Johnson claims double win in Bracket Drag Racing Series

Brian Johnson had a busy weekend on the drag strip at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR), but that’s what happens when you’re winning lots of races.

Johnson raced in 17 rounds Saturday and Sunday – in addition to time trials and qualifying runs – during the Bracket Drag Racing Series, winning the Super Pro class, the Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout and the Quick 16 class, after  losing in Saturday’s Super Pro quarterfinals. Along the way, he pocketed some prize money and earned the top spot in the points standings in both those classes, with two weekends of racing left in the season.

Brian Johnson

Brian Johnson

Mike Campbell

Mike Campbell

“It was a fun weekend,” Johnson said. “Everything ran pretty good, and I had a couple lucky rounds here and there, but that’s what it takes sometimes.”

Johnson’s dragster was flying down the track, with 7.6-second passes at 170 mph. After losing in Saturday’s quarterfinals, Johnson rebounded in the Quick 16 class, where the eight quickest dragsters and the eight quickest cars have separate run-offs, with the quickest dragster and quickest car paired up in the finals. Johnson’s dragster couldn’t be beat, even after lining up in the finals across from Vern Laurin. Johnson won with a time of 7.683 seconds at 169.21 mph.

The Super Pro class, which is typically the fastest class in the series after the Quick 16, featured 85 racers last weekend, including Brad Baklund and his 1963 Corvette, who raced his way to Sunday’s finals for a chance to go head to head with Johnson. Baklund was a hair quicker off the starting line but Johnson took the win with a time of 7.658 seconds and 169.53 mph. Johnson then raced the Pro ET winner, Mel Knott, in the Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout, where Johnson laid down a time of 7.634 seconds and 164.99 mph for the win and a check for $2,000.

The Bracket Drag Racing Series is heating up, with only two weekends remaining. Series points are at a premium as racers are gunning for series championships. Last weekend, 330 drag racers competed. Meanwhile, Superbikes were on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course. On Saturday, the Zalusky Advanced Riding School was on the track, followed by Road Closed Promotion’s Track Day for bikes on Sunday.

Mel Knott

Mel Knott

Mike Voss

Mike Voss

The bracket series features 11 racing classes, all of which are tight at the top of the point standings. The only class that looked like it might be a blow-out was in Stock/Super Stock, where Brad Haugaard had almost twice as many points as the racer in second place. But he never won a round last weekend, opening the door for Ben Line to significantly close the gap with a win on Sunday. He beat Glen DeMenge to take over second place, and is now within striking distance of Haugaard.

The top five spots in the Pro ET standings tightened up as Mel Knott and Andy Schmall won last weekend. Schmall beat Steve Roehrs on Saturday with a run of 10.610 seconds and 118.52 mph. Knott beat Bob Ingman in Sunday’s finals with a time of 9.754 seconds at 134.73 mph.

Brandon Schmall and Rory Emmans contributed to a close points race at the top of the Sportsman standings, as they won Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Schmall beat KC Brager in Saturday’s final with a final pass of 13.205 seconds and 66.57 mph, while Emmans snuck by Troy Luberda in Sunday’s finals by posting a 12.188-second, 102.53-mph run.

Stage_WBrad Harder took over first place in the Pro Bike/Sled standings with a runner-up finish on Sunday. Harder lost to Mike Voss in the finals when Voss run 10.198 seconds and 117.80 mph. Kayla Lundberg beat Jeremy Berg in Saturday’s finals with a time of 9.185 seconds at 140.21 mph.

The next Bracket Drag Racing Series weekend is July 30-31. Saturday’s race also features the King of the Track race for the top racers in Super Pro, Pro ET, Sportsman, Stock/Super Stock, Pro Bike/Sled, Comp Trophy and Street Trophy. The last drag racer standing is crowned King of the Track.

The road course will be busy as well. The ChumpCar World Series will be at BIR for a pair of seven-hour endurance races that start at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Below are the results from each finals last weekend.


Super Pro
Finals: Mike Campbell of Roseville def. Willie Grey of Ladysmith, Wis.

