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Bracket Drag Racers return for start of 2016 season

When racers in the Bracket Drag Racing Series take over the drag strip this weekend, you can bet they won’t waste any time getting their cars – and their racing skills – dialed in for the season.

Most of the final point standings last year came down to one or two rounds that separated first and second place, so racers know exactly how important each run is during the 6-weekend, 12-race series.

Joe Howell

Joe Howell

This weekend’s race kicks off the series and is expected to attract more than 200 dragsters, cars, trucks, motorcycles and Junior Dragsters from throughout the five-state area and Canada. They’ll be gunning for important series points and, for some classes, prize money.

Gates open at 5 p.m. Thursday, with Friday reserved for a Test & Tune day. Saturday and Sunday start with time trials, followed by elimination rounds that culminate with winners being crowned in all 10 racing classes.

“These drag racers have waited all winter to get back on the track, so the first race of the season is always a lot of fun,” BIR Owner Jed Copham said. “It can also be an adventure as a lot of these drivers have made adjustments to their cars during the off-season and are making adjustments on the fly to get it just right. Anything can happen.”

Among the racers who will have targets on their backs this year are Joe Howell, Gary Loeffelholz and Jimmy Paulson, among others. Howell won the coveted King of the Track race and the Pro ET title after sitting out the entire 2014 season. Loeffelholz repeated as Super Pro champion and also won the new Quick 16 class, while Paulson easily won the Pro Bike/Sled title after his first year of riding a drag bike.

Daily admission is $20 and kids 12 and under are free. Camping is free with a multi-day ticket.

For more information on the Bracket Drag Racing Series, click here.

 

 

Wednesday Night Drags start this week!

Time to get off the couch and get on the gas! The 2016 edition of Wednesday Night Drags – Street Legal Style starts this week!

Wednesday Night Drags is your chance to try drag racing on the fastest drag strip in the country. Bring your street-legal car, truck or bike and make as many runs as time allows. Race your friends, your relatives, your adversaries – we love a good grudge match.

WedDrag2For just $25, you can use the burnout box, the light tree  and the scoreboard. We even have a PA announcer calling the action. Click here to check out the rules for details.

This week, we’ll also have a course set up for autocross, which is an increasingly popular timed event where drivers test their skills by driving through a course marked off with orange cones. It’s not as easy as it sounds. The autocross course is no extra charge.

BIR’s 2016 schedule includes nine Wednesday Night Drags, which alternate between autocross and drifting. Drifting is another timed event where drivers maneuver through a cone-lined coarse, except they do it during controlled skids.

Gates open at 4 p.m. Racing starts at 5 p.m. and shuts down at dusk. Spectators are $5.

 

Drag racers honored at annual banquet

More than 180 drag racers and their families and friends attended BIR’s Annual Racer Banquet Feb. 20 to celebrate the 2015 season and honor racers who excelled at the sport they love.

Held at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd, the banquet was a chance for BIR to recognize the winners of the Bracket Drag Racing Series and the Muscle Car Series, as well as four individuals who made an impact on the racing community last year.

Phil Abramson

Phil Abramson

Russ Elzy

Russ Elzy

Paradigm Performance presented the inaugural Dick Roe Appreciation Award to Phil Abramson for outstanding service to the drag racing community. Abramson is on BIR’s drag racing crew and is always friendly and helpful to the racers.

Russ Elzy received the Joe Angelo Sportsmanship Award. Ronnie Luberda received the Outstanding Dedication Award, and 16-year-old Hannah Line received the Rookie of the Year award. She took third in the Bracket Drag Racing Series’ Street Trophy class in her first year racing in one of the seven main classes.

The Bracket Drag Racing Series was well represented at the banquet. All

Ronnie Luberda

Ronnie Luberda

Hannah Line

Hannah Line

10 class winners were present to receive their personalized jackets and trophies. The winners survived an extremely competitive season in most of the classes. The series is over six weekends, with winners crowned on both Saturdays and Sundays. The races typically attract more than 250 dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters.

The three-race Muscle Car Series attracts more than 300 cars and features seven heads-up classes, 10 Index classes, four Eliminator classes and a class for manual transmissions. In all, 13 championships were awarded after the season. Seven of the champions attended to receive their personalized jackets and trophies.

