Nathan Olson had a rare trifecta win and Rick Schmidt broke the 5-second mark to cap off a crazy weekend of drag racing for 450 cars entered in the 30th Annual GSTA Muscle Car Shootout at Brainerd International Raceway.
Olson, who only has two Muscle Car Series wins in the five years he’s been racing, was unbeatable in 15 races, finishing the weekend with an armload of hardware for winning the Strip Eliminator 2 (SE2) class, the 12.50 Index class and the Index Class Championship. Oddly enough, the last time a racer accomplished that same feat was during last year’s Muscle Car Shootout when Olson’s dad, Gary Olson, won the SE2 class, the 12.00 Index class and the Index Class Championship.
Nathan Olson didn’t really have an answer for his wild success. His only Muscle Car Series wins were during this year’s Street Car Showdown on Memorial Day weekend when he won the 12.50 Index class and then the Index Class Championship, which is a run-off between the winners of the 10 Index classes.
“It went better than I expected,” Olson said of his weekend. “Everyone wants to win but it’s not until it’s over when you think, ‘Hey, I really won.'”
The SE2 class had 92 cars competing last weekend, making it the event’s largest class. Olson and his ’79 Camaro had to beat six other drivers to make it to the finals, where he raced Dallas Gravelle. Olson was quicker off the starting line and won with a time of 12.515 seconds and 93.91 mph. He then lasted four rounds in the 12.50 Index class and another four rounds in the Index Class Championship run-off.
Gary Olson won the SE2 class during the past three Muscle Car Shootouts, making it four in a row for the Olson family.
The three days of drag racing, which is for “door cars” only, was the finale for the three-race Muscle Car Series, so series championships were on the line in 13 classes. The event also included the Central Roadracing Association on the road course for three days of Superbike racing. A classic car show and live music rounded out the event, which is a perennial fan favorite.
Back on the drag strip, Schmidt finally achieved what he’s been gunning for during the last couple of seasons: a 5-second pass. Running the Outlaw Pro Mod class, the defending champ has been flirting with breaking the mark in his 2011 Mustang but it finally became reality in the semifinal round of eliminations when he posted a 5.982-second run at 245.05 mph to beat Ver Laurin Jr.. He then went on to beat Chris Willemssen in the finals with a time of 6.063 seconds at 239.74 mph.
In the Outlaw class, Bubba Romanyshyn entered the elimination rounds as the No. 1 qualifier, just as he had done in the first two races, and the result was the same: a win for Bubba. Dean Erickson won his way to the finals to get a crack at Romanyshyn. With a pair of 1967 Camaros lined up on the starting line, Erickson was much quicker at the start but Romanyshyn had more horsepower and blew by him at the finish line with a winning time of 6.708 seconds and 206.13 mph. Erickson ran 7.547 seconds and 180.65 mph.
“It took a while to get past him,” Romanyshyn said of catching Erickson. “I’m not that good (off the starting line) so I have to run them down. Luckily, we have a pretty fast car.”
In King Street, defending champ Brian Mahnke entered the weekend looking for a series sweep. With 16 cars in the class, he picked off the competition until he and his 1972 Camaro made their way to the finals against Dave Feders and his 1968 Chevelle. Mahnke got the jump on Feders at the starting line but his car broke, giving Feders the easy win.
Like Mahnke, Duane Godbout came to BIR this weekend thinking sweep in the Real Street Unlimited class. He had his 1969 Chevelle flying down the track, grabbing the No. 1 qualifier position and winning his way to the finals, where he lined up across from Jason Rolow and his 1970 Nova. Rolow was twice as quick off the starting line and outran Godbout to the finish line, spoiling Godbout’s sweep. Rolow’s winning time was 8.022 seconds at 167.53 mph. Godbout ran 8.052 seconds and 173.38 mph.
In Real Street Natural, Bob Wallin was another driver who was gunning for a series sweep and a repeat championship. He had his 1972 Nova running well and won his way to the finals against Godbout’s brother, Darrell. The two had similar reaction times on the starting line but Godbout couldn’t keep up with Wallin, who won with a time of 9.453 seconds and 142.32 mph. Godbout ran 10.079 seconds and 139.06 mph.
Jason King won the True Street class, beating Steve Luiten in the finals with a winning time of 8.227 seconds and 165.46 mph. Luiten ran 9.815 seconds and 134.51 mph.
In 660 Outlaw Street, two-time defending champ Brian Carpenter was looking to finish the season strong to three-peat in the only series class that runs an eighth-mile track. But Dan Gefre played the role of spoiler by beating Carpenter in the first round, opening the door for Chris Gullikson and Zach Novak to advance to the finals. Novak and his ’96 Mustang blew Gullickson off the starting line, which was the difference at the finish line. Novak’s winning time was 4.825 seconds and 152.88 mph to Gullikson’s 4.704 seconds at 163.14 mph.
The other two races in the series were the Street Car Showdown on Memorial Day weekend and the PleasureLand RV Show & Go on the Fourth of July weekend.
Below is the final round for each class:
Outlaw Pro Mod
Finals: Rick Schmidt of Dickinson, N.D. def. Chris Willemssen of Stewart
Finals: Bubba Romanyshyn of Belfield, N.D. def. Dean Erickson of East Bethel
Finals: Dave Feders of Isanti def. Brian Mahnke of Proctor
Real Street Unlimited
Finals: Jason Rolow of Anoka def. Duane Godbout of Cloquet
Real Street Natural
Finals: Bob Wallin of Superior, Wis., def. Darrell Godbout of Carlton
Finals: Jason King of Saginaw def. Steve Luiten of Duluth
660 Outlaw Street
Finals: Zach Novak of Rice def. Chris Gullikson of North Branch
Strip Eliminator 1
Finals: Bill Schilling of Cross Lake def. Tim Davey of Gilbert
Strip Eliminator 2
Finals: Nathan Olson of Sartell def. Dallas Gravelle of Grand Rapids
Strip Eliminator 3
Finals: Dan Hyttsten of Becker def. Eric Miller of Marble
Finals: Corey Winkelman of Clear Lake def. Pete Trombley of Cokato
Finals: Mike Hed of Menagha def. Bon Stephany of Zimmerman
Index Class Champion
Nathan Olson of Sartell def. Eric Baker of Browerville
Finals: Rob Weyker of Coon Rapids def. Pat Huebner of Bloomington
Finals: Eric Baker of Browerville def. Bruce Morley of Brainerd
Finals: Chad Dalland of Pillager def. Jeff Saucier of New Hope
Finals: Jason Hartkopf of Eden Valley def. Chase Keske of Grand Rapids
Finals: Zach Stengel of Blaine def. Jeff Tharaldson of East Bethel
Finals: Rusty Mack of New Ulm def. Joe Riendeau of Grand Rapids
Finals: Nathan Olson of Sartell def. Jason Neshiem of Mazeppa
Finals: Jesse Backstrom of Grand Marais def. Randy Murray of Hibbing
Finals: Travis Iverson of Campbell def. Justin Madsen of Foxboro, Wis.
Finals: Steve Twaddle of Virginia def. Steve Enberg of Winsted