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Rocket cars join Bracket Drag Racing Series this weekend

This weekend’s drag racing program at Brainerd International Raceway will take on a whole new look, as a rocket dragster and a rocket go-kart will be testing on the drag strip Friday afternoon.

Capt. Jack McClure in his Rocket Go-Kart

Capt. Jack McClure in his Rocket Go-Kart

One of them will be the Rocket Go-Kart driven by 89-year-old Captain Jack McClure, who first started driving rocket-powered cars 50 years ago. The other is the rocket-powered Sonic Stinger dragster, driven by Minnesotan Kurt Anderson and built by the legendary rocket builder Ky Michaelson of Bloomington.

The two rockets cars are expected to make three or four runs down BIR’s drag strip on Friday. They’ll be sharing the track with dragsters in BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series, which will be testing that day in preparation for Saturday and Sunday’s races.

On Sunday, BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course will be hosting the Slowpokes Car Club, which will have driving

The rocket-powered Sonic Stinger dragster

The rocket-powered Sonic Stinger dragster

events on the track all day. Fans are invited to watch the club as well.

This is the second weekend for drivers in the Bracket Drag Racing Series, which features six weekends and 12 races this season. Saturday and Sunday start with time trials for all 10 classes before cars are paired up for elimination rounds, which results in winners both days.

More than 250 dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters are expected to compete, with prize money on the line for the top classes, and valuable series points up for grabs.

On Friday, though, all eyes will be on the rocket ships flying down the drag strip. Anderson’s car will go about 330 mph in the quarter mile, with a time of about 4 seconds, which is close to the speeds posted by the Top Fuel Dragsters that compete at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at BIR in August. McClure’s go-kart goes about 230 mph with a time of about 5 seconds.

Michaelson, who has a long and storied history of building rocket devices, makes the distinction between his Sonic Stinger (and the go-kart driven by McClure) and a jet-powered car. The rocket cars are powered by hydrogen peroxide reacting to a silver-plated screen. The peroxide turns to steam and is forced through a nozzle to create thrust. He said fans shouldn’t be looking for giant flames coming out the back of these cars, like you’d see when jet cars run.

Michaelson is such as rocket junkie that he named his son Buddy Rocketman Michaelson. He has built rocket-powered bikes, wheelchairs, roller skates, cars, motorcycles and even a backpack that Buddy flew when he was 7 years old. His rockets have been in movies (“October Sky”) and were launched into space in 2004, traveling 72 miles above Earth at 3,420 mph.

McClure’s rocket experience took a vastly different path. He was a stock car racer in the late 1950s and early 1960s before developing an interest in go-karts. He developed one with twin engines and discovered that it’d go 100 mph down the drag strip, giving Super Stock drag racers a run for their money. In 1963, he replaced his kart with a rocket-powered kart that he raced at drag strips all over the country. His go-kart is a small, single seat open kart with the rocket on the back.

“These rockets are going to be a lot of fun to watch,” BIR Owner Jed Copham said. “We’re told that this is the first time two rocket cars have been at the same track since the 1980s, so it’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime event for fans to see. But those who stick around for the Bracket Drag Racing Series will see some really competitive racing as well and some very fast cars, especially those competing in our new Quick 16 class.”

Daily admission this weekend is $20, and kids 12 and under are free. Camping is free with the purchase of a multi-day ticket. Visit BrainerdRaceway.com for more details.

Making headlines: This weekend’s Sands, Delmonico

Two drag racers who will be gunning for consecutive championships this year in the Muscle Car Series are Keith Sands and Jake Delmonico, both of who were featured in their hometown newspapers. They both will be competing this weekend during the 7th Annual Street Car Showdown, which kicks off the three-race series. The other two races are the PleasureLand RV Show & Go over the Fourth of July weekend and the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout on Labor Day weekend.

Keith Sand

Keith Sand

Keith Sands won the series championship last year in the Manual Transmission class, driving his 1966 GTO. His 20-year-old son, Kevin, also did well in the series, taking runner-up honors last hear in the Strip Eliminator 1 class. He drives a 1983 Olds. Read more about the lethal father-son combo by clicking here.

