2021 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals set for Aug. 19-22

Nitro-fueled NHRA drag racing returns to Brainerd International Raceway for the 39th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals on Aug. 19-22, 2021, the NHRA announced today.

BIR’s race will be one of 22 races on the NHRA’s calendar, starting March 12-14 with the 52nd annual AMALIE Motor Oil Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway and ending Nov. 12-14 with the Auto Club NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif.

BIR’s NHRA Nationals fans will be thrilled to have the Nitro cars back in Brainerd after the NHRA was forced to cancel this year’s race due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Fans can get full credit for the tickets they purchased for the 2020 NHRA Nationals.

“We can’t wait for August 19th, and I know our fans will be really amped up for the race after having to take this year off,” BIR Owner Kristi Copham said. “We can’t thank our fans enough for being patient and understanding during last season. We felt horrible for having to cancel the race because our fans are the best drag racing fans in the world and deserve to get their annual dose of Nitro each year, not to mention some quality time in The Zoo. We’re looking forward to putting on a great event next summer as we welcome everyone back.”

The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals will have a significantly different look next year as the NHRA announced that Camping World is the new sponsor for its premier professional series, now called the NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series. Details on Top Fuel, Funny Car, Pro Stock and Pro Stock Motorcycle qualifying days as well as special exhibitions and specialty series that compete at the NHRA’s Nationals events will be announced in the coming weeks.      

Next year’s NHRA Nationals will have added significance as the NHRA celebrates its 70th anniversary. Fans will experience special treats and features to commemorate that milestone and honor the NHRA’s vast history.

The NHRA also extended its partnership with FOX Sports that will include more TV coverage. All 22 events will be aired exclusively on FOX Sports with select events on the FOX broadcast network.

BIR’s ET Finals team takes 2nd. Again.

For the third year in a row, a team of drag racers from Brainerd International Raceway last weekend came up just short of winning the annual NHRA Summit Racing ET Finals team event at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kan. The team finished second.

Jason Charlton and Shawn Carlson provided the biggest highlights for BIR’s team. Both earned their way to the finals of their class but Charlton closed the deal by winning the Pro ET class, which earned him a check for $5,000 from BIR and a trip to the Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next month to compete for a national title during the Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil.

Carlson lost in the finals of the Sportsman class, missing a chance to race in Las Vegas with Charlton by a fraction of a second.

Charlton and Carlson were two of the 36 racers on BIR’s team, which competed in five classes: Super Pro, Pro ET, Sportsman, Motorcycle and High School. In all, 16 race tracks from throughout the Midwest sent teams to the ET Finals, with nearly 600 drag racers battling for the chance to compete in Las Vegas.

The teams competing in the ET Finals are from dragstrips in the NHRA’s West Central Division, which stretches from Wyoming to Wisconsin and from Colorado to Kansas, including part of Canada.

Congratulations to all the racers who competed! Making BIR proud! 

Jason Charlton
Shawn Carlson
Jason Charlton


Heading to Vegas! Jason Charlton, Patrick Shawn Roetto (Motorcycle), Larry Piper (Super Pro), Luke Siebert (Sportsman)







BIR sends 2 drag racing teams to the NHRA Summit Racing ET Finals

Brainerd International Raceway today announced the list of drag racers who comprise two teams representing the track this weekend during the NHRA West Central Summit Racing ET Finals at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan.

BIR’s ET Finals teams have taken second place the last two years, so everyone’s zeroed in on a championship this year. The team will be competing against teams from 16 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 500 racers are expected to compete.

The BIR drag racers compete in the track’s Bracket Drag Racing Series, which was supposed to be a six-weekend, 12-race series this year before the Covid-19 pandemic shortened the season.