Bracket series winners, back row from left: Gary Loeffelholz, Joe Howell, Brandon Schmall, Jimmy Paulson. Front: James Findell, Jared Hutar and Tyler Gadacz

Bracket series winners, back row from left: Gary Loeffelholz, Joe Howell, Brandon Schmall, Jimmy Paulson. Front: James Findell, Jared Hutar and Tyler Gadacz

Junior Dragster winners: Dylan Dancer, Sydney Haben, Camryn Takacs

Junior Dragster winners: Dylan Dancer, Sydney Haben, Camryn Takacs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muscle Car Series, front row from left: Chad Rach, Bill Meyer, Jason Geiger, Jessica Purdham, Scott Davich, Dan Gefre. Back row: Jake Delmonico, Mike Sterling, David Hodgman, Greg Schmidt, Cory Gesme, Kerry Hemenway, Logan Loesch. Very back: Jason Waste, Raquel Van Namen

Muscle Car Series, front row from left: Chad Rach, Bill Meyer, Jason Geiger, Jessica Purdham, Scott Davich, Dan Gefre. Back row: Jake Delmonico, Mike Sterling, David Hodgman, Greg Schmidt, Cory Gesme, Kerry Hemenway, Logan Loesch. Very back: Jason Waste, Raquel Van Namen

 

 

Last call for Racer Banquet registration

Thursday, Feb. 11 is the deadline for registering for BIR’s annual Racer Banquet, which is set for Saturday, Feb. 20 at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd. Call Keri at BIR’s Ticket Office with questions or to register: 218-824-7223 or 1-866-444-4455. BIR’s offices are open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

If you need lodging, call Cragun’s at 1-800-272-4867. Other lodging options are available as well by contacting VisitBrainerd.com or ExploreBrainerdLakes.com.

BIR is encouraging everyone to make a weekend out of it and join us for snowmobile rides Friday and Saturday morning, or take advantage of the recreational opportunities at Cragun’s and in the Brainerd Lakes Area that weekend.

The Racer Banquet is BIR’s chance to recognize the top drag racers during the 2015 season. Champions of BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series and the Muscle Car Series will be honored, and individual awards will be given out. It’s a fun night for racers as well as their families and friends. Social hour starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. The awards program follows dinner.

The cost for the banquet  is $38 per person, $17 per child 8-12 years old and $11 per child 4-7 years old.

Please be aware that those who attend the banquet must pay for dinner as well.

Visit the Cragun’s Resort website for more details about what they offer and where they are. Or visit the Visit Brainerd website to learn more about what’s happening in the Brainerd Lakes Area that weekend.

Hope to see you there!

A perfect holiday gift: Advance tickets to NHRA Nationals

Advance tickets for the 2016 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals go on sale Dec. 15. You can order tickets by phone (866-444-4455) or online by clicking here.

Advance tickets go on sale just in time for the holidays. It’s the perfect gift for your favorite race fan. For ticket prices, click here.

Here’s another awesome holiday gift idea from BIR: A BIR Gift Certificate. Call today or stop at the BIR Ticket Office and buy a Gift Certificate that can be used for admission, BIR merchandise or registration for the BIR Performance Driving School. Gift Certificates can be used for admission to the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals as well.

The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals is the fastest show on Earth! The world’s best drag racers and the quickest cars descend on BIR Aug. 18-21 for an amazing weekend of NHRA drag racing. The show starts the prior Monday when campers show up for Superweek – it’s a week-long celebration of all things drag racing. Click here to learn more about the event.

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Photo courtesy of SDE

 

 

 

Register today for BIR’s annual Racer Banquet

BIR’s annual Racer Banquet is set for Saturday, Feb. 20 at Cragun’s Resort in Brainerd. But BIR is encouraging everyone to make a weekend out of it and join us for snowmobile rides Friday and Saturday morning, or take advantage of the recreational opportunities at Cragun’s and in the Brainerd Lakes Area that weekend.

Reserve a room at Cragun’s by Jan. 5 and receive guaranteed rates and availability.

The Racer Banquet is BIR’s chance to recognize the top drag racers during the 2015 season. Champions of BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series and the Muscle Car Series will be honored, and individual awards will be given out. It’s a fun night for racers as well as their families and friends. Social hour starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. The awards program follows dinner.

FormClick on the icon at left to download the banquet reservation form, which includes room rates, room types and Cragun’s policies. After completing the form, return it to Keri at BIR by fax at 218-824-7240 or scan it and email it to keri@brainerdraceway.com. Call her at 218-824-7223 with questions or to register and pay over the phone. BIR’s offices are open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday.