Delmonico and his 1968 Camaro is shooting for a three-peat in the Outlaw Class. It was looking like he was going to sweep the class for the second straight year in 2014 before losing in the finals of the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout. He was featured in the South Washington County Bulletin. Click

Jake Delmonico, Outlaw Class Champ

Jake Delmonico, Outlaw Class Champ

here to read the feature.

 

Showdown Notes: Kris Vox to perform, KQDS broadcasts from BIR

The 7th Annual Street Car Showdown’s program just keeps getting better and better. First, KQDS-FM returns to broadcast its wildly popular morning show from BIR’s Tower Suites Friday morning, and then Kris Vox, formerly of the band Hairball, signs on to play Friday night at The Wheelie Bar & Grille. Race fans are in for a big treat.

KQDS logoKQDS, the top radio station in the Duluth market and throughout most of northeast Minnesota, will bring its morning show to BIR Friday morning to broadcast live from 6-10 a.m. from the Tower Suites overlooking the drag strip starting line. The show stars Jason Manning and Scott Savage, who will be talking about the Street Car Showdown all morning and interviewing some of the drivers who will compete this weekend.

The morning show DOES NOT air in the Brainerd market, even though you can listen to KQDS at 95.9 FM here. You can here the show in Duluth and most of northeast Minnesota. You can also click here to go to KQ’s website and listen to it streaming online.

The Wheelie Bar & Grille was originally scheduled to have DJ music Friday night but a recent scheduling change means that fans will be treated to live music by Kris Vox, formerly of the band Hairball. Kris will perform from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Hairball is the ultimate 1980s tribute band, with costume changes, rotating lead singers and a giant fan base. Vox left the band in December but will perform a one-man show Friday.

 

BIR kicks off summer with Street Car Showdown

Rick Schmidt is a realistic man. He understands that when you have the fastest car at the race track for an entire season and walk away with a class championship, you’re going to have a big target on your back the following season.

Rick Schmidt's 2011 Mustang

Rick Schmidt’s 2011 Mustang

That’s the situation for Schmidt, who will be returning to Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) Memorial Day weekend for the 7th Annual Street Car Showdown to kick off his second year in BIR’s three-race Muscle Car Series on the drag strip, where Schmidt will be racing in the series’ fastest class: Pro Outlaw.

The Street Car Showdown, May 22-24, is the first major event of the season at BIR and features the Muscle Car Series on the drag strip and the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Harvey West Memorial Day Classic on

Action from the SCCA Harvey West Classic.

Action from the SCCA Harvey West Classic.

the road course, a two-for-one event for race fans and a great way to kick off the summer.

Last year was Schmidt’s first crack at the Muscle Car Series, but he stole the show by driving his beefed-up 2011 Mustang to two series wins and a runner-up finish. He was flying down the quarter-mile track at 210 mph and posting winning times around 6.5 seconds.

That 6.5 seconds is quick but Schmidt doesn’t think it’s going to be quick enough this year to take the championship. He worked on his car all winter trying to get more speed out of it, because he knows that the competition did the same to knock him off this year.

“There’s going to be some heavy hitters out there this year,” he said of the competition. “It’ll be a lot harder (to win). Some of the guys are stepping up their game and will be pulling some big horsepower.”

The same thing went through Jake Delmonico’s mind this winter. He’s won five of the last six races in the Outlaw Class and is trying to three-peat as class champion this year. He spent the winter making modifications to his 1968 Camaro but didn’t really like the results, so he’s going back to the same set-up he had the last two years, when his car was rarely the fastest in the class. That required him to be the most consistent racer to win races, and that may be the formula again this year, he said.

The Pro Outlaw and Outlaw classes, as well as five other “heads-up classes” are the featured events during the Muscle Car Series because they feature the fastest cars and a “heads-up” style of racing.

The Muscle Car Series starts Friday with qualifying and time trials on the drag strip. On Saturday, qualifying and time trials continue, followed by elimination rounds on Sunday.

BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course also will be busy with racing action all weekend, starting Wednesday with the three-day SCCA Competition Racing Licensing School. Drivers can take the course to get licensed for SCCA-sanctioned racing events, like the Harvey West Memorial Day Classic that will take place Saturday and Sunday.

The Classic features a variety of racing classes, which will have practice and qualifying sessions both days, followed by 10-lap races on Saturday and 12-lap races on Sunday. Saturday’s racing program ends with a 45-minute Enduro Race.

