Grass Drags Promise A Roaring Good Time


November 18, 1990|By Stanley C. Dillon

If you're looking for something different today that has plenty of action and good food, try the grass drags at Kingsdale, Pa.

Snowmobiles will reach speeds of 70 mph on a 500-foot grassy drag strip when the Pigeon Hills Snowmobile Club is host for the Mason Dixon Grass Drag Championships. The event will be at the Kingsdale Volunteer Fire Company grounds, north of Taneytown.

Races start at noon and gates open at 8 a.m. Admission is $5 for adults and children under 12 are admitted free.

Manchester dairy farmer Norman Sellers, race organizer, is an avid snowmobile enthusiast, but says he is not into racing. So he volunteers each year to organize the drag races that are conducted on grass throughout the fall, when there is little snow in the county.

"It was one of those things you inherit," he said, recalling how he became involved.

Like any special event, Sellers puts a lot of work and time into the grass drags, which have become so successful that riders travel many miles to compete. More than 100 competitors from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland will bring their racing sleds to Kingsdale.

"I never have become serious about racing," said Sellers, a five-year veteran of the drags. "I either had to help out or organize the event."

Seller and his committee begin planning in March. Dates were selected then and cleared with the fire department, insurance was purchased and helpers -- such as announcers, inspectors and a flag man -- were rounded up.

Advertising and concessions are also handled by the committee. Overall, about 50 people make the event work, most volunteers from the club. The only pay they get is maybe a little food, and some say that alone is worth the trip.

Sleds are divided into approximately 22 classes, with the modified class the fastest. Those race down the 500-foot strip in less than five seconds and reach speeds in excess of 70 miles per hour.

The sleds are modified so much that that they have lost all resemblance to snowmobiles. They have no hoods or bodies, just seats and motors that make for a noisy, fast ride.

Another class is super stock sleds, which have minor modifications to engines and suspensions.

The class with the most competitors is the stock class. Stock sleds are further divided into classes by a horsepower-to-weight ratio established by the International Snowmobile Racing Association.

One highlight of today's racing action will be whether Gaven Bullock of Westminster can repeat as high-point winner in the Formula III class. Only sleds less than five years old make up this class.

A purse of $500 has been posted for this class by York Roofing, Henry Hartman Polaris Snowmobile Dealer and Mike Wolfe Steel Products in Westminster.

Sellers said he wasn't always interested in snowmobiles.

"I used to think that they were crazy," he recalled.

That was before a friend visited one Christmas about 10 years ago and brought his snowmobile.

"We rode his sled and we've been riding ever since," said Sellers.

At first, Sellers and his wife, Pat, rode their sled around the farm.

Then they rode from farm to farm, joining friends whenever it snowed.

Soon they joined the Pigeon Hills Snowmobile Club, and the group started using Sellers' farm for racing.

Now, to accommodate the growing crowd of more than 100 racers and spectators, the grass drags are conducted at the fire grounds.

Today, after the racing season is over, Sellers begins planning his trips to Canada. Twice a year, he travels to an area 65 miles north of Montreal, Quebec, to ride trails on his sled.

In January, he joins his son-in-law Mike Cain and two other men in a cross-country tour. They normally ride as many miles as they can around the Montreal countryside.

In February, Sellers and his wife tour the Canadian wilderness with several other couples from the club, traveling at a more leisurely pace.

Until Sellers became interested in snowmobiling, he spent all his time taking care of the dairy farm with his brother, Paul. Together they farm 600 acres of crop land, 400 of it in corn, 100 in hay and 100 in small grain.

The farm has been in the family for four generations and Sellers' son Harry helps with the farm. Each day, the Sellers family milks 130 Holsteins out of its herd of 375.

Now, snowmobiling has put some play into what used to be an all-work schedule for the 51-year-old farmer. He said he takes his time off during the winter months and his brother takes off summers.

After the races are over today, Sellers will be milking the cows tomorrow and looking forward to fun in the winter months' snow. Come next March, he'll once again begin planning for next year's Mason Dixon Grass Drag Championships.

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