The ET Finals has five classes: Super Pro, Pro ET, Sportsman, Motorcycle 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 next month in Las Vegas. BIR rewards its drivers with payouts for class wins. For example, anyone who wins the Super Pro or Pro ET class will win an additional $5,000. In Sportsman, a class win means $4,000; $3,000 for Motorcycle and $2,000 to the parents of the racer in the High School class. Anyone who wins the Race of Champions title pockets an additional $500.  

The racers competing for the trip to Las Vegas are those selected for the Race of Champions. Each team identifies one racer in each of four classes (not High School) to represent the team in the Race of Champions. Racers are paired up in an elimination format by class to determine the class champions, which advance to compete against the top drivers from the NHRA’s six other divisions. The BIR teammates competing in the Race of Champions are Chris Bishop (Super Pro), Jason Charlton (Pro ET), Shawn Carlson (Sportsman) and Max Niesen (Motorcycle).

Below are BIR’s teams. The first name under the class name for Team 1 will compete in the Race of Champions:


Super Pro
Chris Bishop – Grand Rapids – ROC
Amy Jo Luberda – Sauk Rapids
Keith Johnson – Nowthen
Tom Carlson – Two Harbors
Dan Haight – St. Cloud
Brian Johnson – Nowthen
Donnie Durenberger – Dayton
Tevin Zavadil – St. Joseph
Randy Merrill – Brooklyn Park
Travis Reutzel – Howard Lake
Mike Campbell – Roseville
Steve Roehrs – Fredric, Wis.

Pro ET
Jason Charlton – Grand Rapids – ROC
Travis Reutzel – Howard Lake
Mike Sandstrom – Aitkin
Brian Johnson – Nowthen
Kayla Noyes – Oak Grove
Tevin Zavadil – St. Joseph
Mike Casteel – Thief River Falls
Lane Zuidema – Zimmerman
Dave Engler – Zimmerman
Bob Ingman – Andover
Nick Engler – Clear Lake
Brad Mickle – Lino Lakes
Travis Hjelle – Karlstad

Shawn Carlson – Elbow Lake – ROC
Grant Pesola – Nashwauk
Troy Luberda – Foley
Dan Butler – Fargo, N.D.
Jerry Hieb – Maple Grove
Joe Moriarty – Ham Lake
Luke Schneider – St. Joseph

Max Niesen – Brooklyn Park – ROC
Jason Ponsness – Foley
Brad Harder – Waconia
Brooke Neyssen – Foley

High School
Jazper Wiebusch – Ham Lake
Samantha Cielinski – Gilman
Jack Anderson – Holdingford



Super Pro
Toby Giese – Kandiyohi
Trevor Wirtjes – Melrose
Ron Wirtjes- Beardsley
Troy Luberda – Foley
Wyatt Niesen – Brooklyn Park
Jason Charlton – Grand Rapids
Bob Thiel – Dumont
Jeff Rue – Waverly
Dan Gilgosch – St. Paul
Jim Higgins – South Haven
Tanner Schiffner – West Fargo, N.D.
Mike Anderson – St. Joseph
John Helmin – Rice
Joel Sandstrom – Pengilly

Pro ET
Dan Wiebusch – Ham Lake
Trevor Wirtjes – Melrose

James Findell – Zimmerman
Steve Roehrs – Frederic, Wis

Pro Bike
Donnie Durenberger – Dayton
Wyatt Niesen – Brooklyn Park
Toby Giese – Kandiyohi
Billy Devries – Brainerd

Muscle Car Shootout caps off summer for series racers

BIR’s Muscle Car Series may have been shortened by the Covid-19 pandemic this season but drag racers came out of the woodwork last weekend to finish off the series – and the summer – during the 32nd Annual GSTA Muscle Car Shootout.

By the end of the weekend, the Winner’s Circle was visited by a few familiar faces but most were hoisting BIR hardware for the first time in the series. That will create an interesting finish in the point standings, with series championships are on the line in 13 classes.

