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.
One person who paid his $20 to see the show was Waiting For Winter Guy.
WFG signed autograph-postcards, posters and posed for photos with fans. He was definitely a hit at the Arctic Cat booth.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Zach (right) and Nick Pattyn (middle) are back on Cat for snocross this season!
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.
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.
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.
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…
…while a few feet away, the retro-themed FOX dudes were getting their ’70s groove going with Kirk Hibbert’s ’93 ZR 440.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I snuck over to the drag strip for an hour or so on Saturday, where Team Arctic racers were tearing up the place.
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)
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.
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…
…moments later, Al Shimpa (Left, Team Arctic Drag Racing Coordinator) looks at Dylan’s result with Dale Roes of D&D.
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!
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.
Plus there are seriously good deals to be had, like this Z1 that probably sold for $2K.
Team Arctic racer/engineer checks out this mint Arctic Cat SCCAT mini bike, which I believe had a price tag of $1,500.
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.
Team Arctic Sport (and now Pro Lite) snocrosser Travis Kern had a couple nice ’14 racers for sale.
You could buy this ZR and get a lifetime supply of zip-ties with the deal.
A nice Pantera and Prowler for someone whose right hand gets too warm while riding.
Love the gold-anno Wildcat!
Likewise, I like the weather-faded decals on this ZR. Proof of the harmful effects of UV rays.
Ever wonder the value of an Arctic Cat poster that you got for free a few years ago at Hay Days?
The 1970s called. They want their helmets back.
I don’t remember that team.
Yep, you could buy a pay phone at the swap.
And yes, as usual there were many sleds in the process of being refurbished by sellers.
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.
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.