If you love the sights and sounds of American Muscle flying around a road course in wheel-to-wheel racing, then you’ll love the pair of 100-mile feature races Brainerd International Raceway is hosting on July 2. It’s the return of the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli.
You’ll see Mustangs, Corvettes, Camaros and Challengers — a massive dose of pure Americana, with just a touch of nostalgia – running side by side on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course. It’s a nod to the early days of the Trans Am Series at BIR, which dates back to 1969.
The two Trans Am Series races are part of BIR’s 31st Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go, set for June 30-July 2. In addition to the Trans Am Series, the event includes the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) on the road course, the second leg of the three-race Muscle Car Series on the drag strip, fireworks, a Classic Car Show and live music.
This is the third year that the Trans Am Series will be the Show & Go’s finale. The first 100-mile, 40-lap race is the Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge, which starts at 11 a.m. and features the series’ TA2 class, which put on an incredible show the last two years. Duluth’s Tommy Archer finished second both years in great non-stop action, while Gar Robinson took home the checked flag last year after being chased by a seven-car pack during the final 20 laps.
At 2:30 p.m., the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic begins, with another 100-mile, 40-lap showdown. The TA, TA3 and TA4 classes will be on the track at the same time, but all eyes will be on the much faster TA cars. Last year, Paul Fix sat in second place behind Cliff Ebben for 37 laps, finally passing him on the final lap when Ebben’s car started smoking.
Fans can expect similar action this year, which includes practice sessions at 9 and 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, and then 20-minute qualifying sessions that start at 2:30 p.m. More than 50 cars total are expected to fill the field this year.
“This is a great chance for fans to see some world-class road racing,” said BIR Owner Jed Copham, who will be racing in the TA class again this year. “These are professional drivers that have amazing skills and cars that really fly around the track. We have bleachers set up on the best places to watch all the action, and fans can move around the track to watch from different vantage points, so it’s a lot of fun for everyone.”
For those who can’t watch the races in person, or want to watch them on TV after the fact, both races will be televised on CBS Sports Network. The Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic will be televised at 11 a.m. on July 22. The Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge will be on at 11 a.m. on Aug. 5.
When the Trans Am Series isn’t on the track, the SCCA will be, with regional drivers competing in several different classes. The SCCA will have practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday and then 12-lap races on Sunday.
Over on the drag strip, the Muscle Car Series will be providing three days of non-stop drag racing with cars that showcase huge horsepower and incredible speeds. The fastest cars in the top classes are now well over 200 mph and closing in on the 5-second mark. Time trials and qualifying are Friday and Saturday, while elimination rounds are on Sunday.
One of the drag racers to watch is Kevin Sand, who hasn’t lost a race since July 3. He’s won 26 elimination-round match-ups and has ended up in the Winner’s Circle six times in the last two events.
For fans, the Show & Go includes plenty of extras off the track as well. Saturday’s schedule includes a Classic Car Show, a fireworks display and live music by Gel.
Daily admission is $25, and kids 12 and under are free. Parking is free, as is rustic camping with a multi-day ticket.
The Central Roadracing Association (CRA) welcomed the Championship Cup Series’ (CCS) Midwest region to Brainerd International Raceway’s Competition Road Course last weekend for what has quickly become the most anticipated weekend on CRA’s schedule. With an international field of riders from as far away as California, Canada and Colorado, the third annual CRA/CCS Super Summer Showdown exceeded expectations for both grid sizes and great racing.
The rider of the weekend was undoubtedly Brian Hebeisen on his Fisk Brothers Racing/Dryject/Team Hoff Yamaha R6. Hebeisen has been a fixture in the top 5 Middleweight and Heavyweight Expert races for many years but the support of Fisk Brothers Racing, Dryject and Team Hoff has clearly paid off for the seasoned rider as he took home four wins across the Middleweight and Heavyweight Expert races last weekend. Hebeisen’s win tally would have been five if it wasn’t for a mystery problem with his throttle application mechanism, allowing for CCS’ Dave Collins to steal a win by .020 seconds.