The cost for the banquet  is $38 per person, $17 per child 8-12 years old and $11 per child 4-7 years old.

Please be aware that those who attend the banquet must pay for dinner as well.

Visit the Cragun’s Resort website for more details about what they offer and where they are. Or visit the Visit Brainerd website to learn more about what’s happening in the Brainerd Lakes Area that weekend.

Hope to see you there!

 

Diverse, wild racing schedule set for 2016

Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) today announced its 2016 racing schedule, a six-month lineup packed full of thrilling spectator events and opportunities for fans to get behind the wheel on a world-class race track.

Like in past years, the name of the game at BIR is diversity. The schedule features drag racing, road racing, Superbike racing, an Aussie-style cruising event, endurance racing, drifting and autocross competitions, the BIR Performance Driving School and even snowmobile racing on open water. The schedule also includes non-racing events, such as an RV and camper show, and Lakes Jam, a three-day music and camping festival that will feature Toby Keith and Styx this year.

Click here to view the entire 2016 schedule.

The biggest change to the schedule involves Race Week for the 35th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, which is set for Aug. 18-21. BIR basically extended the event into the previous weekend by moving Thunder at the Lakes from early June to Aug. 12-14, the weekend before Nationals. Most of the drag racers who compete at Thunder’s NHRA West Central Division Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series also race in the Sportsman classes during Nationals. Moving the event to August will give fans a great preview to Nationals and will extend the event several more days, BIR Owner Jed Copham said.

“This is great news for our fans because now Nationals is, for all practical purposes, a 12-day event with drag racing taking place on all but four days,” Copham said.

The NHRA Nationals is BIR’s main attraction again this year, when the best drag racers on the planet, the fastest cars and tens of thousands of crazy race fans descend on Brainerd to celebrate the largest motorsports event in the Upper Midwest. BIR’s infamous campground, The Zoo, takes on a life of its own with live music nightly, huge bonfires, a parade of “partywagons,” and a lot more. The NHRA’s new television contract with FOX Sports calls for live coverage of Sunday’s finals.

A major scheduling change that occurred last year proved to be a big hit for BIR. The Trans Am Series moved from the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout on Labor Day weekend to the PleasureLand RV Show & Go on Fourth of July weekend, which is where it’ll be again this year. The Trans Am Series’ 40-lap, 100-mile race on Sunday afternoon will be the weekend’s grand finale event. It was televised last year and is expected to be on TV again this year.

Joining the Trans Am Series on the road course that weekend will be the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) again. Meanwhile, the second leg of the three-race Muscle Car Series will be on the drag strip, with cars flying down the track at over 200 mph in classic heads-up racing.

This is the eighth season for the Muscle Car Series, which kicks off Memorial Day weekend during the Street Car Showdown and ends Labor Day weekend during the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout. The high level of racing has made the events among the most popular at BIR over the last three decades, and attracts drivers from throughout the Upper Midwest.

Joining the ranks as one of the track’s most popular events is the Modern Automotive Performance Proving Grounds, which has two weekends on the schedule again this year. The Proving Grounds is for imports and sport compacts that compete in drag racing, drifting, autocross and open lapping on the road course. One of BIR’s increasingly popular events, the Proving Grounds will be at BIR in June and September.

One event that already was wildly popular got even better this year. The Wet & Wild Weekend in June will feature snowmobiles racing on open water, the Bracket Drag Racing Series on the drag strip and Superbike racing courtesy of the Central Roadracing Association (CRA).

The schedule also is full of fun, affordable and “non-traditional” racing, such as the ChumpCar World Series and the World Racing League, both of which bring endurance racing to BIR for teams of drivers that race cars that are typically headed for the scrap yard. The Aussie-style Powercruise is back for a fifth year, giving fans the chance to participate in a number of driving events throughout the weekend.

“The thing we try to do every year is offer our fans unique types of racing that appeals to the whole family,” Copham said. “We have races that feature professional racing teams, regional amateur drivers and for the backyard mechanics who want to give racing a try. Nearly all of our racing is fun and affordable family entertainment.”