Vern Laurin Jr., Outlaw Pro Mod
Troy Bednarz, Outlaw
Brian Mahnke, King Street

The three-race Muscle Car Series became a two-race series after the pandemic caused the cancellation of the Street Car Showdown on Memorial Day weekend. That left the PleasureLand RV Show & Go on the Fourth of July weekend and the Shootout to determine the series champs.

One racer who won’t repeat as a series champion this year is Rick Schmidt in Outlaw Pro Mod. Always flirting with a 5-second run, Schmidt was a no-show for both races this year, opening the door for someone else to take the title. Vern Laurin Jr. is a candidate after driving his 2008 Dodge Stratus to a finals win over No. 1 qualifier Lee Loew. Loew was the No. 1 qualifier and had the fastest car on the track last weekend but he fouled at the starting line, handing the win to Laurin.

Randy Belehar, Real Street Unlimited
Jeff Saucier, Real Street Natural
Jeff Richards, LS 660

The Outlaw class will have a new champ as well. Defending champion Todd Mueller didn’t race this year, so Troy Bednarz took advantage by beating past champion and No. 1 qualifier Jake Delmonico. In a great finals race, Bednarz and his 1967 Camaro eeked out the win with a time of 7.010 seconds at 206.80 mph. Delmonico and his ’68 Camaro ran 7.147 seconds at 194.16 mph.

For many years, Brian Mahnke dominated the King Street class, but gave way the past couple of seasons to other drivers. He looked like the Mahnke of old last weekend when he swept the 23-driver field as the No. 1 qualifier and then beat Jake Waste in the finals. Driving his ’72 Camaro, Mahnke’s winning time was 7.986 seconds at 176.10 mph, compared to Waste’s 8.482 seconds at 172.47 mph.

Gary Anderson, 660 OS

The 660 Outlaw Street class was a two-driver slugfest this season, featuring Gary Anderson and Chris Gullickson. Anderson and his 2010 Camaro completed the two-race sweep Sunday by beating Gullickson in the finals again. Anderson was the No. 1 qualifier in both races and proved too much for Gullickson, winning the finals with a time of 4.615 seconds and 165.05 mph in the eighth-mile class. Gullickson, who finished third in points last season, ran 6.093 seconds and 104.63 mph.

Eric Dethlefs won the Index Class Championship with a finals win over Brandon Hemenway with a winning time of 9.515 seconds and 135.43 mph. Dethlefs was the 9.50 Index class winner. He and the winners of the other nine Index classes faced off in a run-down for the Index class crown.

Below are the finals rounds from Sunday’s eliminations.

Outlaw Pro Mod
Finals: Vern Laurin Jr. of Duluth def. Lee Loew of Darwin

Finals: Troy Bednarz of Nowthen def. Jake Delmonico of St. Paul Park

King Street
Finals: Brian Mahnke of Proctor def. Jake Waste of Corona, Calif.

Real Street Unlimited
Finals: Randy Belehar of Detroit Lakes def. Jacob Cooney of Cedar

Real Street Natural
Finals: Jeff Saucier of New Hope def. Bob Wallin of Superior, Wis.

Limited Street 660
Finals: Jeffrey Richards of Bloomington def. Greg Schmidt of Brainerd

660 Outlaw Street
Finals: Gary Anderson of Ogilvie def. Chris Gullickson of North Branch

Street Eliminator 1
Finals: David Imgrund of Brainerd def. Zach Stengel of Blaine

Street Eliminator 2
Finals: Ben Awaijane of Shoreview def. Josh Maras of Farmington

Street Eliminator 3
Finals: Joleigh Hoffman def. Kurt Loftis of Merrifield

Truck Eliminator
Finals: Mike Marchell of Park Rapids def. Branden Swanson of Ham Lake

Manual Transmission
Finals: David Brambrink of Big Lake def. Mike Hed of Menahga

Index Class Champion
Finals: Eric Dethlefs of St. Cloud def. Brandon Hemenway of Park Rapids