The CRA and CCS Superbike racing was part of BIR’s Wet & Wild Weekend, which lived up to its name again with high car, bike and sled counts – all racing at the same time. The CRA and CCS bikes were on the Competition Road Course while the Bracket Drag Racing Series was on the drag strip and the International Watercross Association featured snowmobiles racing on open water on Lake BIR.
The Unlimited Expert class saw Bell Helmets/Farrell Performance rider Scott Stall clean house during each of Saturday’s Unlimited races. However, Sunday saw Jason Farrell suit up and put a stop to Stall’s dominance by starting the day with a spectacular last lap pass on the way to victory in Unlimited Supersport and ending the day with an assault on his existing track record of 1:35.010 during the Unlimited Grand Prix race.
While Farrell took home the win in Unlimited Grand Prix, he fell short of breaking his track record. Undoubtedly disappointed at falling less than four tenths of a second short of his track record, rumor has it that Farrell was seen consoling himself by wearing all of the Pirelli track record bounty hats he has earned in recent years at the same time.
In Unlimited Novice, visiting CCS rider Josiah Burke went home with three wins as he took the victory in more than half of his races while Stephen Peterson took top honors in two races and Marcus Taite stood on the top step in one.
While Hebeisen was dominating the Middleweight and Heavyweight Expert races, Dillon Baumeister was replicating the feat in even more impressive fashion in the Novice ranks. A Stall protégé, Baumeister took advantage of Stall’s teachings and crossed the line first in 10 of his 12 races. Stall, however, was unable to open the winner’s champagne bottle due to his tiny farmer hands so the duo chose to celebrate by dousing each other with cans of Schlitz beer.
The Lightweight field was the largest in years and while Jon Champ looked poised to continue his absolute dominance in the Expert class, his teammate in the 2016 5-hour endurance race, Chris Mattson, put an end to Champ’s winning ways in the mixed conditions found during Sunday’s Lightweight Supersport race. Sensing the likelihood that he will not be invited back onto Champ’s 5-hour team, Mattson put on another good showing in Lightweight Superbike in the hopes of attracting interest from other potential teams.
Unhappy at being displaced at the front of the field, Champ struck back in the Lightweight GP race and will head to the upcoming CCS/CRA round at Road America with plenty of momentum. The Lightweight Novice races didn’t have one standout rider as Daniel Mataczynski, Jesse VanderWeide, Kyle Franz and Brian Rogers each grabbed at least one victory throughout the weekend.
The most exciting races of the weekend were found in the combined Ultralight/Featherweight races, which featured so much action that it was hard to follow everything. At the front of the Ultralight field, the Krämer vs. Krämer battles raged on between Jack Barton and Mark Praska. Barton and Praska traded wins throughout the weekend, and Praska’s efforts to wrestle the lead away from Barton in races he didn’t win was as clear as the sparks flying from his bike as he railed through Turn 11.
The final step of the podium was always a heated battle between Barry Schmidt and Trevor Treviranus, and just when the spectators thought the excitement of the race was over they were treated to three rider battles to the line in Featherweight by Brad Kreller, Chase Sellers and Brad Zajic. With such intense racing on track, the real winners were the spectators who were lucky enough to see such great examples of hard but fair racing.
The CRA will pack up and head east to join the CCS at Road America July 1-2 and will be back on BIR’s Competition Road Course July 21-23.
Gary Loeffelholz had a weekend of drag racing that he’ll remember for a long time. Unfortunately for him, the 90 drivers he beat will probably remember it as well.
Loeffelholz and his 2004 Mustang made 18 runs down the drag strip during elimination rounds Saturday and Sunday, winning 17 of them and losing only once. Along the way, he won the Super Pro class both days as well as the Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout, which pits the winners of the Super Pro and Pro ET classes against each other. The only race he lost was in the Quick 16 class. He won two rounds before losing to Michael Freischel in the semifinals.
