The Dresser Off Road Rally takes place each Memorial Day weekend at Dresser, Wisconsin, an hour northeast of Minneapolis, just over the St. Croix River, on the grounds of the Trollhaugen Ski Resort. No, you can't 'wheel the ski slopes, but the host club, the Minnesota Go-4 Wheelers, have partnered with the resort to open hundreds of acres of normally unused wooded property just for this event. They also offer a full plate of activities.
The Rally's numerous racing events are held in a lush natural valley, which provides spectators with the perfect vantage point to look view the races. Located on top of the slope are various manufacturers' booths as well as food stands. This was also the location for the Show 'n' Shine on Saturday. In the valley basin are the dual mud pits, Tough Truck track, and monster truck course. Sunday and Monday mud racing was sanctioned and sponsored by the National Mud Racing Organization, and drew some of the fastest racers in the country to Dresser. The mud track at Trollhaugen has long been known as a very fast track, and this year the field consisted of 89 registered racers in 4 classes; modified cut tires, modified DOT tires, Open cut tires, and paddle tires. Saturday's mud racing, sponsored by the Northern Mud Racers, drew over 45 trucks.
Monster trucks made an appearance for what was billed as "the best monster truck freestyle show in the country.'' This year's lineup included Bearfoot, Executioner, Bulldozer and Monster Patrol. The show also consisted of timed racing.
The Go-4s' Tough Truck racing is legendary, and this year their track was one of the longest and gnarliest we've ever seen, a creative construction of massive dirt hills, thick mud, small boulders, innumerable whoop-de-doos, and lots of curvy twisty-turns. The track was fascinating to watch, with more than one truck falling prey to its brutal construction.
In contrast to most Jamboree-type events, the Dresser Rally also features trail rides. The Go-4s have constructed a trail system out of the thick Wisconsin woodland that is nothing short of amazing. There are three basic trails: Red, White, and Blue. The Go-4s' 29 years of hosting the Off Road Rally (19 years at Trollhaugen) have given them the experience needed to ensure that participants get to run the trail they want, while maintaining a good traffic flow over the trail system.
Depending on how traffic is flowing, trail rides tend to run from two to four hours each. The trails themselves are very well designed, and offer something for every skill level. Numerous bypass trails allow skirting of the tough obstacles while still offering good 'wheeling.
Some trail obstacles are quite challenging. For instance, the Blue Trail boasts the man-made "Rocky Mount'' obstacle: a boulder-strewn, uphill nightmare similar to any one of the trails found on the hardcore Dakota Challenge (attended by quite a few of the Go-4s, hence the idea, perhaps). Another obstacle on the Blue Trail is the "Crawler,'' a 1/8-mile lane of misery that resembles a land-locked logjam . . . And this is just the beginning of the Blue Trail.
Other trails are challenging as well, and offer mud, off-camber uphills, and deep sand. The Go-4s are constantly modifying the trails, and word is, some obstacles will be even tougher for 1998.
Safety is also a prime concern: Before being allowed to traverse the trails, participant vehicles must pass a tech inspection which include checks for items like tow hooks, battery tie-downs, fire extinguishers, seat belts, and so forth.
Campin' And Rampin'
Camping is the lodging of choice for participants. There are campgrounds on the premises, and most of the participants choose to camp, resulting in over 2,000 campsites for the '97 event. The campground offers showers, as well as an entertainment tent with dancing on Saturday and Sunday night. On Trollhaugen's property is the Royale Christie Restaurant which offers fine dining, and there's breakfast available each morning across the road from the campground. For those who prefer to forego camping, there are motels in Dresser and the surrounding communities. To ease the strain on your feet, the Go-4s have a shuttle bus that runs from the campground to the racetrack on a continuous circuit throughout the weekend.
Also at the campground was a ramp to check Ramp Travel Index, which was sponsored by the Minnesota 4-Wheel Drive Association. For a small donation, you could see how your truck "stacked up'' against others. Chad Keen's CJ-5 scored a very respectable score of 1477 to take top honors for the weekend.
If all of these things weren't enough, the Go-4s offered winching demonstrations, a trail riding Hummer demo, a stuntman who rolls cars down very long embankments, a monster truck visit to promote the DARE program, and lots more.
In 1997, 983 participant trucks and over 4,500 spectators came to Dresser. The Memorial Off Road Rally will return to Dresser May 22-25, 1998. For more information, contact: Memorial '98, Dept. FW, 344 Independence St., Champlin, MN 55316, 612/427-5903.