The Trans Am Series’ Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic from Brainerd International Raceway will be televised Saturday and Sunday (July 25 & 26) on CBS Sports Network.
BIR hosted the Trans Am race on July 5 as part of the 29th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go. With CBS cameras rolling, the Trans Am classes put on crazy great race, with Amy Ruman winning the TA class and an amazing finish in TA2 with Duluth native Tommy Archer finishing second behind Dillon Machavern after a mad scramble between the top three drivers.
Fans will have four chances to watch BIR’s Trans Am race, which will be part of 16 hours of Trans Am coverage Saturday and Sunday from races at BIR, Sebring, Fla., Road Atlanta and Lime Rock, Conn. BIR’s race will air at:
11 am on Saturday
5 pm on Saturday
1 am on Sunday
4 am on Sunday
So tune in or set your DVRs/recorders. You can find your CBS Sports Network channel by clicking here.
There will be noticeable storm damage this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway but racing will go on anyway.
BIR expects to be ready to host the Central Roadracing Association (CRA) Friday through Sunday for Superbike racing on BIR’s original 3.1-mile Donnybrooke Road Course. BIR did, however, cancel the Wednesday Night Street Drags that were scheduled for Wednesday evening. That includes drag racing and drifting, both of which were scheduled.
The track for this weekend’s Superbike racing will be free of debris and in good shape, after a wicked storm ripped through the area Sunday evening, doing extensive damage to the track. The storm, with straight-line winds clocked at 70 mph, toppled and twisted a section of bleachers on the dragstrip, ripped the roofs off of the press box and the main shop, rolled at least two RVs in the campground, blew down dozens of signs, flipped over large dumpsters and knocked down too many trees to count.
Power has been restored to the BIR Ticket Office, which will open at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The office will also have the ability to print tickets, and online ticket sales will resume.
All other events on BIR schedule, including the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals set for Aug. 20-23, will still take place. The bleacher situation will be addressed in the coming weeks, and the main grandstand will be tested to ensure that it’s safe.
The CRA has a big weekend of racing planned. Friday includes practice sessions. Saturday’s schedule includes practice sessions in the morning, followed by eight-lap sprints and 18-lap Trophy Dashes in the afternoon. On Sunday, the morning’s practice sessions will be followed by eight-lap sprints and the eight-lap Formula 40 race.
Daily admission is $20. Tickets are available at the front gate, and kids 12 and younger are free. Camping is free with a multi-day ticket.
Photo by SDE
A nasty storm blew through Brainerd International Raceway Sunday night, causing extensive damage and leading the track to cancel the Wednesday Night Street Drags this week.
As of Monday morning, most of the track was without power. The Ticket Office will be closed until power is restored, and BIR is unable to sell online tickets until power is restored to its computer servers.
The Wednesday Night Street Drags that were scheduled for this Wednesday have been cancelled. As of now, that’s the only event cancelled. So far, the CRA Superbike Racing scheduled for this weekend is still on.
The storm, with straight-line winds clocked at 60-70 mph, toppled and twisted a section of bleachers on the dragstrip, ripped the roofs off of the press box and the main shop, rolled at least two RVs in the campground, blew down dozens of signs, flipped over large dumpsters and knocked down too many trees to count.
BIR is coordinating volunteers who want to help clean up the track. People with chainsaws are badly needed. We also need people who can help pick up garbage and debris, clear branches and timber, and generally help out with whatever else needs to be done. Dress appropriately and bring work gloves, water and snacks for yourself.
Volunteers should just show up at the front gate for instructions. The Ticket Office is closed so nobody’s answering phones. And please do not attempt to call Jed and Kristi Copham unless it’s an emergency. They’re extremely busy with storm damage at the track and their house.
PLEASE, the track is closed to anyone who just wants to view the storm damage. Some parts of the track are still dangerous. Unless you’re coming to help work, you are not allowed inside the track.
A HUGE thank you to those who have already graciously volunteered to help out. We can’t thank you enough. We really appreciate it.
We’ll post more updates as we get them. Watch our Social Media feeds for updates.
Joe Howell is the 2015 King of the Track at Brainerd International Raceway.