When most people think of BIR, they think of spectator events, but there are many opportunities for people to get behind the steering wheel and test their fortitude and driving skills. For example, the Wednesday Night Drags – Street Legal Style is a program where BIR opens its drag strip to anyone with a street legal car, truck or bike, and a helmet. The same thing is available on the road course, where the BIR Performance Driving School combines classroom instruction and on-track sessions to teach drivers how to handle a car at high speeds. Most racing events have classes for those who want to try racing, using their own street car, truck or bike.

Copham calls it one of BIR’s best-kept secrets. “Many people don’t know that they can come here and race rather than sit in the grandstands and watch. Most of our races are open to anyone, as long as their car or bike meets safety and tech requirements. Some of the races require a short instructional session as well, but most of our events are open and can be affordable to get started.”

Look for BIR at these Twin Cities car, bike shows

The trade show season is officially under way, giving race fans a chance to get a jump on the racing season.

Look for Brainerd International Raceway at four trade shows this year: The Minnesota Sportsmen’s Show, the Minneapolis Motorcycle Show, the Twin Cities Auto Show and the Gopher State Timing Association (GSTA) Rod & Custom Spectacular.

BIR Performance Driving School Director Gary Curtis will be at all four trade shows, along with a variety of other BIR staff and volunteers. They’ll be able to answer questions about the upcoming race season and will have information available for the school and BIR’s racing schedule. You’ll also have a chance to register to win some great prizes from BIR.

Here are details of each show:

The 46th Annual Minnesota Sportsmen’s Show is Jan. 14-17 at the St. Paul RiverCentre in downtown St. Paul. It’s a boat, camping and vacation show with a wide variety of displays, including boats, RVs, outdoor equipment and vacation attractions and destinations. There’s something for everyone!

The Minneapolis Motorcycle Show is Feb. 5-78 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It’s all-things bikes at this show! Hundreds of the latest street bikes, dirt bikes, cruisers, scooters and ATVs will be on display, along with riding gear and aftermarket accessories. A custom bike competition will highlight a long list of entertainment.

The 43nd Annual Twin Cities Auto Show is March 12-20 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. It’s the biggest indoor car show of the year, featuring more than 450 cars. New models represent 35 models of domestic and import vehicles. If you’re looking for the latest and greatest on four wheels, it’s here.

The 60th Annual GSTA Rod & Custom Spectacular is April 9-10 at the Minnesota State Fair Coliseum. Here, you’ll see the nastiest collection of hot rods and customs from throughout the Midwest. Don’t miss it if you’re into fins, flames and fender skirts.

See you at the show. Stop by and say hello!

Bracket drag racers claim series championships

Looking back at the drag racing season, Joe Howell admits that taking last year off turned out to be a pretty good strategy. He returned to the sport this season in grand fashion, winning a Bracket Drag Racing Series championship at Brainerd International Raceway as well as King of the Track honors in July and a roster position on BIR’s ET Finals team last month.

“Taking last year off helped me,” Howell said. “I got hungry again.”

Pro ET winner Joe Howell

Pro ET winner Joe Howell

Gary Loeffelholz, Super Pro & Quick 16

Gary Loeffelholz, Super Pro & Quick 16

Did he ever. Howell’s been drag racing for about 20 years but never raced in BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series. He didn’t race in 2014 to move his family from the Twin Cities to Big Lake, which is closer to BIR, so he decided to give the series a try this year. It seemed to work out pretty well.

His championship came in the Pro ET Class. Howell was one of 11 series champs announced by BIR. The six-weekend, 12-race series concluded Sept. 27. The series champions will be honored this winter at BIR’s annual Racer Banquet.

With 59 drivers in the points chase and almost 100 cars in each race, the Pro ET Class is a close second to the Super Pro Class in the number of cars competing. Driving a 1986 Mustang, Howell won two races this season and beat the winner of the Super Pro Class both times in the Super Pro/Pro Shootout, which pays out $2,000 to the winner.

“It’s a tough class,” Howell said of the Pro ET Class. “There’s a lot of good racers and fast cars.”

Jimmy Paulson won Pro Bike/Sled

Jimmy Paulson won Pro Bike/Sled

James Findell won Stock/Super Stock

James Findell won Stock/Super Stock

The same can be said for the Super Pro Class, which featured 62 drivers in the points chase and about 100 cars each race. Gary Loeffelholz repeated as series champion but only by the slimmest of margins. In fact, if Myron Streit had won one more round last season, the championship would’ve been his.

Loeffelholz and his 2004 Mustang were tough to beat, winning the class twice and adding a runner-up finish. He also won a series championship in the new Quick 16 Class, which is a showdown between the quickest dragster and the quickest cars. Loeffelholz won that class once and was runner up once.