9.50 Index
Finals: Eric Dethlefs of St. Cloud def. Jesse Haugesag of Shakopee

10.00 Index
Finals: Larry Curtis of Bethel def. RJ Laase of Duluth

10.50 Index
Finals: Dan Ciskovsky of Princeton def. Guy Stengel of Blaine

11.00 Index
Finals: Nick Pirkola of Duluth def. Leon Vinkemeier of Belle Plaine

11.50 Index
Finals: Karl Eckhardt of Pequot Lake s def. TJ Tharaldson of East Bethel

12.00 Index
Finals: Nathan Olson of Sartell def. Shawn Hammre of Zimmerman

12.50 Index
Finals: Brandon Hemenway of Park Rapids def. Brian Hollan of Anoka

13.00 Index
Finals: Jesse Backstrom of Grand Marais def. Charlie Siegel of Carver

13.50 Index
Finals: John Peterson of St. Michael def. Carl Reinecclus of Princeton

14.00 Index
Finals: Kurt Loftis of Merrifield def. Dan Hyttsten of Becker

NHRA officially cancels BIR’s 2020 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals

The NHRA announced that BIR’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals has been officially canceled this year.

Originally scheduled for Aug. 13-16, the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The NHRA and BIR hoped to reschedule it this month but BIR’s location and climate this time of year presented scheduling challenges.

Those who purchased tickets for this year’s Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals will receive full credit for next year’s event. 

“We feel horrible having to deliver this news today because we have thousands of loyal fans who look forward to Nationals every year and plan their entire summer around it,” BIR Owner Kristi Copham said. “We also feel for local businesses that rely on the added revenue from Nationals weekend. It’s been a difficult summer for everyone, but we appreciate everyone’s support and we hope to see everyone at next year’s Nationals.”

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series has six events left on the 2020 schedule, including this weekend at Indianapolis and concluding Oct. 30-Nov. 1 for the Dodge NHRA Finals presented by Pennzoil in Las Vegas.

BIR still has upcoming events on this season’s schedule, including the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout this weekend, the Wet & Wild Weekend Sept. 18-20, drag racing, autocross and Standing Start on Sept. 25-27 and Central Roadracing Association Superbike racing on Oct. 2-4.

BIR hires Andre Serra to lead the Performance Driving School

The BIR Performance Driving School, which is based at Brainerd International Raceway and has instructed hundreds of racers, car enthusiasts, law enforcement officers and students over the last two decades, has a new director: long-time driving instructor Andre Serra.

Serra took over the school’s leadership role today after the departure of Gary Curtis, who had been a driving instructor for more than 20 years and was the school’s director since 2011.

“We’re really excited to have Andre join our team,” BIR Owner Kristi Copham said. “He’s got 30 years of instructing experience at schools across the country and is well connected in this industry. He’s got some great ideas on how to grow the school and give our fans more opportunities to experience the thrill of high-performance driving.”

Serra, a native of Brazil, raced as a youth before moving to the United States 30 years ago. He’s been a driving instructor and racing coach ever since at programs like the Skip Barber Racing School, AMG Driving Academy, BMW Performance Driving School, Porsche Driving School and the Audi Driving Experience, among many more. He’s also worked with car manufacturers to help launch new models and is typically a fixture at annual car shows around the country.

“I think the potential for this track is incredible,” Serra said about BIR. “I want to work with everyone here as a team to really build this program.” Among the ideas he’s got for the school is a drifting school, an expanded ride-along program and events for car manufacturers, which will come about as the result of his vast connections with manufacturers.

As for this year, the BIR Performance Driving School has been open for all its scheduled school dates, while taking measures to satisfy the state’s Covid-19 safety guidelines. The remainder of the 2020 schedule will stay intact as well, with scheduled school dates and private events being held as originally planned.


Proving Grounds 2.0 is on!

Close out summer and drift into fall. PG2 is scheduled for Aug. 28-30 and will feature autocross, drifting  and road course. We have a limited number of racer, crew and spectator entries. All driver registrations will open at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug 13, so grab your spot early!