“The Street Car Showdown is our first major event of the year and really signals the beginning of the racing season for us,” BIR Owner Jed Copham said. “The SCCA brings super competitive road racing to BIR that weekend, and the Muscle Car Series really shows off some giant horsepower. It’s a great family event and a fun way to start the summer.”

Daily admission is $25, and kids 12 and under are free. Camping is free with the purchase of a multi-day ticket. Visit BrainerdRaceway.com for more details.

SCCA photo by Rick Corwine

Rain shortens drag racing, CRA Superbike racing

A soggy weather forecast for the first Bracket Drag Racing Series and Superbike weekend of the 2015 season didn’t seem to deter racers. Racers came out in full force to get a shot at BIR’s race track for the first time this year, in most cases.

Jimmy Paulson, foreground, beats Jeremy Berg in the first round.

Jimmy Paulson, foreground, beats Jeremy Berg in the first round.

Drag racers spent Friday testing their cars on the drag strip, and then competed on Saturday before the rain rolled in that evening and continued through most of Sunday. Seven of the 10 classes completed their elimination rounds on Saturday and determined winners.

The Central Roadracing Association’s (CRA) Superbike Racing was on the Competition Road Course all weekend. Dozens of bikes showed up for the first of five racing weekends at BIR this year. They had eight-lap sprints on Saturday as well as an 18-lap Trophy Dash. Click here for results.

On the drag strip, Mandy Anderson drove her 1979 Caprice to a Sportsman class finals win. Facing off against Grant Pesola, Anderson snuck off the starting line before Pesola and then inched past him at the finish line with a time of 12.985 seconds and 103.10 mph.

Mandy Anderson, Sportsman winner

Mandy Anderson, Sportsman winner

Josh Luberda, Street Trophy winner

Josh Luberda, Street Trophy winner

In the Pro Bike/Sled finals, Jimmy Paulsonand his Suzuki 1300 beat Cameron Belisle off the starting line and never looked back, taking the win with a 9.185-second pass at 130.95 mph.

Jared Hutar finished second in last year’s Comp Trophy final standings but will take an early lead in points this year by winning the class Saturday. He drove his ’94 Camaro to a win over Bryan Brager, who fouled at the starting line. Hutar finished with a 12.006-second pass at 111.69 mph.

Josh Luberda drove his 1970 Chevelle SS to a win Saturday in Street Trophy, beating Tyler Gadacz. Luberda nearly cut a perfect light on the starting line with a .001-second reaction time. He held off Gadacz for the win by running 14.143 seconds and 93.44 mph.

Jared Hutar won the Comp Trophy class.

Jared Hutar won the Comp Trophy class.

The Junior Dragsters were well represented this weekend as well, with 30 drivers competing. In Junior Dragster Advanced, Sarah Johnson beat Sydney Haben in the finals. Jazper Wiebusch beat Ashley Doffing in Junior Dragster Intermediate, and Dylan Dancer beat Travis Kurkosky in Junior Dragster Novice.

Results for the first Bracket Drag Racing Series race (Saturday only):

Super Pro
This class didn’t finish. The final three racers were Mike Campbell, Chuck Roycraft and Bruce Kaul

Pro ET
This class didn’t finish. The final four racers were Ken Drevnick, Joe Howell, Kaylyn Milton and Tevin Zavadill

Sportsman
Finals: Mandy Anderson of Sauk Rapids def. Grant Pesola of Duluth
Semifinals: Anderson had a bye; Pesola def. Layne Robertson of Litchfield

Stock/Super Stock
This class didn’t finish. The final two racers were Gene Mosbek and Alan Litke

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Jimmy Paulson of Stacy def. Cameron Belisle of Hugo
Semifinals: Paulson def. Mike Voss of Maplewood; Belisle def. Kyle Shilts of New Richmond, Wis.