Howell, who’s racing in BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series for the first time this year, narrowly beat Myron Streit in the finals of the King of the Track run-off Saturday to claim the crown, a Wally trophy and bragging rights for a year.
Howell showed up for last weekend’s Bracket race sitting in first place in the Pro ET Class, which qualified him for the King of the Track run-off on Saturday. He had some good luck in the first round when Jon Kelly fouled at the starting line. He beat Joe Moriarty in Round 2 and then faced off against James Findell, who took down last year’s King of the Track, Ben Line, in the first round with a near-perfect reaction time of .001 seconds. But Findell was too quick on the trigger and fouled at the starting line, giving Howell a free pass to the finals against Streit, who has been red hot in the Super Pro Class and was sitting on top of the point standings.
Howell and his 1986 Mustang was a hair quicker off the starting line and held on to beat Streit by 17/1,000ths of a second at the finish line.
“I’ve been racing against Myron for 20 years so when I saw that I was racing him in the finals, I knew I had to step it up,” said Howell, who has been in the King of the Track races at other tracks but had never won.
The King of the Track is an annual race at BIR. It pits the top two racers in each class against each other to determine who represents the class. The winners are then paired up for a run-off, with the last driver standing earning the King of the Track title and a Wally. Howell now has four Wallys.
The King of the Track race was part of the fourth Bracket Drag Racing Series weekend of the season, which featured a lot of winning by racers named Loeffelholz.
Gary Loeffelholz won the Super Pro Class on Sunday with a finals win over his 17-year-old son, Kyle. Gary’s other son, 21-year-old Reno, won the Pro ET Class both Saturday and Sunday, which will shake things up for Howell and the rest of the racers at the top of the standings. Reno was in 17th place entering the weekend.
Reno had his 1968 Mustang dialed in all weekend, beating Brandon Schmall in the finals Saturday with a time of 9.196 seconds and 143.25 mph, and then disposing of Gary Schueneman in Sunday’s finals with a 9.292-second pass at 133.75 mph. There were 82 cars in the Pro ET field.
On top of that, Reno pocketed $2,000 in Saturday’s Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout, where the Super Pro and Pro ET winners race for a $3,000 purse. Reno beat Jack MacFarlane, who took home $1,000 for his efforts.
Schmall rebounded from his Pro ET finals loss Saturday by winning the Sportsman Class by beating Jerry Jolly with a pass of 12.437 seconds and 98.86 mph.
In Pro Bike/Sled, Jimmy Paulson scored a win on Saturday and a runner-up finish on Sunday to maintain his place at the top of the standings. He beat Jayme Bode on Saturday with a 9.361-second run at 133.90 mph, and lost to Mike Voss in Sunday’s finals when Voss ran 9.434 seconds and 129.42 mph.
In Street Trophy, Tyler Gadacz continued his winning ways with finals victories Saturday and Sunday over Hannah Line and Todd Anderson, respectively.
Brian Tuma and his 1934 Roadster took home $1,200 by winning the Quick 16 Shootout Saturday. He beat Jordan Pratt in the finals. Pratt fouled at the starting line but still took home $500 for his runner-up finish.
Two weekends are left in the six-weekend Bracket Drag Racing Series. The next one is Aug. 8-9.
The following are results from the weekend.
