Thanks to Brainerd International Raceway’s race crew for another phenomenal year of racing! They’re an amazing collection of dedicated and passionate individuals who get giant kudos for the great work they do to ensure a safe, fun racing environment. Thanks for making BIR one of the best tracks in the Midwest and for making the racing experience enjoyable for drivers and their crews!
The World Racing League was on BIR’s Competition Road Course last weekend for a pair of endurance races, an eight-hour race on Saturday and a seven-hour race in the rain on Sunday. The objective is pretty simple: Complete more laps than anyone else. Below are results from each day. Photos below are from Jerry Winker, ComicOzzie Autosport Photography.
SATURDAY’S RESULTS – click on graphic below
SUNDAY’S RESULTS – click on graphic below
With series championships on the line and a chance for drivers to win Wally trophies, 322 drag racers punctuated the end of the racing season Saturday at Brainerd International Raceway with an exclamation point, or two.
Last weekend was the final spectator event of BIR’s season. It featured the Bracket Drag Racing Series on the drag strip and the World Racing League on BIR’s Competition Road Course. Mother Nature didn’t cooperate for drag racing on Sunday but the World Racing League ran in the rain and completed its pair of endurance races, an eight-hour race on Saturday and a seven-hour race on Sunday.
There was a lot on the line for drag racers. In addition to battling for series championships, Saturday’s race was also the annual NHRA All Access Challenge, commonly called the Wally Race. The winners of all the classes took home a Wally trophy, just like those that the NHRA pros win. Even the Junior Dragsters got in on the action. They also competed for Wally trophies as part of the NHRA Summit Racing Jr. Drag Racing League Challenge.
On the drag strip, the Super Pro class was awfully crowded as 107 drivers competed. One of them was Travis Hjelle, who won seven races Saturday to earn a spot in the Winner’s Circle. Driving a 1964 Nova, Hjelle lined up against Joe Schmall in the finals. Hjelle was almost perfect off the starting line, with a .004 reaction time, and wouldn’t be caught at the finish line, winning with a time of 9.889 seconds at 130.12 mph.
The Pro ET class also had high car counts, with 105 cars competing. The seventh and final round featured Steve Brings and Pat Haubrich, slugging it out for a Wally. Brings and his 1964 Ford Falcon beat Haubrich off the starting line and never looked back, posting a winning time of 9.208 seconds and 141.30 mph.
Hjelle and Brings then squared off in the Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout, with $3,000 in prize money at stake. Hjelle was a little over-anxious, though, and fouled at the starting line, giving Brings the easy win and a check for $2,000. Hjelle’s payoff was $1,000.
Jerry Hieb ran the table in the Sportsman class, outlasting 30 other drivers and beating Neil Webster in the finals. Driving a 1974 Camaro, Hieb was slower off the starting line but caught Webster at the finish line with a winning time of 12.029 seconds and 110.34 mph.
Richard Tadych rode his 2003 Arctic Cat F7 snowmobile to a win in the Pro Bike/Sled class. He beat Kayla Filipiak in the finals after flirting with a perfect reaction time (.002 seconds) and finishing her off at the finish line with a time of 10.764 seconds and 115.22 mph.
In the Comp Trophy class, Tim Williams handed Amy Jo Luberda a finals win by fouling at the starting line. Driving a 1994 Camaro, Luberda still ran 12.518 seconds and 109.18 mph.
Ryan Rennquist has a Wally for his trophy case after winning the Street Trophy class. He beat Michael Ische in the finals with a time of 14.602 seconds and 92.42 mph.
Wally trophies went home with three Junior Dragsters drivers as well: Sydney Thompson, Ally Giese and Daniel Dancer.
Thompson drove her dragster to a Junior Dragster Advanced finals win over Jazper Wiebusch, with a winning time of 8.003 seconds and 79.52 mph. In Junior Dragster Intermediate, Giese beat Megan Cielinski in the finals by posting a time of 9.471 seconds and 65.13 mph. And Dancer shuffled home with a finals win in Junior Dragster Novice when Daniela Krech fouled at the starting line.