Comp Trophy
Finals: Jared Hutar of Cromwell def. Bryan Brager of Pillager
Semifinals: Hutar def. Paul Songas of Stacy; Brager def. Tim McKenzie of Foley

Street Trophy
Finals: Josh Luberda of Foley def. Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls
Semifinals: Luberda had a bye; Gadacz def. Andrew Dancer of Royalton

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Sarah Johnson of Nowthen def. Sydney Haben of Hibbing
Semifinals: Johnson def. Erin Johnson of Anoka; Haben def. Paige Findell of Zimmerman

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Jazper Wiebusch of Ham Lake def. Ashley Doffing of Cottage Grove
Semifinals: Wiebusch def. Trevor Jelinski; Doffing def. Aaron Clampitt of Lino Lakes

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Dylan Dancer of Foley def. Travis Kurkosky of Annandale
Semifinals: Dancer def. Cameron Giese of Kandiyohi; Kurkosky def. Allyson Giese of Kandiyohi

Junior Dragster Youth
Finals: Daniel Dancer of Foley def. Brody Thompson of Nowthen
Semifinals: Dancer def. Carter Luberda of Foley; Thompson had a bye

On the track this weekend: Drag Racing, Superbikes

The 2015 racing season starts this weekend for more than 250 drivers in the Bracket Drag Racing Series as well as dozens of motorcycle riders from the Central Roadracing Association (CRA).

Drag racing and Superbike racing will take place simultaneously Friday through Sunday.

Reno_WOn the drag strip, the top two drivers with the largest targets on their backs will be the father-son duo of Gary and Reno Loeffelholz, who won series championships last year in the two biggest classes in the Bracket Drag Racing Series: Super Pro and Pro ET. Those championships were the first for both drivers, but hopefully not the last, they said.

This weekend’s Bracket Drag Racing Series features dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters (for kids ages 8-18). They’ll be competing for cash prizes and points in the six-weekend, 12-race series. Friday is a Test & Tune day for drivers as they make passes to get their cars dialed in for competition. On Saturday and Sunday, racers will get at least one round of time trials before elimination rounds begin, with winners in each of the 10 classes crowned at the end of both days.

RacingBIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course will be busy all weekend with Superbike racing, as the CRA takes over the track for the first of its five weekends at BIR.

Friday is for new riders and includes practice sessions. Saturday’s schedule includes practice, eight-lap sprints and 18-lap Trophy Dashes. Sunday’s schedule includes practice and eight-lap sprints.

Daily admission is $20. Kids 12 and younger are free. Tickets are available at the gate. Camping is free with a multi-day ticket.

PHOTOS:
Reno Loeffelholz, top, is the drag racer to beat in Pro ET.
Superbikes take on BIR’s road course this weekend. Photo by SDE

 

 

Wednesday Night Street Drags kick off this week

The first Wednesday Night Drags – Street Legal Style of the new season is this week!

The rules are the same as last year, just show up with your street legal car, truck or bike, an approved helmet and $25, and make as many runs on BIR’s world-class drag strip as time allows. But don’t come alone, load up your car with your buddies, family members and whoever else you can fit in your car. Admission is only $5 a head for spectators, and everyone needs a cheering section.

Drivers can use the burn-out box, the light tree and the scoreboard, and there’s even an announcer calling the action over the PA!

Last year, BIR also rotated in autocross or drifting. This week, drivers can try their hand at autocross, which is a challenging competition where drivers maneuver through a course set up with orange cones. The timed event really tests a driver’s skill level.

Thanks to NAPA Auto Parts, which is sponsoring the event again this year and will have representatives there to answer questions about cars and parts.

Let’s get the new Wednesday Night Drags program off to a great start this week.

Gates open at 4 p.m. and racing starts an hour later. Racing goes until dusk.

For more information, click here to go to the main Wednesday Night Street Drags page.

Bill Doolittle to be honored with tree re-dedication

The racing community at Brainerd International Raceway lost true friend a great champion of drag racing when Bill Doolittle passed away last month. DoolittleHe was 92.

Bill’s passion was NHRA drag racing and, for many years, he was a fixture on the starting line of BIR’s drag strip.

Bill will be honored this Saturday at the conclusion of racing. It’s BIR’s first Bracket Drag Racing Series race of the season. The family will be re-dedicating Kitty’s tree at the back of staging. Kitty was Bill’s beloved wife, who preceded him in death.

The event is open to all racers and fans.

Thank you from the Doolittle, Roberts and Pilarski families!

 

BIR’s 2015 racing schedule is packed with variety of events

Brainerd International Raceway’s 2015 racing schedule, a jam-packed lineup with new exciting events, long-running favorites and everything in between, kicks off this weekend with a pair of endurance road races.

The World Racing League takes on BIR’s road course for a nine-hour endurance race on Saturday and a seven-hour endure on Sunday. Tickets are available at the front gate.

