Rick Schmidt, his home in Dickinson, N.D. is about 430 miles from Brainerd, but the drive home seems a lot shorter after he spends the weekend flying down the Brainerd International Raceway’s drag strip at 215 mph and finishing with a trip to the Winner’s Circle.
That’s how it went this season for Schmidt, who made the most of this first year in BIR’s Muscle Car Series by winning the Pro Outlaw Class championship. He won the Street Car Showdown, was runner up to defending champion Bill Krech during the PleasureLand RV Show & Go and then secured his championship by beating Krech in the finals of the Muscle Car Shootout.
“It worked out pretty good for us since it’s our first year,” Schmidt said modestly. “We like that series. The Brainerd area is so nice. It’s over 400 miles away but it’s worth the trip. We’ll be back to rock and roll next year for sure.”
Schmidt’s 2011 Mustang consistently ran about 6.5 seconds and over 210 mph but he thinks they can squeeze more out of the car over the winter.
BIR’s three-race Muscle Car Series concluded
Labor Day weekend with the 26th Annual Muscle Car Shootout. Nearly 300 drivers competed for a series championship in one of 12 classes, plus the Index Class Championship.
In the Outlaw Class, Jake Delmonico repeated as champion, after making two trips to the Winner’s Circle and finishing runner up at the Muscle Car Shootout. He swept the three races last year and was looking like he’d make it back-to-back sweeps until he ran into a quicker Bubba Romanyskyn in the finals of the Muscle Car Shootout.
“It was a good year,” Delmonico said. “I wish I could’ve finished it off with six straight wins but we ran into a ‘fast
Delmonico’s 1968 Camaro was rarely the fastest car in the field but he’s been a model of consistency when it came to reaction times and his elapsed time, running around 7.5 seconds and 185 mph.
Things might be a little different next year, he said. “I’m going to find more power but that that’s about it.”
There were very few naturally aspirated cars in the 33-car King Street field this year, but Mike Sterling’s 1966 Chevelle was one of them. But when the series concluded, Sterling was on top of the point standings in a class that has been dominated by Brian Mahnke since the series began in 2009. Sterling finished with two series wins and a runner up finish during the PleasureLand RV Show & Go.
Like Delmonico, Sterling never had the fastest car in the field, but he relied on consistency to get him from the starting line to the finish line. He was hovering around 8-second times and 165 mph.
The Real Street Unlimited Class has a new champion as well. Ian McNiven and his 1988 Mustang took home the crown after winning two of the series races. He lost in the semifinals of the Show & Go to eventual winner Jim Ripley, who was the defending champion with six straight finals appearances in 2012 and 2013.
In Real Street Natural, defending champion Matt Sathre was dominating the class with a streak of seven straight finals wins that resulted in back-to-back championships. But he was unable to earn any points in the first two races this year, opening the door for a new champion. Kelly Rutz capitalized on the opportunity and is now the reigning class champion.
Rutz won the Street Car Showdown, was runner up in the Show & Go and lost in the semifinals during the Muscle Car Shootout. That was enough to earn a top spot on the point standings.
Todd Malik frequently contended for the series championship in Real Street Natural by winning his way to the finals but then he moved over to the True Street Class last year and won the championship there, entering this year with a two-race winning streak. He finished this year with two wins and a runner-up finish during the Show & Go, which was good enough for a repeat championship and the start of a new streak.
Last year, BIR added the 660 Outlaw Street Class to the Muscle Car Series. BIR shortens the drag strip to one-eighth mile and adds tire restrictions to level the playing field for the racers. It resulted in some excellent racing, and for David Senderhauf, a series championship. He won the Show & Go and finished as runner up during the Street Car Showdown and Muscle Car Shootout.
The three Strip Eliminator classes had the largest car counts of any class, which makes it even tougher to repeat as champion. For example, Strip Eliminator 1 (SE1) had 40 cars in the points race and Strip Eliminator 2 (SE2) featured 64 cars. Strip Eliminator 3 saw Gary Tesar repeat as series champion despite a first-round loss at the Show & Go. He won the Muscle Car Shootout and was runner up during the Street Car Showdown.
In SE1, Roger Peterson had a consistent series, with three runner-up finishes. Guy Stengel lost in the second round of the Show & Go but still won the SE2 championship with runner-up finish at the Muscle Car Shootout and a semifinal finish at the Street Car Showdown.
Sue Seidel raced her 2003 GMC Sierra pickup to a series championship in the Truck Eliminator Class, while Keith Sand and his ’66 GTO took earned the Manual Transmission Class championship.
Below are the top three points-getters in each class.
First: Rick Schmidt of Dickinson, N.D.
Second: Bill Krech of Inver Grove Heights
Third: Lee Loew of Darvin
First: Jake Delmonico of St. Paul Park
Second: Bubba Romanyskyn of Belfield, N.D.
Third: Vern Laurin Jr. of Duluth
First: Mike Sterling of Oak Grove
Second: Jason Geiger of Hanska
Third: Chris Orr of Superior, Wis.
REAL STREET UNLIMITED
First: Ian McNiven of East Selkirk, Manitoba
Second: Marc Nolin of Tourond, Manitoba
Third: Duane Godbout of Cloquet
REAL STREET NATURAL
First: Kelly Rutz of Randall
Second: Jerry Stellrecht of Goodhue
Third: Bill Meyer of Andover
First: Todd Malik of Andover
Second: Jason Bergeson of Cottage Grove
Third: Jason Nelson of Champlin
660 OUTLAW STREET
First: David Senderhauf of Zimmerman
Second: Lucas Mlinar of East St. Paul, Manitoba
Third: Dale Peterson of Big Lake
STRIP ELIMINATOR 1
First: Roger Peterson of Menahga
Second: Kevin Sand of Cambridge
Third: Gerald Cook of Mora
STRIP ELIMINATOR 2
First: Guy Stengel of Blaine
Second: Jeff Lundeen of Buffalo
Third: Lee Purdham of Deerwood
STRIP ELIMINATOR 3
First: Gary Tesar of Medina
Second: Cameron Novak of Rice
Third: Gary Misfeldt of Andover
First: Sue Seidel of Battle Lake
Second: Justin Olafson of Park Rapids
Third: Chad Cramble of Fridley
First: Keith Sand of Cambridge
Second: Jeremy Reitmeier of Crookston
Third: Chuck Hoppe of North Branch
INDEX CLASS CHAMPION
First: Jon Kelly of Newport
Second: Bryan Hansen
Third: Reid Watson of Laporte