Max Niesen is BIR’s 2020 King of the Track!

When Max Niesen won his way to Winner’s Circle in Sunday’s Pro Bike/Sled class at Brainerd International Raceway, he never imagined that those three rounds were just warm-up for something bigger.

Later that afternoon, he won four more races against the top racers in BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series, earning him a second trip to the Winner’s Circle and the coveted title of King of the Track.

“It was tons of fun,” Niesen said of his day. “Finishing the bike class, I just tried to continue on what I was doing. I was in a good groove at that point. Everything was feeling good already and I was just hoping to continue on.”

And continue on he did. Riding his 1985 Suzuki, he beat Brooke Neyssen in the first round to represent the Pro Bike/Sled class. Then he beat Jack Anderson from the Street Trophy class and Mike Larson from the Comp Trophy class before lining up against the Pro ET class’ Travis Hjelle in the finals.

Hjelle, who drives a 1964 Nova that runs 9.9 seconds at 133 mph, knows a thing or two about winning. He’s been racing in the Bracket Series a long time and even won the King of the Track crown in 2009. But Sunday was Niesen’s day. He had a perfect reaction time off the starting line and never looked back. His winning time was 9.286 seconds at 130.61 mph.

Niesen, who turned 21 years old in May, may be the youngest King of the Track at BIR, but it certainly wasn’t beginner’s luck. While his dad, Ken, raced in the Pro Bike/Sled class for many years, Max was racing in the Junior Dragster program. This is the fifth year he’s been racing in the Bike class. Plus, he’s a third-generation bike racer; his grandfather, Walt Niesen, raced for several decades and earned an NHRA national championship.

Niesen believes he’s only the third Pro Bike/Sled racer to win King of the Track. He shares that honor with his late father, and last year’s King, Brad Harder.

While Sunday was Niesen’s day at BIR, Saturday was the Carlson family’s big day.

Shawn Carlson, who was the 2017 King of the Track and knows his way around the Winner’s Circle, won the Sportsman class Saturday by beating Joe Moriarity in the finals with a winning time of 11.823 seconds and 109.20 mph.

Carlson was joined in the Winner’s Circle by his twin boys, Bodie and Colt. Bodie beat Colt in the finals of the Junior Dragster Novice class with a winning time of 13.876 seconds and 46.01 mph while Colt ran 13.919 seconds and 45.26 mph.

The drag strip was full of Stock/Super Stock cars as well. In fact, of the 275 cars racing last weekend, 58 of them were Stock/Super Stock because it was the Midwest Racing Class’ 7th Annual Paul Bunyan Classic, a special race with a huge prize purse, courtesy of Barrett PetFood Innovations and Line Performance.

On Saturday, Mike Mans drove his 2000 Firebird to a finals win over Richard Myers with a winning time of 8.716 seconds and 154.76 mph. On Sunday, Jamey Picht and his 1972 Buick nudged out Jason Deforrest in the finals with a winning time of 10.834 seconds at 119.52 seconds. Both winners took home checks for $2,500 while the runners-up won $1,500.

Mike Mans, Stock/Super Stock
Jamey Picht, Stock/Super Stock

Below are the finals for each class each day.  

SATURDAY, JULY 19

Super Pro
Finals: Steve Roehrs of Frederic, Wis. def. Chris Bishop of Grand Rapids

Pro ET
Finals: Dave Engler of Zimmerman def. Mike Sandstrim of Aitkin

Sportsman
Finals: Shawn Carlson of Elbow Lake def. Joe Moriarty of Ham Lake

Stock/Super Stock
Finals: Mike Mans of Rogers def. Richard Myers of Faribault

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Jason Ponsness of Foley def. Brad Harder of Waconia

Comp Trophy
Finals: Paul Songas of Stacy def. Mike Larson of Baxter

Street Trophy
Finals: Jack Anderson of Holdingford def. Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Riley Luberda of Foley def. Cameron Giese of Kandyohi

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Blake Neyssen of Foley def. Carter Luberda of Foley

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Bodie Carlson of Elbow Lake def. Colt Carlson of Elbow Lake

SUNDAY, JULY 19

King of the Track
Finals: Max Niesen of Brooklyn Park def. Travis Hjelle of Karlstad

Super Pro
Finals: Keith Johnson of Nowthen def. Chris Bishop of Grand Rapids

Pro ET
Finals: Aaron Milton of Delano def. Jason Charlton of Grand Rapids

Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout
Finals: Keith Johnson of Nowthen def. Aaron Milton of Delano

Sportsman
Finals: Luke Schneider of St. Joseph def. Troy Luberda of Foley

Stock/Super Stock
Finals: Jamey Picht of Oakdale def. Jason Deforrest of Oak Grove

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Max Niesen of Brooklyn Park def. Mark Gode of Bloomington

Comp Trophy
Finals: Tim Meirick of Kasson def. Paul Songas of Stacy

Street Trophy
Finals: Tyler Kyllonen of St. Francis def. Trevor Jelinski of Little Falls

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Dylan Dancer of Foley def. Hannah Drake of Zimmerman

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Blake Neyssen of Foley def. Gabe Killian of Superior, Wis.

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Reisa Mellgren of Young America