The WRL launches a six-month schedule that reflects a combination of thrilling spectator events and an increasing number of opportunities for fans to try their hand at racing. Like in past years, though, the name of the game this year is diversity: drag racing, road racing, snowmobile watercross, Superbike racing, a cruising event, endurance racing, drifting and autocross competitions and the BIR Performance Driving School. The schedule even includes Lakes Jam, a three-day music and camping festival.

New to this year’s schedule is MN Time Attack, which is entering its inaugural season. This unique event, which is on BIR’s schedule in May and September, is a chance for race fans to get behind the wheel on BIR’s road course and test their driving skills against the clock.

One major change to the schedule involves the Trans Am Series, which was moved from the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout on Labor Day weekend to the PleasureLand RV Show & Go on Fourth of July weekend. The Trans Am Series’ 40-lap, 100-mile race on Sunday afternoon will be the weekend’s grand finale event.

Another change to the Show & Go’s racing program is the addition of National Auto Sport Association (NASA) road racing. BIR hosted a NASA race in 2012 but hasn’t been able to fit the series on the schedule again until this year. NASA brings an exciting brand of wheel-to-wheel road racing, which will be on Saturday and Sunday, prior to the Trans Am Series race.

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 a partnership between the Central Roadracing Association (CRA) and the Championship Cup Series from Texas.

The main attraction again this year is the 34th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, set for Aug. 20-23. BIR will be the center of the drag racing universe 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, bonfires, a parade of “partywagons,” rickshaw races and a lot more. Advance tickets are now on sale.

The schedule also is full of fun, affordable and “non-traditional” racing, such as the ChumpCar World Series, where teams of four drivers race $500 junkers during a 12-hour endurance race in August. The Aussie-style Powercruise is back for a fourth year, giving fans the chance to participate in several driving events throughout the weekend. The Modern Automotive Performance Proving Grounds returns for two weekends, with imports and sport compacts competing in drifting, autocross, drag racing and more.

“We’re always looking for different and unique types of racing for our fans,” BIR owner Jed Copham said. “We have a great mix of races again this year that feature national-level pro racers along with regional amateur drivers. And most of the racing is fun and affordable family entertainment.”

The drag strip will be busy this year with six weekends reserved for the Bracket Drag Racing Series, where 250-plus amateurs compete in dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters for series championships and cash prizes. The three-race Muscle Car Series (Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends) showcases huge horsepower and super-fast cars that battle with series championships on the line.

When most people think of BIR, they think of spectator races, 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 driving 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.

“I think that’s one of our best-kept secrets at BIR,” Copham said. “Many people don’t know that they can come here and compete 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.”

$16,000 bounty for ET Finals wins

Racers in BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series this year have another 16,000 reasons to earn a spot on BIR’s ET Finals team. That’s because BIR has put a bounty totaling $16,000 cash on class wins.

Here’s how it breaks down:
$4,000 for Super Pro and Pro ET wins
$3,000 for Sportsman and Race of Champions wins
$2,000 for a Motorcycle win
$800 in BIR Bucks for a High School win

The ET Finals is Sept. 19-21 at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan. Each year, BIR puts together a team of drivers from its Bracket Drag Racing Series based on their position in the points standings and their availability. BIR’s team typically includes at least 30 racers who compete against more than 600 other racers representing 16 other race tracks across the Midwest and Canada. BIR finished third last year and regularly has one of the strongest teams in the competition.

The other teams come from tracks in the five-state area plus Nebraska, Missouri, Kansas, Wyoming, Colorado and Canada. Teams compete in five classes – Super Pro, Pro ET, Sportsman, Motorcycle and High School – with individual and team honors, $100,000 in prize money and contingency awards on the line. The class champions also go on to Pomona, Calif., in November for a chance to be crowned champion at the Auto Club NHRA Finals.

The ET Finals also includes the Race of Champions, which is a race within a race. Each team identifies one driver in each of the five classes to represent the team in the Race of Champions. Those drivers are then paired up in an elimination format by class to determine the Race of Champions winner, who is next in line if the class champion is unable to compete in Pomona. The winner of the High School Class wins a $1,000 scholarship. Time trials are Friday and Saturday, with eliminations on Sunday. The Race of Champions is Saturday as well.

 

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