Grass Dragging for Beginners

Nov. 01, 2005 By ORC STAFF
Strategy Session

Tired of makin' payments on that new sled and watching it collect dust for 8 months out of the year? Are you one of those guys that talks sleds when it's 90 degrees outside & your sittin' at the pool? Well, maybe it's time you got a little more use from your toys! I'm talking drag racing! On the grass. In the summer. Right on up till the fall.

Getting started in grass drags is fairly inexpensive, (as compared to other forms of racing), and won't set you back too much. The first thing you'll need to get started is an International Snowmobile Racing* (ISR) Yearbook (rulebook). Once this is obtained, you'll have a better idea of what you can and can't do to your sled in the class you choose to compete in.

Proper safety equipment is a must, and ISR rules require that you wear it at all times you are on your sled and it is in motion, (even in the pits). A full coverage, SNELL rated helmet is first on the list. Upper body protection, such as a TekVest, is also required. (Moto-X vests do not conform.) Gloves and shin guards are also required. Your snowmobile will also be required to have a working kill-switch and safety tether.

Building your dragster:

Extra Wheels And Lots Of Studs The first thing that you'll want to do is add some extra wheels to your slide rails. I replaced all stock wheels with larger ones, (6mm bigger), and added three extra sets on the rail, (also the larger size). If your budget permits, (and you have room between the slide rails), I highly suggest installing as many 2-3/4" wheels on axles as possible. These are available from aftermarket companies such as Wahl Bros. Racing. At the same time, I removed my hyfax and thinned them down to about an 1/8" thickness. This will help to take weight off the track clips. The key to success is eliminating as much friction as possible.

The next step is lowering your rear suspension. This can be done easily by compressing the springs and chaining them in place. First set your springs on the lightest setting. In most cases, the chain will go around the torsion spring and one of the lower scissor arms. ISR rules require double chains/straps for safety, and a minimum of 2" of travel with rider on board. Don't forget to tighten the front limiter strap also. You want the track to be almost even front and rear.

The front suspension can be lowered by removing as much pre-load as possible from the shocks, and installing longer shock mount bolts top and bottom. With the shocks compressed, a length of chain can then be slipped over the bolts and held in place with a nut and washer. Remember to keep to the 2" rule. Ski carbides need to be removed and replaced with regular steel wear bars.

MXZ Ready To Drag As a general rule, if you set your ski's on a 2"x4", your track should be level while sitting on your garage floor. Your stock track will be fine for getting started. Studs are almost a necessity, and chisel points are best for grass. I've found through trial and error that it doesn't pay to skimp on the proper parts. Putting off buying those larger, (or extra), wheels till next time can cost you a race. Any edge that you can gain on your competition will move things ever so slightly in your favor. Every little thing adds up in the long run. In other words, "the way to win big is to start big."

Keeping your Cool:

Cool Down Cart A means of cooling down your sled between runs is a must. To do this, you will need to build a cool down cart. This consists of a normal size cooler, a 12 volt pump, (I bought a bilge pump at Boat U.S. for $9 bucks and some change), a 12 volt power source, (a motorcycle battery works great), approx. 12' of hose, (cut into two 6' sections), and two pairs of quick connect couplers. All of this fits nicely in my kid's wagon. The thermostat is removed from the snowmobile to allow the water to flow throughout the system. Then, a set of quick connect couplers is added in one of the hoses under the hood. The other pair is hooked up to the pump hose and the return hose.

To cool down the sled, just connect to the pump and turn it on. The cool tap water in the cooler will flow through the system and back to the cooler. It only takes about a minute or so to do the job. Of course, now you have a cooler full of warm water. A second cooler with bags, (or preferably blocks), of ice is used to cool down the water in your cool down cart.

Coupler Connection I use a gas powered leaf blower to cool down my clutches between races.

Test, Test, and Test:

Now it's time to check your set-up. Keep in mind that your sled will run different on grass than on snow. As a result, you will need to tune your clutches, (both primary and secondary), as well as your carbs. Summer jetting varies quite a bit from winter jetting. Your best bet is to ask your dealer what he recommends for grass. This will save you time and money. Some sled manufacturers publish a racing manual. You will find good information in these books and I highly recommend you purchase one.

The actual racing is broken down into various classes. There is a class to fit everyone and are as follows: Stock, Improved Stock, Pro-Stock, Factory modified, Heavy Modified and Open Modified. There are also specialty classes for sleds that don't fall under any of the previously mentioned classes.

Classes are further broken down by displacement. Using my own class as an example, it would go something like this: Stock 700 would contain sleds from 700-601 CC's and would generally have classes for 700 single pipe and 700 triple pipe. If your running a 700 single pipe, you may bump up into the 700 triple pipe or 700 improved class, but not vice-versa.

Test Your Set-Up And Practice, Practice, Practice When setting up your sled, remember that you will have to go through tech inspection before, (and if you win, after), the race. This means paying close attention to the rulebook. (It's no fun scrambling around the pits on race-day trying to bring your sled up to par for tech inspection.) It is advisable to arrive early on race day as tech inspections are usually on a first come basis and take quite a lot of time. (The actual inspection is rather quick, the line to the scales isn't.)

For stock class, the tech inspectors will check for a properly operating kill switch and safety tether. Although not mandatory at some events, it is advisable to get weighed-in at least once so you know where you stand. Some organizations will check your fuel before the race, but usually not in stock class. In the event that you win your class you will be directed to go immediately to the scales for a weighing and then have your fuel checked, along with anything else the tech inspectors deem necessary. Mandatory compliance with the rules must be made at the post-race inspection.

Fast reaction time and low ET's win races. If you're caught sleeping at the line you'll lose every time. 1/10th of a second lost at the line equates to a full sled length at the finish line. This takes practice. I highly recommend that you enter your sled in several classes, (even if you know you don't stand a chance of winning), just to get more seat time. It will also let you get a feel for the track before your real class is up.

Some of the costs I've accrued so far:

(Costs may vary depending on how serious you get into the sport)

  • SNELL rated helmet- already had, but expect to pay at least near the $200 range
  • TekVest - retail starts at around $200
  • Gloves - $25 and up
  • Shin guards - $10 and up
  • Idler wheels - approx. $15 ea (I replaced/added 12)
  • Hyfax - $30
  • Clutching and gearing changes - approx. $150
  • Jetting changes - (a wide variety of jet sizes) $35
  • K&N filters - $60
  • Racing springs (rear torsion) $50
  • Ski wear bars - $40
  • Cool down cart - approx. $65 (not inc. coolers)
  • You will also need a few extra belts

Including belts, I have just under $1k tied up in my grass drag set-up. Sponsorship can help defray these costs though. If you can convince a business you will provide them good advertising, they may support your racing efforts with products, discounts, or other types of payments.

One need not get this carried away to just show up and have fun. I've seen guys show up with just jetting changes and run their sleds as is.

On race day, expect to pay for a daily membership, to the organization running the race. You may want to purchase a yearly membership, if you'll be running in several of their events. Entry fees for each class will vary. So what are you waiting for? Lets go racing!

(Editor's Note: Please click on pictures for larger, clearer views.) Newsletter
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