Defending Super Pro champ Brian Johnson will also remember Loeffelholz’s winning ways last weekend because he lost to Loeffelholz in both finals. Loeffelholz’s winning time in Saturday’s finals was 7.444 seconds and 184.67 mph. His winning time Sunday was 7.412 seconds and 178.87 mph, which included a near-perfect reaction time of .005 seconds on the starting line. The Super Pro class had 84 cars last weekend.
Loeffelholz went on to beat Joe Schmall in Saturday’s Shootout and Grant Pesola in Sunday’s Shootout. After the dust settled Sunday, he vaulted from 24th place in the points standings to second, just behind Johnson.
Jimmy Paulson also had a memorable weekend, running the table both days in the Pro Bike/Sled class. Riding a 2012 Clampitt, Paulson beat Brad Harder in Saturday’s final with a 9.057-second pass at 136.87 mph. On Sunday, he won his way to the finals again and a chance to take on Kyle Lundberg. He was quicker off the starting line and held on to win with a time of 9.057 seconds and 143.34 mph. With that effort, Paulson sits atop the points standings.
Last weekend’s drag racing program was just one part of an action-packed schedule, with Superbike racing on the Competition Road Course and watercross on Lake BIR, where snowmobiles drag raced and raced laps on open water. Fans got all three races for a single ticket.
The next Bracket Drag Racing Series weekend is July 7-9. The watercross snowmobiles will be back at BIR Sept. 22-24 for Wet & Wild Weekend 2.0. And the Central Roadracing Association’s Superbike racing will be at BIR for its third of five weekend races July 21-23.
Below are the two-day results from the Bracket Drag Racing Series last weekend.
SATURDAY, JUNE 10
Finals: Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer def. Brian Johnson of Nowthen
Finals: Joe Schmall of Lino Lakes def. Steve Roehrs of Frederic, Wis.
Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout
Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer def. Joe Schmall of Lino Lakes
Finals: Joe Moriarty Sr. of Ham Lake def. David Lacasse of Forest Lake
Finals: Glen Demenge of McGregor def. Lance Line of Cromwell
Finals: Jimmy Paulson of Stacy def. Brad Harder of Waconia
Finals: Taylor Arneson of Pillager def. Eric Blumke of Pillager
Finals: Todd Anderson of Brainerd def. Joe Moriarty of Ham Lake
Finals: Dan Narusiewcz of St. Paul Park def. Michael Freischel of Cottage Grove
Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Sydney Thompson of Nowthen def. Meagen Neil of West Fargo, N.D.
Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Riley Luberda of Foley def. Dylan Dancer of Foley
Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Danial Dancer of Foley def. Carlee Reber of St. Joseph
SUNDAY, JUNE 11
Finals: Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer def. Brian Johnson of Nowthen
Finals: Grant Pesola of Nashwauk def. Brandon Schmall of Palo, Iowa
Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout
Finals: Gary Loeffelholz of Shafter def. Grant Pesola of Nashwauk
Finals: Mark Pease of Rogers def. Chris Henry of Sauk Rapids
Finals: Mike Patnaude of Sawyer def. Lawrence Line of Wright
Finals: Jimmy Paulson of Stacy def. Kyle Lundberg of Isanti
Finals: Devin Walcheski def. Mike Larson of Brainerd
Finals: Joe Moriarty of Ham Lake def. Luke Schneider of St. Joseph
Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Sydney Thompson of Nowthen def. Samantha Cielinski of Gilman
Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Megan Cielinski of Gilman def. Dylan Dancer of Foley
Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Carter Luberda of Foley def. Brody Thompson of Nowthen
At Brainerd International Raceway, snowmobile season is year-round.
You won’t find any snow at BIR this weekend but the sleds will be providing high-flying racing action all the same – on open water. It’s BIR’s annual Wet & Wild Weekend, which features drag racing, Superbike racing and watercross, where snowmobiles race on Lake BIR in drag racing and oval racing. It’s all scheduled for June 9-11.