SATURDAY, JULY 11
Finals: Jack MacFarlane of Aitkin def. Ryan Scheleck of St. Cloud
Finals: Reno Loeffelholz of Shafer def. Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes
Finals: Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes def. Jerry Jolly of Maplewood
Finals: Douglas Jonak of Zimmerman def. Joe DeMarias of Forest Lake
Finals: Jimmy Paulson of Stacy def. Jayme Bode of Gibbon
Finals: Sid Osterman of Pequot Lakes def. Mike Larson of Brainerd
Finals: Taylor Gadacz of Little Falls def. Hannah Line of Cromwell
Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Maggie Ruzich of Hibbing def. Cassidy Takacs of Thunder Bay, Ontario
Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Samantha Cielinski of Gilman def. Camryn Takacs of Thunder Bay, Ontario
Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Dylan Dancer of Foley def. Cameron Giese of Kandiyohi
Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout
Finals: Reno Loeffelholz of Shafer def. Jack MacFarlane of Aitkin
Quick 16 Shootout
Finals: Brian Tuma of Pillager def. Jordan Pratt of Otsego
SUNDAY, JULY 12
Finals: Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer def. Kyle Loeffelholz of Shafer
Finals: Reno Loeffelholz of Shafer def. Gary Schueneman of Elko
Finals: Mark Pease of Corcoran def. Brad Mickle of Lino Lakes
Finals: James Findell of Zimmerman def. Ron Zenzen of St. Cloud
Finals: Mike Voss of Maplewood def. Jimmy Paulson of Stacy
Finals: Brandon Keller of St. Cloud def. Andrew Walcheski of Foley
Finals: Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls def. Todd Anderson of Brainerd
Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Sarah Johnson of Nowthen def. Sydney Thompson of Nowthen
Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Camryn Takacs of Thunder Bay, Ontario def. Jazper Wiebusch of Ham Lake
Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Riley Luberda of Foley def. Dylan Dancer of Foley
For 14 drivers in Brainerd International Raceway’s Bracket Drag Racing Series, Saturday’s race has extra importance – it’s a showdown for the title of King of the Track.
The top two racers in the point standings will battle it out to determine the best of the best in BIR’s six-weekend Bracket Drag Racing Series. They’ll also walk away with a coveted Wally trophy, a King of the Track hat and bragging rights for a year. Just ask Ben Line, who races in Stock/Super Stock. He’ll be trying to repeat as King this year again.
The elimination system is set up like this: The top two racers in the point standings in Super Pro, Pro ET, Sportsman, Stock/Super Stock, Pro Bike/Sled, Comp Trophy and Street Trophy classes will race each other to determine who represents the class. The final seven racers are then paired up, with the last driver remaining earning the crown.
The 14 drivers competing for King of the Track are the following:
Super Pro: Myron Streit of St. Cloud and Michael Anderson of St. Joseph
Pro ET: Joe Howell of Big Lake and Jon Kelly of Newport
Sportsman: Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes and Russ Elzy of Becker
Stock/Super Stock: James Findell of Zimmerman and Ben Line of International Falls
Pro Bike/Sled: Jimmy Paulson of Stacy and Kyle Olson
Comp Trophy: Jared Hutar of Cromwell and Sid Osterman of Pequot Lakes
Street Trophy: Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls and Joe Moriarty Jr. of Ham Lake
In addition to the King of the Track runoff, more than 250 drivers are expected this weekend to battle for series points and prize money. It’s the fourth racing weekend of the season, with only two left before series champions are determined. The daily racing program for Saturday and Sunday include time trials in the morning followed by eliminations. There will be class winners both days.
Big prize money goes to the winner of the Shootout each day. The winner of the Super Pro Class and the Pro ET Class go head to head in the Shootout, with the winner taking home $2,000 and the runner up winning $1,000. The Quick 16 Shootout on Saturday (new to the program this year) is another chance at a driver pay day. The eight quickest door cars and the eight quickest dragsters pair up, with the quickest of the bunch taking home $1,200. The runner up wins $500.
On Sunday, BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course will be busy with Road Closed Productions’ Track Day for Bikes. It’s open to all road bike riders who want to test themselves and their bikes on a race track.
Click here for more details about the Bracket Drag Racing Series.
For three days of drag racing last weekend, Rick Schmidt had the fastest car on the track. His 2011 Mustang qualified No. 1, heading into Sunday’s elimination rounds, with a best time of 6.373 seconds at 219.47 mph.
It looked like Schmidt was going to extend his Pro Outlaw Class victories streak to three, dating back to last year’s Muscle Car Shootout, but he fouled at the starting line against Joseph Wilczek in the semifinal round, leaving Wilczek and Rene Rivard to decide the class winner in the finals. Wilczek and his 2000 Mustang ran a very quick 6.723 seconds and 206.92 mph in the finals, even though he was guaranteed the win when Rivard fouled at the starting line.
Wilczek was one of many winners on the drag strip last weekend, during the second leg of the three-race Muscle Car Series, which was part of the 29th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go. As usual, the drag racers entertained fans with some amazing racing, but Sunday’s focus was on the Competition Road Course, where the Trans Am Series had its 40-lap, 100-mile Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic. The National Auto Sport Association was on the road course Saturday and Sunday as well.