The drag racer who proved to be the toughest to beat this year was Jimmy Paulson, who won the series championship in the Pro Bike/Sled Class. He won six races and was runner up in another two, which is impressive when you consider that it was his first year drag racing bikes. He’s been racing for years in a dragster but decided to try a bike this year.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Paulson, who also won the National Dragster Challenge in the bike class last month. “I wish I would’ve changed over to bikes 20 years ago.”

Brandon Schmall won Sportsman

Brandon Schmall won Sportsman

Jared Hutar won Comp Trophy

Jared Hutar won Comp Trophy

Oddly enough, Paulson’s bike was built by Jason Clampitt, who was last year’s series champion in Pro Bike/Sled and finished in sixth place in the point standings.

James Findell won the series championship in Stock/Super Stock, which is a tall order considering that Ben Line has dominated that class for years. Line won seven of the last eight class championships.

Findell, like all the other racers in the class, were watching over their shoulders for Line all season, but the defending champ battled issues with his Mustang, opening the door for someone else to win the title.

“I was very lucky,” said Findell, who blew up the motor in his 1973 Plymouth Duster the weekend before. He had to race his wife’s car and then really struggled in the final race. “I drove terribly Sunday.”

But he made it to the third round, which was good enough to hold on to the championship, his second after winning it in 2003.

Tyler Gadacz won Street Trophy

Tyler Gadacz won Street Trophy

Sydney Haben won Jr. Dragster Advanced

Sydney Haben won Jr. Dragster Advanced

In Sportsman, Brandon Schmall and his 1970 Dodge Challenger racked up three wins and a runner-up finish to take the series championship.

“It was a pretty good year,” said Schmall, who also won his Race of Champions for BIR at the ET Finals last month. He also finished second in Pro ET and ninth in Super Pro.

Jared Hutar won four Comp Trophy races and was runner up once to win a series championship in his ’94 Camaro.

In Street Trophy, Tyler Gadacz drove his 2001 Mustang to three wins and one runner-up finish to win the series championship.

The Junior Dragster racers proved that you don’t need to win a bunch of races to win series championships. Sydney Haben didn’t win a race all season in Junior Dragster Advanced Class but was runner up one race and was a model of consistency, which earned her a series championship.

Camryn Takacs won Jr. Dragster Intermediate

Camryn Takacs won Jr. Dragster Intermediate

Dylan Dancer won Jr. Dragster Novice

Dylan Dancer won Jr. Dragster Novice

In the Junior Dragster Intermediate Class, Camryn Takacs won one race and was runner up in three others, which helped her sneak by Samantha Cielinski by less than one round on the season to win the series championship.

Dylan Dancer won three races in Junior Dragster Novice and was runner up in three others to win his first series championship.

Below are the top three places in each class. Congrats to the winner!

 

Super Pro
1. Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer
2. Myron Streit of St. Cloud
3. Terry Pease of Blaine

Pro ET
1. Joe Howell of Big Lake
2. Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes
3. Reno Loeffelholz of Shafer

Sportsman
1. Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes
2. Mark Pease of Corcoran
3. Steve Elzy of Lindstrom

Stock/Super Stock
1. James Findell of Zimmerman
2. Glen DeMenge of McGregor
3. Ben Line of International Falls

Pro Bike/Sled
1. Jimmy Paulson of Stacy
2. Jeremy Berg of Newport
3. Mike Voss of Maplewood

Comp Trophy
1. Jared Hutar of Cromwell
2. Sid Osterman of Pequot Lakes
3. Andrew Walcheski of Foley

Street Trophy
1. Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls
2. Joe Moriarty Jr. of Ham Lake
3. Hannah Line of Cromwell

Quick 16
1. Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer
2. Jordan Pratt of Otsego
3. Brad Baklund of Rogers

Junior Dragster Advanced
1. Sydney Haben of Hibbing
2. Zach Zavadil of Clearwater
3. Maggie Ruzich of Hibbing

Junior Dragster Intermediate
1. Camryn Takacs of Thunder Bay, Ontario
2. Samantha Cielinski of Gilman
3. Trevor Jelinski of Little Falls

Junior Dragster Novice
1. Dylan Dancer of Foley
2. Riley Luberda of Foley
3. Alex Clampitt of Lino Lakes

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