Watercross has quickly become a crowd favorite at BIR partly because of its novelty but also because it’s just a blast to watch. Snowmobiles defy gravity as they skip across the water, with riders “steering” their sleds by leaning into the turns while keeping their speeds up. And yes, they do occasionally sink, which prompts the rescue pontoon to hover over the sled and lift it out of the water with a hoist. The sled is then taken back to shore, where it’s usually ready for the next race.
“Watercross is a lot of fun for fans to watch,” BIR owner Jed Copham said. “They can sit along the edge of the lake on the grass or on lawn chairs and watch these guys put on a great show. The skill level of these riders is amazing.”
There are three drag racing classes, where the snowmobiles start on one shore and race across the lake to the other shore. And there are five classes for oval racing, where racers make four or five laps around floating markers and return to the same shore they left from.
Watercross is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, but BIR’s drag strip and road course will be busy Friday as well. The Bracket Drag Racing Series will feature 250-plus drag racers in the third of six race weekends. The previous race weekend was rained out, so drivers will be itching to get back on the throttle.
The drag racers compete in 11 different classes, with two chances to win and earn series points each weekend. Friday is a Test & Tune day. On Saturday and Sunday, each day starts with time trials and qualifying, followed by elimination rounds. So winners are determined in all classes at the end of both days.
On BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course, the Central Roadracing Association (CRA) will be showcasing it’s crazy brand of Superbike racing over all three days. Friday is reserved for practice sessions. Saturday and Sunday both start with practice sessions in the morning followed by six-lap sprint races in the afternoon.
The fans will be the big winners this weekend. For a single ticket, they can watch all three types of racing and can go from one to the other at will. Daily admission is $25, and kids 12 and under are free. Tickets are available at the front gate. Parking is free, as is rustic camping (with a multi-day ticket).
Watercross and Superbike racing will return for Wet & Wild 2.0 on Sept. 22-24, in case fans want another chance to watch.
It doesn’t matter what the weather is like at BIR, our racers and fans enjoy the event regardless. BIR Photography Barry Bergeron took these photos last weekend at the Street Car Showdown.
Kevin Sand is officially the hottest drag racer in Brainerd International Raceway’s Muscle Car Series.
During last weekend’s Street Car Showdown – the first race in the three-race Muscle Car Series – Sand drove his 1983 Olds Cierra to wins in the Strip Eliminator 1 and 10.00 Index classes and then won the Index Class Champion by beating the nine other Index class winners. He won 12 straight races during Sunday’s elimination rounds, collecting an armload of trophies and plaques in the Winner’s Circle, and heading into the next series race as “the guy to beat.”
“I was super stoked,” Sand said of his final win. “My dad was smiling and I had a smile from ear to ear.”
Sand and the other drivers almost didn’t get a chance to finish the race. Rain continually interrupted racing Sunday, but the BIR track crew was able to scramble late afternoon to dry the track for the remaining pairings. Sand was in the last pair of cars to race – at 9:06 p.m. It was for the Strip Eliminator 1 title and the finish to a great day of racing for the Cambridge driver.
What makes Sand’s finish even more impressive is that he did the same thing last year during the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout on Labor Day weekend, which is the series’ finale. He won 14 straight races to earn the same three titles. In fact, the last time he lost a series race was July 3 during the 2016 PleasureLand RV Show & Go, when he lost in the finals of all three classes.
The Street Car Showdown also featured the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) on BIR’s Competition Road Course for the Harvey West Memorial Day Classic.
Back on the drag strip, Rick Schmidt ended Ray Fuchs’ three-race win streak in the Outlaw Pro Mod class. Schmidt’s 2011 Mustang was by far the fastest car on the track last weekend, in any class. He qualified first with a time of 6.261 seconds at 234.90 mph, which could be a series record. He beat Fuchs in the finals when Fuchs fouled at the starting line.
Bubba Romanyshyn has his 1967 Camaro flying down the drag strip, which should make the drivers in the Outlaw class nervous this year. He qualified first with a time of 6.780 seconds at 220.69 mph and then beat Todd Mueller in the finals when Mueller fouled at the starting line.