Road Course and autocross participants will register on Motorsports Reg. A link will be posted once registration opens.

Drifters can register by clicking here.  

Camping is allowed. For camping in our PleasureLand RV VIP Campground, click here

Admission prices:
Thursday-Sunday – $60 (in advance) / $65 (day of at the gate)
Friday-Sunday – $55 (in advance) / $60 (day of at the gate)
Saturday-Sunday – $45 (in advance) / $50 (day of at the gate)
Friday Only – $30
Saturday Only – $30
Sunday Only – $30

All drivers (for all events) need to purchase gate admission by clicking here.

Non-drivers can purchase their gate admission by clicking here

First-ever Big Tire/Small Tire Shootout was big hit

The first-ever Big Tire/Small Tire Shootout was a huge success Saturday. Organized by a small group of drag racers after Thunder at the Lakes Divisional Race was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Saturday-only race brought out a wide variety of cars and drivers.

Thanks to the sponsors that stepped up and made this event possible: CJ Tunes, One Guys Garage, Lakeside Cabinets & Woodworking, Paradigm Automotive, Nate Built Racing, DB Performance, NC3, Immortal Insulation, Lakes Equipment Repair, Norm’s Tire Sales, Arrow Components, Certiflat Welding Tables, Northstar Towing, Devito Racing Compound, Tab & Slot, Central Heating & Cooling, No Name Racecars, and Performance Drivetrain Solutions.  

Below are the finals for each class.

CJ Tunes & One Guy’s Garage Cruise Class
Finals: Josh Shongs of Rochester def. Brian Mahnke

Lakeside Cabinets & Woodworking Street DOT Class
Finals: Dan Thelin of Sisseton, S.D. def. Andy Lehrer of St. Paul Park

Paradigm Automotive Big Tire Class
Finals: Richard Lachenmeier of Mandan, N.D. def. Jake Delmonico of St. Paul Park

NC3 Small Tire Class
Finals: Richard Brown of Waseca def. Gary Anderson of Ogilvie

6.50 Index
Finals: Shawn Kloss of Chippewa Falls, Wis. def. RJ Laase of Duluth

7.50 Index
Finals: Chad Hoffman of Lafayette def. Cole Carpenter of Forest Lake

Stock Class
Finals: Marde Munkberg of Apple Valley def. Phillip Campbell of Burnsville

Nate Built Racing Import Small Turbo Class
Finals: Vilai Xuong of Wausau, Wis. def. James Harsma of Owatonna

DB Performance Import Big Turbo Class
Finals: Nate Comphar of Minneapolis def. Wade Deslauriers of Oak Grove

10.00 Index
Finals: RJ Laase of Duluth def. David Sash of Duluth

10.50 Index
Finals: Cameron Dorion of Nisswa def. Scott Nettell of Devils Lake, N.D.

11.00 Index
Finals: Nick Pirkola of Duluth def. Steve Matsch of Hastings

11.50 Index
Finals: Dillan Weinand of Sartell def. Scott Ehresmann of Cold Spring

12.00 Index
Finals: Joe Riendeau of

Track time is available! It’s more affordable than you think.

Get off the couch and get on the gas! BIR has always had many opportunities for people to try their hand at high performance driving, but now groups of all sizes can schedule an affordable play day on our 2.5-mile Competition Road Course.

The COVID-19 pandemic has freed up some track time here at BIR so we’re making it available to car clubs, organizations, corporations and groups of friends who want to spend a fun day getting a hefty dose of driving on a world-class road course. This year, we’ve also made track rental more affordable for small groups (1-24 people).

Most of the dates still available this season are weekdays, but there also a few weekend days that have opened up, including Aug. 15-16. That weekend was reserved for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals before it was postponed. Pricing varies based on group size, days of the week requested and add-on services such as catered lunches and professional driving instruction.