On the road course, 21 cars made up the field for the World Racing League’s Comp Du Lacs Brainerd, a pair of endurance races. Although 21 cars started the race on Saturday, only 14 finished. The team that completed the most laps after seven hours had elapsed was In The Red 1, which completed 254 laps. Team Braunschweig was second with 252 laps and North Loop Motorsports was third with 250 laps.
Braunschweig turned in the best single-lap time of 1:45.480 and the top speed of 85.324 mph, both of which were achieved in the team’s final lap of the race.
On Sunday, the same three teams finished on top of the standings, but Braunschweig nudged out In The Red 1 for the win, with North Loop Motorsports taking third again. Braunschweig completed 189 laps, while In The Red 1 finished with 188 laps and 187 for North Loop Motorsports.
Braunschweig turned in the best single-lap time and speed again, with 1:58.729 and 75.803 mph, respectively
Drag Racing results from Saturday, Sept. 30
Finals: Travis Hjelle of Karlstad def. Joe Schmall of Lino Lakes
Finals: Steve Brings of Howard Lake def. Pat Haubrich of New Ulm
Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout
Finals: Steve Brings of Howard Lake def. Travis Hjelle of Karlstad
Finals: Jerry Hieb of Maple Grove def. Neil Webster of Little Canada
Finals: Richard Tadych of Fertile def. Kayla Filipiak of Isanti
Finals: Amy Jo Luberda of Sauk Rapids def. Tim Williams of Corcoran
Finals: Ryan Rennquist of Cloquet def. Michael Ische of Minnetonka
Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Sydney Thompson of Nowthen def. Jazper Wiebusch of Ham Lake
Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Ally Giese of Kandiyohi def. Megan Cielinski of Gilman
Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Daniel Dancer of Foley def. Daniela Krech of Inver Grove Heights
The final spectator event of the season is this weekend as the Bracket Drag Racing Series determines its series champions while the World Racing League spends two days on the road course for a pair of endurance races.
Saturday is a significant day of racing for 300-plus drag racers competing in the Bracket Drag Racing Series. It’s the annual NHRA All Access Challenge, commonly called the “Wally Race.” The winners of all six classes – Super Pro, Pro ET, Sportsman, Pro Bike/Sled, Comp Trophy and Street Trophy – will take home a coveted Wally trophy, like the ones that the stars of the NHRA win.
Drag racers in the three Junior Dragster classes get in on the action, too. They’ll be competing Saturday in the annual NHRA Summit Racing Junior Drag Racing League Challenge, where winners will claim their own Wally trophy. The Junior Dragster classes is for racers ages 8-18.
While drag racers would love to add a Wally to their trophy case, most are gunning for a series championship as well. They’ve been accumulating series points over the previous 10 races, culminating in this weekend’s race for the title. Winners are determined both Saturday and Sunday, giving racers two more shots at earning valuable points. Fans can expect some high-intensity racing.
Over on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course, the World Racing League will have a pair of endurance races. Saturday features an eight-hour endurance race while Sunday’s race is a seven-hour affair.
Brainerd International Raceway’s famed Donnybrooke Road Course provided the setting for the Central Roadracing Association’s final round of the season last weekend, and the tight overall Expert and Novice championship battles provided the entertainment.
Going into the final round, Expert points leader Brian Hebeisen held a 54-point lead over reigning champion Kyle Ohnsorg, and Novice points leader Eric Hjelter was clinging to a 63-point lead. With at least 20 points going to the winner of each race, none of the four contenders were in a comfortable position, and each of them needed to battle for every point they could.
The tight championship battles affected those not even involved in those races as a significant amount of preparation was done by the commentary team, which bolstered its numbers for “Points Watch 2017.” Joining announcer Kris Skellenger in the commentary booth was Cheap Thrills Moto rider Ewa Kalinsky, who kept the current points standings updated, and TPL Racing’s Jordan Imrie, who pretty much sat behind Skellenger the whole day. Word has it that since he is used to being behind Skellenger on track, he is more comfortable behind him off track as well.
