The Low Down on Drag Racing
In 2021 there was plenty of buzz about drag racing at Silver lake Sand Dunes. We wanted to get a veteran duner’s take on what we need to know about drag racing activities at the dunes, so we reached out to Dave Martel. Although a frontline fixture on the dunes, behind the scenes, Dave is the owner of DuneStars.com, LLC, a foundation for the off-road community, he is a founding board member of the Silver Lake Recreation Association and is a founder of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes Facebook group, which is 70K+ members strong and is known to be a central source for real-time dune information within the community. He helped sort out what drag racing was all about for those of us that have not had the experience of getting in on the action.
What is allowed?
In July of 2021, PA 75 was signed into law exempting the ORV scramble area at Silver Lake State Park from the restrictions in the Michigan Motor Vehicle Code. Although drag racing is allowed at the Dunes, certain requirements, best practices, and laws apply for those participating in the activity:
- Possession of a valid operator’s license
- USFS (United States Forest Service) approved spark arrester
- Maximum of 94 decibels of sound
- No alcohol
- Follow directional traffic zone
- Maintain control of your vehicle at all times
- Never operate above your skill level or capability of your vehicle
- Never operate a vehicle at a rate of speed greater than is reasonable and proper or in a careless manner.
- Maintain safe distances between vehicles
- No exhibition driving near the beach area
- Always use or wear appropriate safety gear, such as: roll bars, helmets and seatbelts
- Be aware of changing dune conditions
- Spectators need to maintain a safe distance from vehicle in operation
- Respect our natural resources – pay attention to signage indicating boundaries and protection efforts underway.
How is the drag racing organized?
As Dave explains it, drag racing is not necessarily an organized event that happens at a certain time of the day or a specific place, it is more of a phenomenon. Each day as the park get busier, most often between 11:00 and about 4:30, vehicles will begin to line up to create the drag racing field in the South Flats or Dune Buggy Junction. To begin, drag racers will go to the starting line and a spectator will bend and release a safety flag to start the race. Racers are not matched up, rather any two vehicles can race against each other. You will see anything from a trophy truck to a late model minivan approach the line, and when the flag drops, they’re off!
So, if this is something that gets your engine revving, you are welcome to jump in and partake with the rest of the experienced duners. You will find this to be a crowd that welcomes the newbies to join in on the fun. If you just want to watch, you are welcome too. Just line up at the sidelines with the other spectators. You’re sure to make some new friends.