Back on the drag strip, the Outlaw Class ended in similar fashion. Peter Campbell was the top driver in the class, qualifying No. 1 with the fastest time (7.081 seconds) and the top speed (208.36 mph). In Sunday’s semifinal round, he disposed of Warren Peterson, who won the class Memorial Day weekend during the Street Car Showdown and was looking to start a winning streak of his own. That moved Campbell into the finals against Greg Schmidt, who was winning rounds with times almost a second slower than Campbell. But Campbell fouled at the starting line and then broke, handing Schmidt and his ’88 Camaro an easy win with a final pass of 7.745 seconds and 179.40 mph.
The 24-car King Street field featured some great drag racing and followed the script a little closer than the top two classes. The finals pitted Jason Geiger and his ’68 Camaro against Josh Knudsen with his ’79 Mustang. Geiger qualified No. 1 with the fastest time (7.914 seconds) while Knudsen qualified No. 2 with the fastest speed (176.12 mph).
Knudsen was first off the starting line but couldn’t hold off Geiger, who won with a time of 7.935 seconds and 173.36 mph. Knudsen ran 8.001 seconds and 176.12 mph. The win moved Geiger into first place in the standings, just two points ahead of Knudsen.
In Real Street Unlimited, Dave Hodgman and his 1968 Chevelle knocked off the No. 1 qualifier, Duane Godbout, in the semifinals to set up a showdown with Jad Carlson. On paper, the matchup would’ve been a good one but Carlson fouled at the starting line, handing Hodgman the easy win.
Darrell Godbout and his 1969 Camaro had the best qualifying time (7.187 seconds) and top speed (148.14 mph) in the Real Street Natural Class, and then won his way to the finals against Bill Meyers. Meyers was quicker off the starting line but he couldn’t hold off Godbout, who came storming past him for the win with a run of 9.437 seconds and 147.60 mph. Meyers ran 10.124 seconds and 132.78 mph.
The True Street Class finals ended in another starting-line foul. Dan Gefre and his ’83 Chevy Malibu Wagon qualified No. 1 and was rolling through the elimination rounds. He faced off against Ian McNiven in the finals but he fouled, giving McNiven a free pass to the Winner’s Circle.
Chris Gullilkson and his ’68 Chevelle was the top qualifier in the 660 Street Outlaw Class, although Lucas Mlinar had the fastest time (4.799 seconds) and the top speed (161.30 mph). So it was fitting that the two ended up in the finals. Their reaction times off the starting line were almost identical but Gullikson’s Chevelle was the quicker car in that race, finishing with a 4.899-second, 154.46 mph pass. Mlinar finished with 6.164 seconds and 84.72 mph. The 660 Street Outlaw Class is an eighth mile race.
Gary Olson and his ’79 Camaro was crowned the Index Class Champion with his win over Kevin Sand. The winners of the 10 Index Classes were paired up for a runoff to determine the Index Class Champion. Olson won the 12.00 Index Class, with Sand winning the 10.00 Index. Olson won the showdown with a time of 11.965 seconds at 111.24 mph.
The Muscle Car Series’ grand finale is Labor Day weekend during the 27th Annual GSTA Muscle Car Shootout, when class champions will be determined, so fans and drivers alike can expect some intense drag racing.
