The Central Roadracing Association’s final sprint races and its annual 5-hour Endurance Race signaled the end of its season, as riders took their final laps of the year on Brainerd International Raceway’s historic 3.1-mile Donnybrooke Road Course.
Reigning champion Brian Hebeisen ended his season by taking his Fisk Brothers Racing Yamaha R6 to multiple victories across the Middleweight and Heavyweight Expert classes. Champion-elect Kyle Ohnsorg sat out most of the sprint races on Saturday to recover from some unfortunate injuries suffered in a testing crash on the run up to the weekend, opening the door for a few familiar faces in victory lane.
The CRA’s fifth and final event of the season at BIR was part of the Wet & Wild Weekend, which also featured the International Watercross Association on Lake BIR, where snowmobiles defied gravity by drag racing and oval racing on open water.
Back on the track, the Unlimited Expert class saw two surprising – and very welcomed – trips to victory lane as Christian Schmidt returned from injury to take a win on his Rocky Mountain Kawasaki ZX-10R in Unlimited Supersport, and Bell Helmets rider Shane Keaveny took the top spot in Unlimited Superbike after a fantastic three-rider battle between Keaveny, Schmidt and Scott Stall, who got his revenge in Unlimited GP, snagging a comfortable win in the last sprint race of the season.
Hebeisen had the field covered in Middleweight and Heavyweight expert aside from Middleweight GP when Justin Ebnet beat Hebeisen to the line by one-tenth of a second. However, the shock of the weekend wasn’t Round 4 winner Jes Schwartz’s Yamaha R6 being swallowed up by a swamp monster just outside of turn 9, it was a resurgence of Josh Harein, who worked to get back up to speed in the August round after suffering multiple injuries in the beginning part of the season and was back in the battle for the podium positions in September.
The Lightweight classes offered up some of the best racing of the weekend as BIR’s mile-long straightaway made it difficult for riders to break away from each other. Harry Jensen continued his late-season run of form, coming home with multiple victories, and Brad Kreller put a few people on alert as he took the Ultralight-spec Krämer HKR-EVO2S to the top step in Lightweight Supersport against the Suzuki SV650 and Yamaha FZ-07 class stalwarts.
Ultralight and Featherweight were home to the typical Donnybrooke draft battles but with Ohnsorg sitting out all but the Featherweight Supersport race, the classes were dominated by Brad Kreller, who took home the win in every Ultralight and Featherweight race he entered. Aside from Kreller, the stars of the class were undoubtedly Robin Schmidt for her continued climb up the finishing order and Amanda Kreller for her never-quit attitude after stalling on the start two consecutive races. Not to be deterred, once she fired her Yamaha R3 to life she was able to chase down the tail end of the field and make up a few positions in each race. Just to keep her ego down, her husband Brad lapped her on the final lap in one of the races – on her birthday of all days. We are happy to report that Brad found the couch VERY comfortable that evening.
The 5-hour Endurance Race proved to be an unusually extreme race of attrition as Central Minnesota’s Jekyll & Hyde weather brought unpredicted cold and strong winds to the Brainerd area all weekend. This caught out MANY riders as it was difficult for some teams to keep heat in their front tires. The conditions were so bad that tires were colder after a 45-minute race stint than they were when they were taken off of tire warmers. Evidence of the tricky conditions could be found in the multiple fiberglass and tire marks on the entrance to the notorious turn 4. With the left side of the tires not touching the track for more than a minute on even the fastest bikes, the temperature on that side of the tire drops drastically in the cold weather and many riders suffered the consequences as their races ended or, in some cases, didn’t even begin in the dirt outside of Turn 4.
After a close second place in last year’s 5-hour race, A Tale of Three Toes riders Josh Harein and Clark Davis teamed up again (this time without Drew See, unfortunately) with the addition of Jes Schwartz and took top honors with a convincing victory. Goat Bros. Racing Take Two (Jesse Nelson, Jake Schmotter, Scott Stall) suffered mechanical problems and Sitzfleisch (Brian Hebeisen, Kyle Ohnsorg, Chase Sellers) suffered gravity problems in Turn 4.
With the two favorites in the GP4 class – Sitzfleisch and Goat Bros. – running into difficulties, the door was opened for a surprising, yet very welcome, GP4 class win and second overall for The Prime Primadonnas (Adam Bastien, Brett Donahue, Barry Schmidt). Goat Bros. recovered nicely and took its giant fuel tank with a Yamaha R1 connected to the bottom of it to second in GP4 and third overall. Third in GP4 went to Sitzfleisch after Hebeisen decided he needed a closer look at the Turn 4 asphalt and tucked the front under braking.
GP3 belonged to the aforementioned overall winners, a Tale of Three Toes, which brought it home in front of The Gorillas and the Chimp (Jake Hennen, Martin Holte, Justin Miest, Ken Nielsen) and Sherlin’s Shameless Piercings (Dillon Baumeister, Brandon Pierce, Mike Scherlin), which tried to make the rest of the field a little uncomfortable with its choice of a team name.
In the file of Classes No One Wants to Win, we found the GP2 class. Early favorites, Formula 50 (Derek Gallion, Paul Jensen, Josh Pangier) ran into mechanical problems early on, leaving Get Off My Lawn! (Jon Champ, Adam Harrison, Dave Pederson) to take the helm at the front of the GP2 pack. Unfortunately, but not unsurprisingly, Harrison’s CBR600F2 packed it in trailing a cloud of smoke with less than 30 minutes left in the race and promoting Formula 50 back into the top position in class with Where’s Joe (Erik DeVaan, Jeff Franz, Kyle Franz) a slim 9 seconds back and the Pub Scouts (Roger Hendricks, David Johnson, Jon Roswick, Dwayne Stroman) in a distant third.
The GP1 race met expectations and provided a big surprise at the same time. Krämer? I Hardly Know Her! (Jack Barton, Harry Jensen, Brad Kreller, Kris Skellenger) took Krämer Motorcycles North America’s beautiful Krämer HKR-EVO2S to an expected class win over We May Be Slow but We’re Not Fast Either (Brilly Lachmiller, William Miller) with a definite machine advantage. What was surprising is that the GP1 leading team was in third overall with two laps to go in the race, when Jake Schmotter snatched third overall on his Yamaha R1. Jerk. Just to keep their ego in check, the Krämer ran out of fuel halfway through the last lap due to some clever math by newly retired team managers Corinne Skellenger and Joe Karvonen. They don’t know they’re retired yet, but we all know it’s for the best. Your pink slip is in the mail. Following We May Be Slow but We’re Not Fast Either home in third was Level 37 (Mark Miller, Nick Paidosh, Karyna Veisberg), which combined two 5-hour endurance rookies with Mark Miller – veteran of 142 5-hour endurance races.
GP0 honors went to the team with the best name of the event – Bromancing the Cone (Dave Juntunen, Lawrence Lin, Sean Stettnichs) over I Don’t Give A Damn (Brady Fors, Joel Nelson, David Schaenzer) and Smokey & The Bandits (Nathan Dotson, Amanda Kreller, Scott Masterton, Brian O’Mara) – whose back-up team name was a very appropriate Skell’s Mom’s Rejects! Skell approves.
The conclusion of a season is always met with mixed emotions but the CRA staff would like to thank all of the volunteers, racers, family and fans that made 2018 another memorable year. Congratulations of course go out to Novice champion Justin Miest and now two-time CRA champion Kyle Ohnsorg. See you in 2019!