts (XF 9000 Cross-Country)

 

Team Arctic Cat's Dylan Roes. D&D Racing. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Proof that ArcticInsider can pry, conjole and beg for decal placement on winning sleds of many racers'! This is the Arctic Cat ZR 6000 El Tigre that Dylan Roes will compete on this season.

 

Team Arctic Cat's Dylan Roes. D&D Racing. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Despite running the sled for the first time at Hay Days, Dylan and the D&D team were in the hunt for the 600 Stock class win. Here he launches off the line in a heat race...

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

...moments later, Al Shimpa (Left, Team Arctic Drag Racing Coordinator) looks at Dylan's result with Dale Roes of D&D.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Dylan won the heat with the following stats on his 500-ft. run:

Reaction time - 0.526 seconds

60-ft. - 1.461 seconds

Elapsed Time - 5.945 seconds

MPH - 80.74

I want to give a HUGE high five to all the Team Arctic racers who competed at Hay Days, with a special nod to D&D for honoring this site with decals on their sled. Thanks!

Now... off to the swap meet!

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

I could spend weeks in a swap like the one at Hay Days. (Now that I think of it, I saw a few people who appeared to have been in the swap for that long.)

The sheer volume of stuff -- much of it interesting and sometimes rare -- is worth the price of admission. Case in point: the 1991 Wildcat EFI hood.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Plus there are seriously good deals to be had, like this Z1 that probably sold for $2K.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Team Arctic racer/engineer checks out this mint Arctic Cat SCCAT mini bike, which I believe had a price tag of $1,500.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Race teams utilize the Hay Days swap to sell last year's equipment. The Christian Bros. Racing team was unloading gobs of sleds, parts and clothing at good prices.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Team Arctic Sport (and now Pro Lite) snocrosser Travis Kern had a couple nice '14 racers for sale.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

You could buy this ZR and get a lifetime supply of zip-ties with the deal.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

A nice Pantera and Prowler for someone whose right hand gets too warm while riding.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Love the gold-anno Wildcat!

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Likewise, I like the weather-faded decals on this ZR. Proof of the harmful effects of UV rays.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Ever wonder the value of an Arctic Cat poster that you got for free a few years ago at Hay Days?

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

The 1970s called. They want their helmets back.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

I don't remember that team.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

Yep, you could buy a pay phone at the swap.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

And yes, as usual there were many sleds in the process of being refurbished by sellers.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

By 2pm even the most dedicated swappers have reached the limit of human endurance.

Nevertheless, they will return again next year for another round of the great snowmobiling get-together.

 

2014 Hay Days snowmobile event coverage. Photo by ArcticInsider.com

And when we return for 2015, you can count on ArcticInsider to be there covering the important events (and surfaces) as they happen.

Thanks for reading.



Comments (12):

Nick Butze says:
9/22/2014 4:30:00 PM

Great write up!

First HayDays I have missed in 15 years! I almost feel like I was there!

Thanks!
Eric says:
9/22/2014 8:24:00 PM

Isn't that Team Get Drunk hood from an old Olah Racing sled?? I would hang that in my garage if Team Get Drunk hadn't been so successful with their advertising on it...
s.t.i.c.s.9 says:
9/22/2014 8:52:00 PM

I missed running into you somewhere between the monochrome ZR and the "Team Get Drunk" Firecat hood.
Scott Watters says:
9/22/2014 9:11:00 PM

It was a perfect day and found lots of good stuff to buy.And as you said John,it is so cool to have guys from engineering their talking and answering questions that so many had.One thing I think would be nice is to have their name and what engineering department they are from embroidered in there shirts,I think it would help people direct there specific questions to the right engineer.
Tom Rowland says:
9/22/2014 9:29:00 PM

Wow John, great coverage of the event and some great finds too! The efi Wildcat hood, the Olah hood, the 1993 ZR, the Prowler-style drag hood, finding Doug Hanson...any one of those items are noteworthy. BTW, the old ZR isn't sun-faded...it's matte black.
GREGG says:
9/23/2014 6:54:00 AM

YEP was the biggest & busiest ive seen at the new location.awsome weather also
Alex says:
9/23/2014 8:58:00 AM

the guy in the leather pants bears a striking resemblance to a young John I heard...
Matt LaJoy says:
9/23/2014 1:32:00 PM

Nice article John! I missed Haydays this year, but your article and pics make up for my absenteeism!
RACEKID says:
9/23/2014 8:45:00 PM

John, my wife was very impressed that you took the time from your busy schedule to stop and share a few stories in our swap area. She got to meet the man that brings so much great information to us diehard arctic cat people!

As I commented...next year get your own little display tent, hand out some stickers and sell some t-shirts! There is a whole lot of people that would share a few tales with you and would want to thank the man that brings us the articles that are so entertaining to the arctic cat world!

Shannon W says:
9/29/2014 8:21:00 AM

Nicely done! I hope to get up there next season, never been to it.
Pukkey says:
10/9/2015 1:43:00 AM

We really like this pdruoct. It is easy to get in and out of and very light, but sturdy. The only complaint is that the cord should be longer, but it is easily replaced. Well worth the money. Let it snow!
Pukkey says:
10/9/2015 1:43:00 AM

We really like this pdruoct. It is easy to get in and out of and very light, but sturdy. The only complaint is that the cord should be longer, but it is easily replaced. Well worth the money. Let it snow!

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