Below are the winners of each class:
Finals: Joseph Wiczek of Little Falls def. Rene Rivard of Winnipeg, Manitoba
Semifinals: Wiczek def. Rich Schmidt of Dickinson, N.D.; Rivard had a bye
Finals: Greg Schmidt of Baxter def. Peter Campbell of West St. Paul, Manitoba
Semifinals: Schmidt had a bye; Campbell def. Warren Peterson of Duluth
Finals: Jason Geiger of Hanska def. Josh Knudsen of Fontenac
Semifinals: Geiger had a bye; Knudsen def. Mike Sterling of Oak Grove
Real Street Unlimited
Finals: Dave Hodgman of Ramsey def. Jad Carlson of Clearwater
Semifinals: Hodgman def. Duane Godbout of Cloquet; Carlson had a bye
Real Street Natural
Finals: Darrell Godbout of Carlton def. Bill Meyer of Andover
Semifinals: Godbout had a bye; Meyer def. Robert Wilczek of Little Falls
Finals: Ian McNiven of East Selkirk, Manitoba def. Dan Gefre of Coon Rapids
Semifinals: McNiven def. Todd Malik of Andover; Gefre def. Randy Belchar of Detroit Lakes
660 Outlaw Street
Finals: Chris Gullikson of North Branch def. Lucas Mlinar of Winnipeg, Manitoba
Semifinals: Gullikson had a bye; Mlinar def. Aaron VanHell of Otsego
Strip Eliminator 1
Finals: Sean Hutmacher of Gonor, Manitoba def. Kevin Sand of Cambridge
Semifinals: Hutmacher def. Logan Loesch of Hastings; Sand had a bye
Strip Eliminator 2
Finals: Scott Davich of Pequot Lakes def. Brad Schottenbauer of Zimmerman
Semifinals: Davich def. Lonnie Ellenson of Park Rapids; Schottenbauer def. George Dinzeo of Woodbury
Strip Eliminator 3
Finals: Jessica Purdham of Albertville def. Jessica Enberg of Minnetrista
Semifinals: Purdham def. Kyle Lendt of Farmington; Enberg had a bye
Finals: Troy Novak of Rice def. Chad Rach of Aitkin
Finals: Gregory Dancer of Foley won
Index Class Champion
Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell (12.00) def. Kevin Sand of Cambridge (10.00)
Finals: Bill Reiling of Pine Island def. Patrick Heubner of Bloomington
Finals: Kevin Sand of Cambridge def. Jim Kielty of Barnum
Finals: Steve Winter of Rochester def. Brian Peterson of Park Rapids
Finals: Bryan Hansen of Minneapolis def. Jason Hartkoff of Eden Valley
Finals: Jon Kelly of Newport def. Brian Brinkman of Maplewood
Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. Daniel Richier of Eden Valley
Finals: Kevin Hemenway of Park Rapids def. Reid Watson of Laport
Finals: Jesse Backstrom of Grand Marais def. Aaron Hall of Rogers
Finals: Gary Nelson of North Branch def. Bryan Brager of Pillager
Finals: Gary Tesar of Medina def. Sue Seidel of Battle Lake
Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, captured her fifth TA class victory of the year with a win in the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic at Brainerd International Raceway Sunday, overcoming class traffic and a strong challenge from Cliff Ebben during the final length of the race. Ruman started the day in second position behind polesitter Doug Peterson, in the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette, but took the lead on only the fifth lap of the race and never looked back.
“This McNichols 23 car has just been awesome all year long,” said Ruman. “I just waited patiently and set Doug up for that pass, and we made it stick. I thought Cliff had something for us at the end, but I just tried to focus and stay out front, and to God be the glory on this one, because they threw everything at us; it was hot, it was dirty, it was grimy, it was slick, and it was just a long race— but luckily we prevailed.”
The Independence Day Classic was the featured event during BIR’s 29th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go, an action-packed weekend that included Muscle Car Series drag racing and National Auto Sport Association road racing, as well as a classic car show, fireworks, live music and more.
While Ruman seemed uncatchable in TA, the second half of the race featured a major league battle between the top three TA2 drivers, one of which was Duluth’s Tommy Archer, a track favorite. He was locked into a slug fest with Gar Robinson and Dillon Machavern, who passed Robinson and Archer during the 37th lap and held them off for the win. The Classic was a 40-lap, 100-mile race, with 39 cars on the track.
The win dramatically increased Ruman’s points lead as she exits Round 6 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship with 193 points, opening up a 37 point lead over runner-up Paul Fix, whose day was ended prematurely resulting in a 10th place finish.
“We were hoping to come into this weekend and try and gain as many points as we could and thankfully that happened for us,” said Ruman. “Unfortunately for Paul things didn’t turn out well, but we’ll take the points. We really want to win this championship; there are six races to go yet and it’s a long season. We’re not going to take anything for granted, and we’ll take that momentum into our hometrack at Mid-Ohio next round.”
