BIR salutes series champs, honors others during Racer Banquet

Although the 2020 race season is still two months away, Brainerd International Raceway and a ballroom full of racers, family members and friends celebrated all things drag racing Feb. 22 during BIR’s annual Racer Banquet.

The banquet was held at Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes, attracting 251 people – a record number – all of who attended to honor the champions of BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series and the Muscle Car Series, as well as four individuals who made significant contributions to racing at BIR.

Lance Line, left, and emcee Ron Zenzen

Lance Line was one of those individuals who goes above and beyond to help fellow racers and their families during race weekends. Line was awarded the Joe Angelo Sportsmanship Award for displaying great sportsmanship toward other racers. Line races in the Bracket Drag Racing Series in the Stock/Super Stock class.

Toby Giese, left, and Al Schmidt from Paradigm Performance

Al Schmidt, from sponsor Paradigm Performance in Brainerd, presented the fifth annual Dick Roe Appreciation Award to Toby Giese for his outstanding service to the drag racing community. Giese, a long-time racer in the Bracket Drag Racing Series, can be found helping out around the track in a variety of capacities during most race weekends.

Jazper Wiebusch, left, and emcee Ron Zenzen

Jazper Wiebusch, who graduated from BIR’s Junior Dragster program after the 2018 season, won the 2019 Rookie of the Year Award after she drive her 1997 Thunderbird to a third-place finish in the Bracket Drag Racing Series’ Street Trophy class last season.

BIR Ticketing Manager Stephanie Wieczorek, left, and BIR owner Kristi Copham

One of the highlights of the night, though, was when racer Ron Zenzen presented his annual Outstanding Dedication Award, which he presents each year to individuals for their years of support and involvement in the sport of drag racing. Zenzen selected two people this year for the award: BIR owner Kristi Copham and BIR Ticketing Manager Stephanie Wieczorek, both of who work tirelessly all year round to ensure that the track is a welcoming place for racers and fans alike.

The Bracket Drag Racing Series was well represented at the banquet, with eight of the 11 series champs in attendance. The series was seven weekends long last year, with winners crowned both Saturday and Sunday each week. The series typically attracted about 250 dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters.

Bracket series champs: Front row from left, Rodney Thompson, Brody Thompson, Dylan Dancer, Lily Covington. Back row, Bob Ingman, Grant Pesola, Keith Larson, Bruce Sampson

Eight of the 13 Muscle Car Series winners were in attendance as well. The three-race series typically included more than 300 cars. The Street Car Showdown is Memorial Day weekend, followed by the PleasureLand RV Show & Go on the Fourth of July weekend and the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout on Labor Day weekend.

Muscle Car Series champs: Front row from left, Gary Olson, Nathan Olson, Steve Enberg, Jim Lane. Back row, Dan Gefre, Dave Feders, Bob Wallin, Mike Hed

The winners in both series took home a personalized jacket and a hefty trophy.

The Bracket Drag Racing Series champs:

Super Pro – Rodney Thompson, Nowthen
Pro ET – Bob Ingman, Andover
Sportsman – Grant Pesola, Nashwauk
Stock/Super Stock – Brad Haugaard, Ham Lake
Pro Bike/Sled – Bruce Sampson, Forest Lake
Comp Trophy – Ryan Athman, St. Cloud
Street Trophy – Keith Larson, Brainerd
Quick 16 – Bryce Miller, Maple Lake
Junior Dragster Advanced – Dylan Dancer, Foley
Junior Dragster Intermediate – Brody Thompson, Nowthen
Junior Dragster Novice – Lily Covington, Merrifield

The Muscle Car Series Champs:

Outlaw Pro Mod – Rick Schmidt, Dickinson, N.D.
Outlaw – Todd Mueller, Ham Lake
King Street – Dave Feders, Isanti
Real Street Natural – Bob Wallin, Superior, Wis.
Real Street Unlimited – Jason Rolow, Anoka
True Street – Jason King, Saginaw
660 Outlaw Street – Dan Gefre, Ramsey
Strip Eliminator 1 – Gary Olson, Sartell
Strip Eliminator 2 – Nathan Olson, Sartell
Strip Eliminator 3 – Steve Enberg, Big Lake
Truck Eliminator – Dan Hyttsten, Becker
Manual Transmission – Mike Hed, Menagha
Index Class Champion – Jim Lane, Brainerd