Fisk Brothers Racing pulled out all the stops in its pursuit of the overall championship for Hebeisen. Ohnsorg matched them every step of the way with both riders competing in every race on Saturday aside from Formula 40. The battle raged on all day in multiple classes with both riders on Yamaha R3’s, Suzuki SV650s, Yamaha R6’s and Ohnsorg bringing a gun to the knife fight in Unlimited by swinging a leg over his BMW S1000RR.
Ohnsorg had one thing in mind in every race – victory. His results were what you’d hope to see on a golf scorecard, with a series of 1’s in his race position column. Were it not for an unfortunate chain failure on his R6 or using his immense talent to highside one of the slowest bikes in the series while going straight (note, BIR’s front straight can be a bit slippery at times, can’t it Kyle?), Ohnsorg could have cleaned house by winning every race he was eligible for. Unfortunately, unlike golf, racing doesn’t offer mulligans and the rain that came in the late afternoon put a stop to “Peanut Brittle’s” attempt at winning every race he finished.
Realistically, Ohnsorg’s biggest hurdle was the tenacity of Hebeisen, who took time out of his busy schedule of flexing and not wearing a shirt to pick up as many points as possible throughout the day. Lacking the absolute speed of the dainty Ohnsorg, Hebeisen clearly understood that he could win the championship through consistency and smart riding. In some races, he pushed Ohnsorg and challenged for the win but in races where that wasn’t possible, he brought it home and earned solid points. Ohnsorg’s chain failure proved to be a giant momentum swing back toward Hebeisen, and Ohnsorg’s crash in Featherweight GP was the turning point in the championship. After taking maximum points in those races, Hebeisen just needed to complete 50 laps in Sunday’s annual 5-Hour Endurance Race to be classified as a points scorer and take home his first championship.
Hebeisen did just that and now holds the record as the oldest No. 1 plate-holder in CRA history, which seems fitting as the championship bonus from the CRA is one of those $3 pairs of reading glasses from the closest gas station. In all seriousness, massive congratulations go out to the Fisk Brothers Racing/Dryject, Inc. team of Hebeisen, Mark Fisk, Phil Fisk, Mike Smith, Anna Hanson, Brad Zajic and everyone else that made Hebeisen’s middle-aged dream come true.
The Novice side of the party was equally as intense with Sam Burke, who’s Ohnsorg’s teammate, in a similar scenario to the 2016 CRA champion. In order to take the championship, he needed to win every race he could. All season long, Burke has shown himself to be the quickest Novice rider in dry conditions but Eric Hjelter showed the world he meant business racing in the rain during the CRA’s August weekend.
With rain in the forecast for the Saturday afternoon, Hjelter needed to be like Hebeisen and grab every point possible. Unfortunately, a crash early in the day put one of his bikes out of commission and made the possibility of bringing home the championship very small. Burke was able to capitalize on Hjelter’s mistake. Even though Hjelter was able to borrow a bike to try to gain some points, it wasn’t enough to stop Burke as the championship lead changed hands during the final sprint race of the season.
With a 12-point lead going into the 5-hour race, Burke took home a solid result in the team race to claim top honors and show Ohnsorg how it should be done. The Novice championship was a great way to repay the faith shown in him by his team of Mike Husman, Cheryl Husman, the entire Ohnsorg family, Zack Johnson, Stephen Peterson and many more who helped him through the year.
The 5-Hour race usually takes top billing during the September CRA weekend as championships are usually wrapped up well before the last day of the season but that was not the case this year. With so much riding on who finished where, there was massive changes to rider lineups all the way up until registration closed for the race 30 minutes before practice started. Going into the race, the favorites for the overall win seemed to be 3-Hour Team Challenge winners Full Nelson (Jesse Nelson, Skellenger, Scott Stall), 3 Men and a Baby (Aaron Anderson, Burke, Shane Keaveny, Stephen Peterson), Ohnsorg’s Cheap Goats (Erik DeVaan, Ohnsorg, Jake Schmotter), and Power Bottoms (Clark Davis, Josh Harein, Drew See). Other teams to keep an eye on due to their role in the overall championships were Team Kramer (Jack Barton, Hebeisen, Chase Sellers) and The MAD MEN (Adam Bastien, Hjelter, Barry Schmidt, Luke Trombley).
