2018-01-18 / Outdoors

Big crowd shows for drag race in Empire

— photos and story by Jay Bushen


A SLEW of snowmobilers was on hand Saturday at Empire Airport for the third annual Roy Taghon Memorial Empire Snowmobile Drag Race. A SLEW of snowmobilers was on hand Saturday at Empire Airport for the third annual Roy Taghon Memorial Empire Snowmobile Drag Race. Soni Aylsworth wasn’t sure what to anticipate in year three of the Roy Taghon Memorial Empire Snowmobile Drag Race at Empire Airport.

“I expected 100 snowmobilers and at most 500 spectators,” Aylsworth said.

The event, which featured about 14 riders in 2016 and 61 riders in 2017, brought in more than 150 riders on Saturday — and 600-plus spectators.

Aylsworth was thrilled to see it.

“It’s taken a lot of work,” he said, “but it finally paid off this year.”

Sunshine, layers of warm clothes and a heated beer tent kept attendees warm despite temperatures in the low-to-mid teens.

The cold weather was a welcome sight to Aylsworth, who dealt with melting snow on the track in 2017.

“The track turned out really nice,” Aylsworth said, adding that the Benzie-Manistee Snowbirds groomed the track on Jan. 7 and again Saturday morning.

Aylsworth said a check will be presented to Dave and Diane Taghon for the Roy Taghon Memorial Fund, a scholarship fund benefiting Glen Lake Community Schools students. Proceeds will also benefit the Snowbirds.

Aylsworth extended a big “thank you” to his wife, April Aylsworth; Andy Gale; Jeff McDowell; John Reed; Mike Schmid; the Snowbirds; the Benzie County Community Emergency Response Team; and all volunteers helping out with the event.

A list of winners was not available at press time.



CHIEF OF COURSE Mike Schmid was tasked with waving the orange flag. CHIEF OF COURSE Mike Schmid was tasked with waving the orange flag.

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