BIR takes first at ET Finals; Schmall, Paulson win classes

A 40-member drag racing team from Brainerd International Raceway won first place last weekend at the NHRA West Central Summit Racing ET Finals at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan.

Two of the racers, Brandon Schmall and Jimmy Paulson, also won their respective classes.

BIR’s team competed against teams from 15 other tracks in the NHRA’s West Central Division, which stretches from Wyoming to Wisconsin and from Colorado to Kansas, including part of Canada. More than 450 drivers raced in five different classes.

Brandon Schmall won Sportsman Class Race of Champions
Brandon Schmall won Sportsman Class Race of Champions
Jimmy Paulson won the Pro Bike Race of Champions
Jimmy Paulson won the Pro Bike Race of Champions

“We always have a very competitive team at the ET Finals but it’s been a while since we’ve won it all,” BIR Owner Jed Copham said. “This was a very strong team and everyone raced really well so we’re excited for them.”

Schmall raced in both the Sportsman and Pro ET classes, but he was also selected to represent the team in the Sportman Class Race of Champions. Each team picks one racer in each class to compete in a Race of Champion to determine the best of the best. Schmall qualified 12th of 15 racers but dialed in his 1974 Dart and benefited from consistent reaction times at the starting line. His winning time in the finals was 12.292 seconds at 94.13 mph.

“It was definitely a nice feeling to win it,” he said. “You catch some luck and the car runs great, and this is what happens.”

Paulson gave a lot of credit to his drag bike for his Race of Champions win in the Pro Bike Class. “The bike ran flawlessly all weekend,” he said. “The rider did his job when he had to.”

Like Schmall, Paulson increased his chances of winning with quick reaction times on the starting line and consistent passes. He qualified sixth of the 10 racers who competed. In the finals, he ran 9.137 seconds and 136.68 mph.

The 2015 BIR ET Finals Team
The 2015 BIR ET Finals Team

Two of Paulson’s  teammates, Mike Voss and Jeremy Berg, advanced to the semifinals in the Pro Bike Class elimination rounds before losing. Also of note, Reno Loeffelholz and Joe Howell advanced to the quarterfinal rounds in Pro ET before getting knocked off. Tracy Arneson also won her way to the quarterfinals in the High School Class before losing. She also raced in the High School Race of Champions and qualified No. 2 but lost in the second round.

The drag racers on BIR’s team earned their way onto the roster based on the success they’ve had in BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series, which is a six-weekend, 12-race series with one weekend left (Sept. 26-27). The racers on the team are at the top of the point standings in their respective classes.

The ET Finals has five classes: Super Pro, Pro ET, Sportsman, Pro Bike and High School. At stake are individual and team honors, prize money and contingency awards. Some drivers even have a shot at earning a trip to compete for a national championship in Ponoma, Calif., during the NHRA’s Auto Club Finals in November.

Below are the members of BIR’s ET Finals team:

Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer (Race of Champions)
Dan Narusiewicz of St. Paul Park
Tony Leonard of Hastings
Bruce Kaul of Racine
Ryan Schelek of St. Cloud
Mike Campbell of Roseville
Mike Anderson of St. Joseph
Brian Johnson of Nowthen
Steve Roehrs of Frederic, Wis.
Wally Higby of Maple Grove
Larry Wiebusch of Coon Rapids
Chris Anderson of Eagan
Myron Streit of St. Cloud

Reno Loeffelholz of Shafer (Race of Champions)
Joe Howell of Big Lake
Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes
Dave Engler of Ramsey
Travis Reutzel of Annandale
Mike Casteel of Thief River Falls
Steve Brings of Howard Lake
Chuck Roycraft of Minnetonka
Scott Dugdale of Stacy
Jenna Jahnke of Stillwater
Tevin Zavadil of Clearwater
Tony Leonard of Hastings

Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes (Race of Champions)
Lee Dugdale of Scandia
Joe Moriarty Sr of Ham Lake
Russ Elzy of Becker
Brad Mickle of Lino Lakes
Rory Emmans of Nowthen
Steve Elzy of Lindstrom

Jimmy Paulson of Stacy (Race of Champions)
Mike Voss of Maplewood
Jeremy Berg of Newport
Kyle Olson, Moorland, Iowa

Tracy Arneson of Pillager

Steve Roehrs of Frederic, Wis.
Michelle Emmans of Nowthen