Ruman was followed across the finish line by Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/McMahon Group Ford Mustang, whose second place finish marked his third podium of the year. Peterson, the two-time defending TA Champion, managed to recover from contact with a lapped car to secure third place on the podium, bolstering his own points total to 144—strong enough for third in the Championship race.
David Pintaric, in the No. 59 Kryderacing Chevrolet Corvette, finished fourth in the TA class, his best finish of the year, while Kerry Hitt, in the No. 19 Advanced Composite Products, Inc., Chevrolet Corvette rounded out the top five.
Machavern, driver of the No. 24 UniFirst/PPG Ford Mustang, had his hands full with Robinson, in the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, and Archer, in the No. 54 c3controls Chevrolet Camaro— surging into first place when both Robinson and Archer were blocked by lapped traffic. Machavern managed to fend off the charges of Robinson and Archer for the final three laps of the race and came home with his first TA2 victory, this time over the 20-car TA2 field.
“We’ve worked really hard to get here,” said Machavern. “Finally we get the win! We’ve been working all season— every race we’re getting better. We’re improving, and we’re learning more about the car and this platform. I just want to thank the Heritage Motorsports Group for giving me a great car. It was a hard battle out there, and I was just lucky to come out on top.”
Machavern has been competitive all season as he continues his rookie year in Trans Am; and while the victory marks his fourth podium appearance on the year, the competition certainly has not made it easy on him.
“I have to say I think the competition in TA2 is some of the best out there,” said Machavern. “I raced in the Continental Tire Series last year, and the competition has nothing on this—it’s been incredibly challenging getting to this top step. These cars are a blast to drive, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere other than TA2 right now.”
Machavern also reaped the points benefits of his win, propelling him to second in the TA2 Championship race with a total of 139 and moving him within 20 points of current Championship points leader Cameron Lawrence, driver of the No. 1 MOPAR Dodge Challenger, and into the lead of the Rookie of the Year standings.
Robinson finished third, increasing his own points total to 133, now tied with Adam Andretti for third position in the Championship chase. Archer, who began the race on pole and spent much off it battling back and forth with Robinson, and secured a second place finish in his return to the driver’s seat after overcoming a battle with prostate cancer.
Lawrence would finish fourth while Tony Ave, in the No. 70 Lamers Motor Racing Ford Mustang, finished fifth—both drivers effectively had a hard cap set on their finishes halfway through the race, as they were misfortunate enough to be on the wrong side of Ruman when the full course yellow came out on lap 18, splitting the TA2 field in half.
In TA3, Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper, and Jason Fichter, in the No. 79 Turn 7 Motor Sports Chevrolet Camaro, both captured their first Trans Am victories in the International Group and American Muscle Group, respectively.
For Lux the race marked a flag to flag victory as she battled both teammate Steve Stremier, driver of the No. 42 Lux Performance Dodge Viper, and the slippery Brainerd surface in pursuit of her first Trans Am finish and victory.
“BIR absolutely lived up to its reputation as a survivor’s course,” said Lux. “It’s a race, but it’s also a war. It’s not about the war between us; it’s the war with the course and the clock. That’s the cool thing about the race; there’s so much to manage. We carry the most weight in the class, so we really have to focus on not over-driving the car. The guys set up the cars so that it’s easy for anyone to drive them; I’m just the lucky gal who gets behind the wheel. I’ve got a lot to learn from the Series, this being my first finish.”
Streimer would outlast Jerry Greene, driver of the No. 93 Temp Air Porsche 996 GT3, for second place, his second podium on the year, while Greene’s third place finish marked his fourth podium finish and moved the veteran up to third in the TA3 International Championship points.
Fichter began the race in third, inheriting the lead from polesitter, teammate, points leader and defending Champion Ernie Francis, Jr., driver of the No. 98 Breathless Performance Chevrolet Camaro, who saw his race hampered by a power failure halfway through the race and fending off eventual second place finisher Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Chevrolet Camaro, for the second half of the race. The win marked Fichter’s second podium and victory in the American Muscle Group.