Brian Mahnke has his own streak going when he won the King Street class. He also won the class during the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout last year, making it two in a row. He beat Jake Waste in the finals with a run of 8.056 seconds and 180.52 mph. Waste ran 8.182 seconds and 166.50 mph.
In Real Street Natural, Robert Wilczek kept his winning streak alive with a win over Bob Wallin in the finals. Wilczek hasn’t lost since the 2015 GSTA Muscle Car Shootout, having swept the class last year. He ran 9.283 seconds and 142.87 mph in his 1969 Mustang to beat Wallin, who posted a run of 9.569 seconds and 141.15 mph.
Below are the finals for each class. Click here to view the standings for each class.
The next Muscle Car Series race is June 30-July 2 during the 31st Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go,
which also includes two 100-mile races on the road course by the Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli. The SCCA is on the road course as well, and the event includes fireworks, live music, a classic car show and more.
Outlaw Pro Mod
Finals: Rick Schmidt of Dickinson, N.D. def. Ray Fuchs of Bowman, N.D.
Finals: Bubba Romanyshyn of Belfield, N.D. def. Todd Mueller of Ham Lake
Finals: Brian Mahnke of Proctor def. Jake Waste of Loretto
Real Street Unlimited
Finals: Jason Nelson of Champlin def. Duane Godbout of Cloquet
Real Street Natural
Finals: Robert Wilczek of Little Falls def. Bob Wallin of Superior, Wis.
Finals: Zach Novak of Sauk Rapids def. Todd Malik of Coon Rapids
660 Outlaw Street
Finals: Chris Gullickson of North Branch def. Brian Carpenter of Forest Lake
Strip Eliminator 1
Finals: Kevin Sand of Cambridge def. Brian Peterson of Park Rapids
Strip Eliminator 2
Finals: Tony Scheunemann of Champlin def. Dean Markuson of Pequot Lakes
Strip Eliminator 3
Finals: Kurt Lotis of Merrifield def. Andrew Novak of Foley
Finals Taylor Tesar of Medina def. Dan Huttsten of Becker
Manual TransmissionFinals: Kelly Rutz of Randall def. Mike Newman of Little Falls
Index Class Champion
Finals: Kevin Sand of Cambridge def. Karl Eckardt of Pequot Lakes
Finals: Austin Siemers of Milaca def. Greg Bednar of Mapleton
Finals: Kevin Sand of Cambridge def. Joe Marudas of Milaca
Finals: Mike Hammerstrom of Bemidji def. Mark Angier of Waconia
11.00 IndexFinals: David Brostrom of Mora def. Dan Boyce of Minnetonka
Finals: Karl Eckardt of Pequot Lakes def. Zach Stengel of Blaine
Finals: Jeff Purdham of St. Michael def. Jerry Eischeus of Park Rapids
Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. Bobbi Halverson of Cook
Finals: Jesse Backstrom of Grand Marais def. Cole Scofield of Little Falls
Finals: Ryan Hansen of Esko def. Shannon Halverson of Cook
Finals: Steve Enberg of Winstead def. John Peterson of St. Michael
PleasureLand RV Center is filling Brainerd International Raceway with more than 200 RVs and campers for its annual Brainerd RV Show and Sale, May 31-June 3.
Admission is free for the show, where you can see motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth wheels and toy haulers. Low-rate financing is available, too.
Wednesday – Friday 10 am-7 pm
Saturday 10 am-6 pm
KQDS-FM will broadcast its wildly popular morning show from BIR’s Tower Suites Friday morning, May 26. KQDS, the top radio station in the Duluth market and throughout most of northeast Minnesota, will broadcast live from 6-10 a.m.
The show stars Jason Manning and Scott Savage, who will be talking about this weekend’s 9th Annual Street Car Showdown all morning. The conversation will include interviews with some of the drivers who will compete this weekend.
If you’re in northeast Minnesota, tune in to 94.9 FM or stream it online by clicking here to go to KQ’s website.