The stage was set for some good ol’ fashioned showdowns on the dragstrip Sunday during the 29th Annual GSTA Muscle Car Shootout at Brainerd International Raceway.
The Outlaw Pro Mod and Outlaw classes, specifically, had some real heavyweight matchups shaping up, with Muscle Car Series championships on the line.
In Outlaw Pro Mod, Ray Fuchs and Rick Schmidt each won the class once this season and were expected to settle the score once and for all this weekend, with a winner-takes-all scenario in place. But fans were denied the chance to see that unfold, as Fuchs’ 1953 Studebaker broke on his semifinal run against Lee Loew and his ’36 Ford pickup. Schmidt, who qualified No. 1 with a pass of 6.134 seconds, advanced to the finals and lined up against Loew.
Loew, who had never won a Muscle Car Series race, can’t say that anymore. He was quicker off the starting line and held off Schmidt at the finish line with a rare hole shot win. Loew’s time was 6.599 seconds at 215.89 mph. Schmidt ran 6.585 seconds at 214.31 mph. The difference was on the starting line, where Loew’s reaction time was .066 seconds to Schmidt’s .124 seconds.
Outlaw Pro Mod is always a fan favorite of the three-race Muscle Car Series, which concluded this weekend with 457 cars battling for hardware and series championships. The series is part of the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout, which also included the Sports Car Club of America’s Jack Pine Sprints on the road course, live music, a fireworks display and a classic car show.
Back on the drag strip, the Outlaw class was shaping up to feature some big hitters this weekend as well. Jake Delmonico and Bubba Romanyshyn were exchanging blows on the blacktop this year, with each having won a series race and were at the top of the points standings. A showdown wasn’t in the cards for Romanyshyn, though, as he crashed his car prior to this weekend and wasn’t able to make a run at the championship.
That left the door open for Delmonico, who raced his ’68 Camaro to a No. 1 qualifying position. He then won his way to the finals where he faced 2015 Outlaw class champion Warren Peterson. Peterson was much quicker off the starting line, but he couldn’t hold off Delmonico’s powerful Camaro, which clocked a 7.284-second winning time at 202.21 mph. Peterson ran 7.662 seconds at 179.95 mph.
Two familiar faces won their way to the finals of King Street. Brian Mahnke, who dominated the King Street class during the first five years of the Muscle Car Series, had his ’72 Camaro dialed in last weekend. He advanced to the finals where he faced off with Mike Sterling, another past series champion.
Sterling and his ’66 Chevelle were quicker off the starting line but Mahnke chased him down at the finish line, posting a winning time of 7.832 seconds and 178.12 mph. Sterling was 8.238 seconds and 162.24 mph.
In Real Street Unlimited, Duane Godbout and Jason Nelson faced each other in the finals of the first two races, with each winning once. They both made it to the finals again last weekend to break the tie and determine the series champion. Godbout and his ’69 Chevelle was the top qualifier and showed why. Nelson beat him off the starting line but Godbout had too much horsepower for Nelson’s ’87 Trans Am, catching him at the finish line with a winning time of 8.083 seconds and 171.62 mph. Nelson ran 8.696 seconds at 152.52 mph.
Bob Wallin won his way to the finals of both Real Street Natural races this season, winning one and losing the other. Driving a ’72 Nova, he made it three-for-three last weekend, beating Taylor Gullickson in the finals with a time of 9.623 seconds at 137.32 mph.
In True Street, a pair of Mustangs were in the finals: Jason King’s 1987 and Bill Rolow’s 1989. On Sunday, King’s ’87 had a hair more juice as he was able to sneak across the finish line ahead of Rolow despite getting beat on the starting line. King ran 8.623 seconds and 158.41 mph, while Rolow ran 8.790 seconds and 158.09 mph.
Brian Carpenter won the 660 Street Outlaw class for the second time, giving him three trips to the finals and two wins. He beat Chris Gullickson in a tight one with a time of 4.632 seconds and 167.76 mph on the eighth-mile track. Gullickson ran 4.690 seconds and 163.08 mph.
For the second race in a row, Gary Olson won the Index Class Championship. He won the 12.00 Index class to advance to the race-off between the 10 Index Class winners, which included Ryan Nohner, who won the 11.00 Index and battled to the finals but couldn’t take down Olson.
Below are the finals results from each class.
Outlaw Pro Mod
Finals: Lee Loew of Darwin def. Rich Schmidt of Dickinson, N.D.
Finals: Jake Delmonico of St. Paul Park def. Warren Peterson of Duluth
Finals: Brian Mahnke of Proctor def. Mike Sterling of Oak Grove
Real Street Unlimited
Finals: Duane Godbout of Cloquet def. Jason Nelson of Champlin
Real Street Natural
Finals: Bob Wallin of Superior, Wis. def. Taylor Gullickson of North Branch
Finals: Jason King of Saginaw def. Bill Rolow of Crosslake
660 Outlaw Street
Finals: Brian Carpenter of Forest Lake def. Chris Gullickson of North Branch
Strip Eliminator 1
Finals: Nick Loesch of Hastings def. Joe Marudas of Milaca
Strip Eliminator 2
Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. Scott Popp of Rice
Strip Eliminator 3
Finals: Shawn Veith of Janesville def. Misty Hockett of Sebeka
Finals: Troy Anderson of Little Canada def. Brandon Swanson of Ham Lake
Finals: Jeremy Reitmeier of Crookston def. Kelly Rutz of Randall
Index Class Champion
Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. Leon Vinkemeier of Belle Plaine
Finals: Gerald Cook of Mora def. Pat Huebner of Bloomington
Finals: RJ Laase of Duluth def. Kevin Sand of Cambridge
Finals: Bob Peterson of Janesville def. Mark Angier of Waconia
Finals: Leon Vinkemeier of Belle Plaine def. Darwyn Hansen of Brooklyn Park
Finals: Ryan Nohner of Watkins def. Brian Schottenbauer of Clear Lake
Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. Stefan Halverson of Cook
Finals: Austin Morley of Merrifield def. Bobbi Halverson of Cook
Finals: Brian Schraut of Sauk Rapids def. Brandon Hemenway of Park Rapids
Finals: Shannon Halverson of Cook def. Ryan Hansen of Esko
Finals: Steve Twaddle of Virginia def. Chad Nikstad of Superior, Wis.