“The track was pretty messy out there with all those cars,” said Fichter. “I tried to just run a clean race—keep out of it all as best I could. We had a little bit of contact out there, but it wasn’t too bad. Hopefully, we can be up here again. Ernie had some issues out there with overheating—not sure exactly was it was—but he wanted to dedicate this race to his grandmother; so I’m going to go ahead and dedicate this win to all the grandmothers, his included.”
Todd Napieralski would finish second, closing the gap between himself and Francis to only 19 points; while Tim Rubright, in the No. 77 Blue Knob Auto Ford Mustang, took home third—his first ever TA3 podium placement.
In total, 39 cars participated in the race at Brainerd International Raceway as the Trans Am Series made its 28th appearance on the Minnesota-based track.
The race will be broadcast in full on CBS Sports Network on July 25, at 11 a.m.
KQDS-FM will broadcast its wildly popular morning show from BIR’s Tower Suites Friday morning. KQDS, the top radio station in the Duluth market and throughout most of northeast Minnesota, will broadcast live from 6-10 a.m. from the Tower Suites overlooking the drag strip starting line.
The show stars Jason Manning and Scott Savage, who will be talking about this weekend’s 29th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go all morning. The conversation will include interviews with some of the drivers who will compete this weekend, including Duluth’s own Tommy Archer, who will be driving in Sunday’s Trans Am Series race. Archer and his brothers John and Bobby are legendary racers in Minnesota. They’ve won at nearly every level of road racing throughout the country and call BIR their hometrack.
The morning show now airs in the Brainerd area on 95.9 FM. You can hear the show in Duluth and most of northeast Minnesota as well, and streaming online by clicking here to go to KQ’s website.
As Trans Am prepares for its annual northern pilgrimage to Brainerd International Raceway, it does so in the midst of the creation of a new tradition, a celebration of both Trans Am’s heritage at this historic home for the Series and our country with the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, Round 6 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship July 4-5.
Trans Am brings with it a 41-car field to assist in the celebration, a near record entry at Brainered International Raceway, in the Series’ long and storied history at the Minnesota-based track—marking a drastic increase over the 29-car entry Trans Am fielded only last year.
“With this new date, we’re working to build something special at BIR,” said John Clagett, President of The Trans Am Race Company. “This is unquestionably one of the true homes of Trans Am, one that we’ve been racing at since 1969. Now, with the partnership of Ryan Companies, we’re bringing the spectacle of Trans Am at BIR to a national audience on CBS Sports Network and are working to build an event that celebrates the Fourth of July in style.”
In addition, hometown fans will have the opportunity to root for a large Minnesota contingent of drivers and teams who have made their own names within the Trans Am Series, including: Derhaag Motorsports, Archer Racing, Joe Stevens, Tim Gray, Jerry Greene, Jed Copham and, last, but certainly not least, Tommy Archer.
BIR will mark Archer’s return to Trans Am’s TA2 class, complete with a brand new No. 54 c3controls Chevrolet Camaro, after having sat out the prior four rounds in a final round of treatments in his battle with prostate cancer. Now cancer-free Archer, a Duluth native, will make a return to the drivers seat; as he begins his pursuit of Trans Am podiums once more at his home track of Brainerd International Raceway.
Jed Copham, owner of BIR and now driver of the 07 BIR Performance Chevrolet Corvette, has also thrown his hat into the ring for the weekend as a member of the TA class, competing in Trans Am for the third year in a row, as he prepares to take the meaning of home track advantage to a whole new level.
Joe Stevens, driver of the No. 11 MOPAR Dodge Challenger, hot off his career high fifth place finish at New Jersey Motorsports Park joins the hometrack contingent along with Ryan Companies’ own Tim Gray, in the No. 60 Ryan Companies US Inc Chevrolet Camaro, as they both push for their first podium placements of the year.
Derhaag Motorsports, based out of Minneapolis, will look to rebound at BIR as both Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, and Mickey Wright, in the No. 6 Fan Rag Chevrolet Corvette, prepare under the guidance of team owner Jim Derhaag, Minnesota native, who perhaps knows the nuances of the BIR course better than anyone in the Trans Am paddock.
