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.”