Small groups of friends can have their day at the track for a flat fee, which includes the cost for insurance, corner workers/fire-rescue, r ace control and EMT. The day starts with a safety meeting for all drivers and basic instruction for experienced drivers unfamiliar with the BIR road course.

Here are the available dates:

August 10, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, 27

September 3, 9, 26, 27, 30

October 8 and all days after that.

For more information and pricing, call BIR’s Ticket Office at 866-444-4455 or 218-824-RACE (7223).


New event! Drag racers have a shot at $10,000

BIR has added a new drag race – the Brainerd $10K Bracket National – on Aug. 14-16 to replace the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, which was postponed. The new race gives drivers a chance to win $10,000 Saturday and Sunday. 

Friday is a Test & Tune Day with a 32-Car Shootout. Saturday and Sunday will be eliminations with a $10,000 prize going to the winner each day. Runner up each day takes home $2,000.

In addition to the big money race, BIR will have the following classes:

$80 entry (payout will change with increased entry fee)
Winner – Guaranteed $700 to top of normal BIR payout
Runner Up – Guaranteed $200 to top of normal BIR payout
PLUS – $150 to best package

Stock/Super Stock
$115 entry (payout will change with increased entry fee)
Winner – Guaranteed $950 to the top of normal BIR payout
Runner Up – Guaranteed $300 to the top of normal BIR Payout
PLUS – $250 to best package

$85 entry (payout will change with increased entry fee)
Winner – Guaranteed $850 to the top of normal BIR payout
Runner Up – Guaranteed $250 to the top of normal BIR payout
PLUS – $250 to best package

Junior Dragster – Advanced, Intermediate, Novice
$30 entry
Winner – $150 BIR Bucks
Runner Up – $50 BIR Bucks
Trophies will not be provided this weekend
Other donations we received will also be used as prizes

Reaction Time Award! – $100 to the first 000

Giz/No Giz Race Rules

Winner and runner-up purses are guaranteed.
Giz and No Giz will be run on 1/8-mile track.
Buy-Backs are allowed for the 1st round and run against each other the 2nd round.
256 entries maximum.
1 time trial per day.
Race will be run as a No Box/Box separate with a winner in each class running in a Big Money Final if the number of rounds are equal.
Double entries are allowed.
If one class runs fewer rounds, the winner will be paid out a bonus and have to join other class.
Crosstalk will be on for all box runs and in the Big Money Final.
Each class is laddered at 8 cars.
Ladders are determined by the best winning reaction time from the previous round.
First round bye selected as a random draw.
Other bye runs will be chosen by best winning reaction time from previous round.
Ties are broken by the best package.
Under 128 cars may affect round payout.
Round money is posted guaranteed.
If even pairing happens, the bye car gets lane choice.
Byes will carry over until used or lost.
Lane choice is by first-come basis.
Once all even paired lanes are run, the remaining racers will be paired in line and the lead car will choose lane.
No refunds.
If the race is not completed, the payout will be split between the remaining winners from the previous round.
Random inspections may be done at any time.
Once cars leave staging, dial-ins cannot be changed and must be visible to the Tower and competitors.
2-minute rule is enforced for all breakage.
Slew rate controls are prohibited.
Bike/Sleds are allowed.
NHRA rules will be enforced.
A failure to follow the rules will results in forfeiture of all entry money.
Box – door cars run separate until ladder round.
Last remaining door car in line will run a dragster.
Limited switch/stutter box prohibited.
Altereds will run with dragsters in box class.
Delay box must be removed from the vehicle with no exceptions.
No timers or mechanical counters are allowed except for air/electricac shifters.
Rainout Policy: The race is considered complete after the 2nd round. Race is considered complete once one of the two races are complete. In the event of a complete rain-out, the track will try to reschedule and may be shortened at BIR’s discretion. If the schedule does not permit a reschedule, all entry money can be credited or refunded for that day of racing.

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