Jerry Greene, driver of the No. 93 Temp Air Porsche 996 GT3, will also carry the Minnesota banner as the lone home-state entrant in TA3, Trans Am’s production based class—a competition that he won at BIR last year.
All eyes will also be on the hotly contested battle for the TA class Championship between current points leader Amy Ruman, driver of the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, and Paul Fix, in the No. 4 StopFlex.com/TheCarCoach.com Chevrolet Corvette. Ruman currently leads Fix by a meager 11 points going into BIR, setting up a second half of the season showdown between the two hottest drivers in the Trans Am paddock—both are yet to miss the podium; and while Ruman has four wins to Fix’s one, the pressure is on for both drivers in one of the tightest Championship races in memory.
One would be remise to neglect the presence of Doug Peterson, in the No. 87 3Dimensional.com Chevrolet Corvette. Peterson, two-time defending TA class Champion and 2014 BIR victor has had a less than optimal start to the season, hampered by mechanical issues and poor fortune; however the champ is more than well aware that there are plenty of races remaining on the 2015 circuit and a repeat performance at BIR would go a long way towards spring boarding his title defense.
Peterson, will join the likes of Cliff Ebben, John Baucom, David Pintaric, Claudio Burtin and Jim McAleese in an attempt to put a fresh face on the top of the TA class podium, one that has been dominated by Ruman and Fix so far in 2015.
In TA2 two-time defending Champion Cameron Lawrence will look for a return to form after two races in which his podium pursuits have been ended prematurely by contact on course. While he still holds a large lead in the TA2 point standings, he’s seen his gap over runner-up Adam Andretti, driver of the No. 44 Engineered Components Ford Mustang, dwindle and will be more than ready for a return to normalcy in a class that he’s dominated over the past two years.
Standing in his way will be a bevy of competitors in the 20-car deep talent pool that is the TA2 class, with front runners like Andretti; Gar Robinson, in the No. 74 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro; Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 UniFirst Ford Mustang, Shane Lewis; in the No. 72 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro; and Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 5 Raybestos Powertrain Ford Mustang, all looking to increase their current top five point standings and force their way into the Championship discussion for the remainder of the year.
Andretti in particular seems to have finally found his niche several races into the ECC team’s switch to the Ford Mustang platform, a switch that finally saw their efforts rewarded with a victory at New Jersey last round. Now, Andretti will aim to keep that momentum alive as he prepares to close the gap on Lawrence and reignite a rivalry with the two-time champ that went down to the wire last year.
As always, fans will be sure to keep an eye on Tony Ave, in the No. 70 Lamers Motor Racing Ford Mustang, as he continues his first season in TA2. The former two-time TA class Champion already has one TA2 win under his belt and has a history of success at Brainerd where he has four TA class victories.
Trans Am’s TA3 class will also be on display with both American Muscle and International Group set to participate. In the American Muscle class, current TA3 points leader and defending Champion, Ernie Francis, Jr., will once more be matched against Todd Napieralski, in the No. 39 Tremec/SKF/Backstreet Chevrolet Camaro—the two are currently one-two in the points as they head north to BIR where Napieralski was victorious last year—there, they will be joined by Fernando Seferis, Mel Shaw, Tim Rubright and Jason Fichter in the pony car exclusive class.
In the International Group, Minnesota’s own Jerry Greene will see the precision of his Porsche GT3 pitted against the American power of Lux Performance Group’s Dodge Vipers, driven by Cindi Lux and Steve Streimer. Greene will look to continue his success at his home track compared to the competition, as both Lux and Stremier prepare to make their Trans Am debuts at BIR.
Trans Am will kick off the weekend’s festivities on Saturday, July 4th with practice at 10:30 a.m. central, followed by “Fast Five” qualifying at 2:20 p.m. Action will continue on Sunday, July 5th at 9:00 a.m. for a second practice session followed by the second chance to qualify at 9:30 a.m. as teams prepare for the 100-mile, 40 lap, Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic at 1:50 p.m. for Round 6 of the 2015 Trans Am Championship with all three classes participating.
Trans Am will be joined at BIR by drag racing, the National Auto Sport Association, live music and a firework display for a full weekend of celebration and motorsports.
By Trans Am Series