by Ron Bray
NSSR has officially been in existence since 1986. Snowmobiles began speed run racing in the 1970’s and by the early 1980’s there were a number of exotic unlimited sleds with V8’s and outboard motors including the Budweiser Sno-King. The need for a professional organization was discussed by many of the “Speed Run Racers” in the early 1980’s and led to the establishment of the National Snowmobile Straightline Racing organization which became known as NSSR. The NSSR name is recognized world wide as the only World Record Speed Run circuit for snowmobiles. World Records required that the fastest run be backed up by a run the same day of 2% of the speed. Strict Technical standards were established for each class and it was required that all World Records in the Stock Class had mandatory teardown with oversight by the NSSR Tech Director(s).
The affiliation of NSSR with the International Snowmobile Racing (ISR) association, who served as the umbrella organization for rules, brought legitimacy to the World Record Series.
NSSR began it’s World Record Series in 1986 and held 6 races each winter. Race locations included Minnesota, Wisconsin, Canada, and Wyoming. Mr. Bart Bartholomew served as the Race Director prior to 1988. Ms.Meg Greenhaw took over as President of NSSR in 1988 and remained in charge until 2000. NSSR was part of the Wild West Winter Carnival in Riverton, Wyoming in 1987 and 1988. They initially ran a track that was one-quarter of a mile long and classes included the stock sleds to the “Unlimited Class”. The unlimited class included the exotic production sleds like the Budweiser Sno-King, Coors Light Silver Bullet, Jaws 1 and Jaws 3, Boss Cat, King Cat, along with many other special built sleds that sometimes cost over $80,000 to build even back in the 1980’s. The World Record in the one-quarter mile at that time was at 170 mph.
In 1988, the racers decided to make the “Unlimited Class” to include only snowmobile engines for the 1989 race season. Many of the special built sleds were revamped to run the snowmobile engines at the encouragement of the manufacturers. The Budweiser Sno-King was converted from a Blown Big Block Chevy motor to a series of the new Yamaha V-Max engines. The world record immediately went to the Budweiser Sno-King at 168 mph in the new track length of 1000 foot.
NSSR has seen and helped to promote many famous drivers such as Dwight Regeman and Paul Groth of the Budweiser Team, Marv Jorgenson driving JAWS, John Deede, Dave Trygstad, Guy Parquette and Jamie Bellman of Ski Doo, Jim Dimmerman of Artic Cat, Mike Knapp of Yamaha and Artic Cat, and others too long to list. Mike Schroeder who does the announcing at the famous Hay Days Grass Drag Competition even now was the official announcer of NSSR back in the 1990’s.
Snowmobile manufacturers such as Ski Doo, Artic Cat, Polaris, and Yamaha used the NSSR Speed Run Circuit as a place to show off their new stock production sleds. Many of the factory racers were directed to run the stock sleds in competition for the world records.
The 1990’s were famous years for NSSR with the participation at the St. Paul Winter Carnival in Minnesota and fierce competition by the manufacturers and their teams to be world record holders in the stock classes. In 1993 the advent of racing on asphalt became a realization and by 1995 NSSR became know for its’ “Picks and Slicks” because it not only had World Records on the Ice in 1000 feet, but now had an Asphalt Series on race tracks throughout the Midwest in the one-quarter mile tracks. National Heads up Competition was held annually in Brainerd, Minnesota under NSSR and NHRA at the Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) in the Pro Stock 800 class, and was by invitation only. The top 8 Pro Stock Drivers in the United States were invited to participate at this event. Even today, the National Asphalt competition for the top eight Pro Stock 1000 race sleds throughout the United States continues at BIR under the direction of NSDRA.
NSSR went strong until the Winter of 2000, when with the combination of mild winters and the manufacturers focus switching to sno cross racing, led to NSSR suspending race efforts. The old NSSR held it’s last race in February of 2000 on Lake Mille Lacs. Speed Runners continued to run at many local radar runs and some well organized speed run events from 2001 to 2004. It again became apparent during this time that racers again needed some type of organization to promote the speed run competition in a professional manner.
In 2004, the rights to NSSR were picked up under the direction of Mr. Nathan Lantto of Minnesota. Nathan was always enamored by NSSR and captured the opportunity to purchase and rescue the rights to NSSR in 2003. He held his first race in January of 2004 under the name of Central Minnesota Speed Association (CMSA). The return of NSSR under the name of CMSA, again provided the return of the World Record Speed Run Series with the ISR affiliation. Nathan served as Race Director, and brought Myron Parent back as Technical Director to legitimize the New World Records.
The 2008 Race Season for CMSA (formerly NSSR) was held under the direction of Ron Bray, Race Director, and Stacy Bray, Secretary. Nathan Lantto sold the rights of CMSA and NSSR to Ron and Stacy in October of 2007 due the personal commitments he had with his new career endeavors and time commitments. Races for the 2008 season were held under the CMSA umbrella in McGregor, Forest Lake, and Annandale, Minnesota.
Ron and Stacy recognized the need to return to the “NSSR’ name for the 2009 Season. The racers showed a lot of excitement about the discussions held to return to the old name. The CMSA name has now been officially changed to the National Straightline Snowmobile Racing, Inc. (NSSR) and maintains the only World Record Series for Snowmobile Speed Runs and its’ ISR affiliation.
The excitement and interest in Snowmobile Speed Runs is increasing rapidly. We are seeing many new racers stepping up and old racers digging out their sleds who look forward to the new competition. In 2008, we seen for the first time the new top speed of the unlimited class exceed 170 mph and go into the 171 mph range on the JAWS 1 machine owned by Marv Jorgenson, and piloted by Darrin Weber. Classes have increased from the original 29 to over 35 to now include the advent of the Four Stoke sleds and the Full Body Sleds developed by Aftermarket Companies. The World Record in the Pro Stock Four Stoke Class of 153 mph set by Jack Hendrichs on a full body sled is amazing to say the least. Competitors include racers from Canada and the United States.
NSSR looks forward to an exciting season for 2009 with the addition of “Snosuit” as a major sponsor and the continued support of Justice Brothers (JB) in the NSSR circuit, along with many sponsors to numerous to mention here. Four races are proposed for 2009 in Minnesota and Wisconsin area. NSSR provides two tracks for competition, one for the professional racer along with one for the racer who just wants to race for a trophy and have fun. Both tracks have a professional photocell timing system. NSSR has seen a steady increase of interest from the Vintage Sleds and provides a relaxed format for the Vintage Racer to come and see what the old sleds can do. The addition of new classes in the area of juniors and mini mods, along with aftermarket promotion in the open mod, full body sleds, and unlimiteds will provide for another exciting year in the Speed Run competition and the new history setting speeds of NSSR. See our website at www.racenssr.com for more information.