The 2019 racing season didn’t get started with quite the gusto that Brainerd International Raceway had hoped for, with rain and wrecks shortening Saturday’s schedule, but racers were met with great racing conditions Sunday, and they took advantage of it.
The Bracket Drag Racing Series had BIR to itself last weekend for the first spectator event of the new season. More than 230 cars, trucks, dragsters, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters descended on the track in the first of seven series weekends. Most spent the weekend tweaking their vehicles and knocking the rust off their driving skills.
A crash on Saturday caused a sizable delay, and then rain moved in during the afternoon to shut down racing for the day with only three of the 10 classes completing the elimination rounds and crowning winners.
Sunday was a different story.
Tevin Zavadil had his 1990 Chevy Cavalier dialed in during the Super Pro class elimination rounds. With 67 cars in the field, competition was tough but Zavadil relied on consistent runs and improvements in his reaction times every time he inched toward the starting line.
He saved his best reaction time for the finals, when he lined up against Jim Lambrecht. Zavadil was 5/1,000ths of a second away from a perfect reaction time, beating Lambrecht with a winning time of 8.978 seconds at 148.62 mph in the quarter mile.
The Pro ET class also featured 67 cars, one of which was Mike Casteel, who traveled all the way from Thief River Falls to compete with his 1965 Chevelle wagon. It was well worth the trip, as Casteel ran the table Sunday, beating Mike Walcheski in the finals. Walcheski fouled at the starting line to hand Casteel the win.
Casteel benefitted from two other starting-line fouls in earlier rounds but his wagon was making consistent 9-second runs while his reaction times improved with each pass. That was the magic recipe that landed Casteel at the top of the point standings for an early lead.
Brett Speer was another racer who showed off mid season-like reaction times. Driving an ’87 Camaro, he outlasted 10 other racers in the Stock/Super Stock class, finishing his day with a .008-second reaction time in the finals against perennial powerhouse Jason DeForrest and his 2005 Chevy Cavalier. Speer’s winning time was 9.927 seconds and 122.79 mph. DeForrest was slow getting off the line (.161 seconds) and couldn’t recover.
The second race weekend in the seven-weekend Bracket Drag Racing Series will be May 17-19. With the drag strip busy, the Central Roadracing Association will be on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course for thrilling Superbike racing. On Saturday, BIR will open its gates to the public for a Celebration of Life event for one of its owners, Jed Copham, who passed away last fall. Gates open at 3 p.m., with free admission. There will be a memorial lap around the road course, an open mic session, live music and a spectacular fireworks display.
Below are results from the finals last weekend.
SATURDAY, MAY 4
Ryan Athman of St. Cloud def. Mike Larson of Brainerd
Tyler Kyllonen of St. Francis def. Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls
Junior Dragster Novice
Lily Covington of Merrifield def. Addyson Scheleck of St. Cloud
SUNDAY, MAY 5
Tevin Zavadil of Clearwater def. Jim Lambrecht of Lino Lakes
Mike Casteel of Thief River Falls def. Mike Wacheski of Foley
Jerry Heib of Maple Grove def. Joe Demarais of Forest Lake
Brett Speer of Pierz def. Jason DeForrest of Oak Grove
Mike Bolandor of Mora def. Wyatt Niesen of Brooklyn Park
Paige Findell of Zimmerman def. Paul Wasgatt of Elk River
Keith Larson of Brainerd def. Kyle Luberda of Foley
Junior Dragster Advanced
Riley Luberda of Foley def. Jocelynn Geib of Montrose
Junior Dragster Intermediate
Megan Cielinski of Gilman def. Daniel Dancer of Foley
Junior Dragster Novice
Addyson Scheleck of St. Cloud def. Lily Covington of Merrifield