Off the start, Full Nelson held the lead with Zach Hughes shocking the world by donning his gold-plated leathers and putting in a solid performance on Despacito teammate Pat Gill’s Yamaha R1M. Close behind them, 3 Men and a Baby held onto the final overall podium spot with Ohnsorg’s Cheap Goats right behind. The Power Bottoms tried an unusual alternative strategy early in the race when a dipstick malfunction (we won’t specify if the dipstick was human or not) caused a red flag due to oil on the track. The team used the red flag to clean the excess lube off of their bike and continue on.
Just past halfway, Full Nelson developed a transmission problem that pu them out of the race. Then the forecasted rain arrived, causing havoc up and down the field – at one point two riders crashed on the front straight within five minutes! Multiple red flags through the rest of the race to deal with many incidents caused by rain that at times made it difficult to even see created a perfect “never give up” scenario with multiple teams crashing, repairing their bikes, crashing again, repairing their bikes again, etc.
This scenario is usually where Billy Vossberg shines. Vossberg, riding for the aptly named team We Put the CRA in CRASH, has a history of throwing bikes down the road multiple times during races and somehow bringing home very solid finishes. The most recent CRA fast guy, Josh Harein, threw his hat into the Crash & Dash talent pool by having multiple ground meetings with the Power Bottoms bike and getting it back to the pits for repairs. At one point, outgoing Tech Inspector Clint Lee stationed himself at the Power Bottom’s pit area on the assumption Harein would be back shortly for another post-crash inspection.
When the clouds cleared and the checkered flag flew, Ohnsorg’s Cheap Goats took a one-lap victory over the Power Bottoms (both of which were GP3 teams) while We Put the CRA in CRASH took top honors in GP4 over 3 Men and a Baby. Alive @45, a team consisting of three 45-year old men riding an 18-year old bike (even if the bike is the age of legal consent, it’s still creepy) to a very popular win in the GP2 class and GP1 top honors went to What Happened to Sam Miller? – a question many of us will never know the answer to.
The 2017 season was yet another in a long line of exciting seasons in the club’s history and while the end of the season is always a bit disappointing, the good times will continue at the season-ending banquet on Oct. 21. Thanks for the entertainment in 2017, 2018 promises to have just as much action!
Pick your pleasure: Superbikes screaming around a road course or snowmobiles flying around buoys on open water. Fortunately, fans can have both this weekend during BIR’s Wet & Wild Weekend 2.0.
It’s a dual event weekend for fans who can watch both types of racing for a single ticket.
For the International Watercross Association, this weekend will be the final race on the schedule. Riders will be racing in eight different classes, including drag racing and oval racing around floating buoys. During oval racing, riders take off from shore, make four or five laps around the buoys and return to the same shore. Fans can watch from the shores of the lake.
The Central Roadracing Association (CRA) will be on BIR’s historic 3.1-mile Donnybrooke Road Course for three days of thrilling Superbike racing. It’s the last CRA weekend of the season, so bike counts will be high and speeds will be ridiculous as riders take on the track’s 10 turns and the mile-long straightaway.
Daily admission is $25, and kids 12 and under are free. Parking is also free.
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.
The car that NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt raced in 1989-90 will lead Saturday’s Street Car Cruise around Brainerd International Raceway’s 3.1-mile Donnybrooke Road Course at 7 p.m. as part of the 29th Annual GSTA Muscle Car Shootout.
The car, which is the first to earn more than $1 million in prize money, is a Goodwrench-sponsored Lumina Aerocoupe that was driven to wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1989 and 1990, setting a record during the 500-mile race along the way.
The car is now owned locally and will be available on Saturday for viewing. It’ll lead a parade of street-legal drag cars for four laps around the road course to prove that they can operate in normal driving conditions. It’s a requirement at each of BIR’s three Muscle Car Series races, and has become a popular event for race fans as they line the track through the pit area to watch the parade of cars.