From start to finish, the race heats could be over in a matter of seconds, according to an event organizer, as the 4th Annual Turf Wars drag racing event returns to Cormorant, Minn., on June 5.
The heads-up, tournament-style, powersport drag racing event will feature drivers from across the country dueling their racers down a 500-foot, turf track in Cormorant, about 15 miles north of Pelican Rapids, for trophies, and bragging rights, on Saturday, June 5. With their 2020 event canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Luke Eggebraaten, an event organizer, said he expects up to 2,000 event attendees, and close to 750 racers competing across 16 different racing classes at the event.
"It's kind of like one of those things where this is the calm before the storm," said Eggebraaten. "Just by their reactions on Facebook, my goal is 1,500 to 2,000 people, but it could get up to well past that."
He said by not having the event in 2020, it gave organizers more time to plan for the 2021 event, which will feature more than 20 sponsors, a concession and merchandise stand and three to four food trucks.
"This event is once a year … and just putting in all that time, some money, and effort, and just promoting it, it wasn't an easy cancellation" said Eggebraaten. "It was just that in-between feeling of do we do it half-way, or do we just cancel and do it next year and kind of regroup."
He said the event organizers knew it was a difficult call canceling the 2020 event, but they also knew they had an entire year to plan the next one.
"Not only have we had tons, and tons of outside interest, but we're really hitting the local community now," said Eggebraaten. "How cool would it be to have 4,000 people from Detroit Lakes, Pelican Rapids and Lake Park come? That would be incredible."
Racers will coming from as far as Nevada and Utah to compete in more than 16 different engine classes that may feature a 251cc, 4-stroke engine in one heat and farm utility racers in the next, he said.
"We have had a suped up lawnmower, and kind of at this point, we don't know what we're going to get with that class every year," Eggebraaten said. "People in northern Minnesota never cease to amaze me."
The event will also include competitive classes for youth racers and racers over age 50.
"We've got one for 50 and up, we've got a farm utility class, we've got a class for little kids, so I think it's just a good mix racers," he said. "We've seen 4-year-olds even race and it's just meant to be fun."
Each class will have its own double-elimination, tournament bracket with trophies being presented to the winners following the days racing. Eggebraaten said even the event organizers won't know how many racers they will register until the morning of the event.
He also said the race has grown in popularity in each of their first years. In 2017, the event drew about 100 attendees, then, tripled the attendance the following year to an estimated 300 racegoers. He also said the organizers were surprised when nearly 1,100 people showed up in 2019, which led to their single food truck being overwhelmed by racegoers.
"We had one food truck there and that sold out by … 2 p.m., I'll say, it sold out of food, everything," he said. "That was obviously a huge bump, and (the organizers) were like, 'we've got something here.'"
Admission for Turf Wars Racing 2021 is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 12 years old with the race heats starting at 10 a.m.. Racer registration begins at 6 a.m. and the fees are $40 for a single-racing class and $20 for each additional class. Registration for the 10-and-under children's division is $10.
Eggebraaten also said the event wouldn't be possible without the 15 to 20 volunteers, who will make this year's Turf Wars Racing a truly special event be donating their time.
"People at the start line, people at the finish line, there are people doing concessions, a merchandise tent, bracket stuff and registration, that's a big one," he said, "admissions tent, there are just so many jobs and (the organizers) can't do it all, so it's a huge group of volunteers that really make the event go."