Pro ET
Finals: Andy Schmall of Idaho Falls, Idaho def. Steve Roehrs of Frederic, Wis.

Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout
Mike Campbell def. Andy Schmall

Finals: Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes def. KC Brager of Pillager

Stock/Super Stock
Finals: Doug Jonak of Zimmerman def. Jared Hutar of Cromwell

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Kayla Lundberg of Isanti def. Jeremy Berg of Newport

Comp Trophy
Finals: Bob Kuntz of Thompson, N.D. def. Eric Blumke of Pillager

Street Trophy
Finals: Luke Schneider of St. Joseph def. Keith Larson of Brainerd

Quick 16
Finals: Brian Johnson of Nowthen def. Vern Laurin of Duluth

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Chandler Niemeyer of Brainerd def. Jazper Wiebusch of Ham Lake

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Riley Luberda of Foley def. Connor Antony of Lonsdale

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Stella Pastee of Oronoco def. Davis Godwin of Pengilly



Super Pro
Finals: Brian Johnson of Nowthen def. Brad Baklund of Rogers

Pro ET
Finals: Mel Knott of Prior Lake def. Robert Ingman of Andover

Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout
Brian Johnson def. Mel Knott

Finals: Rory Emmans of Nowthen def. Troy Luberda of Foley

Stock/Super Stock
Finals: Ben Line of International Falls def. Glen De Menge of McGregor

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Mike Voss of Maplewood def. Brad Harder of Waconia

Comp Trophy
Finals: Chris Henry of Sauk Rapids def. Greg Dancer of Foley

Street Trophy
Finals: Mike Simons of Pinc City def. Keith Larson

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Zachary Zavadil of Clearwater def. Chandler Niemeyer of Brainerd

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Samantha Cielinski of Gilman def. Dylan Dancer of Foley

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Brody Thompson of Nowthen def. Wyatt Knott of Otsego



Second half of Bracket Drag Racing Series starts

With half the season in the rear view mirror, drivers in the Bracket Drag Racing Series are gearing up for the second half, starting this weekend at Brainerd International Raceway.

While drag racers are slugging it out on the quarter-mile track, BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course will be busy with two different bike events. The Zalusky Advanced Riding School will be on the track Saturday, while Road Closed Promotions will host an open Track Day for bikes on Sunday. The track will be open to spectators all weekend.

The gates open Thursday at 5 p.m. Friday is a Test & Tune Day on the drag strip from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Both tracks will have activity starting at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Back on the drag strip, this weekend is the fourth of six racing weekends for the Bracket Drag Racing Series. Fans can expect to see more than 250 dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters, who are battling for series points and prize money in 10 different classes. Each weekend, racers have two changes to win since the format involves elimination rounds both Saturday and Sunday, with winners crowned each day in each class.

Bryce Miller is one of the drag racers to watch this weekend. He’s one of the hottest racers in the series right now, having lost only one race during the last series race weekend. He won the Pro ET Class on Saturday and then beat the Super Pro Class winner in the Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout, which earned him $2,000 in prize money. Along the way, he earned a spot in the Quick 16 race, which includes the eight quickest cars and the eight quickest dragsters. He won that race as well.

Miller’s weekend launched him into first place in the Pro ET point standings, although Wally Higby isn’t far behind. The standings in all the racing classes are tight, expect for Stock/Super Stock Class, where Brad Haugaard is doubling up on the field.

Daily admission is $25, and kids 12 and under are free. And parking is free.



Fuchs, Orr among repeat winners in Muscle Car Series

Heading into last weekend’s Muscle Car Series drag race, drivers in the Outlaw Class were all well aware of how fast Bubba Romanzshyn’s car is. He was the top qualifier during the series’ first race this season, with the fastest time (6.895 seconds) and the top speed (212.69 mph), which was quicker than any other car in the field. And even though he failed to advance past the first round, all the other drivers knew that they had their work cut out for them when Bubba was at the track.

Fast forward to last Sunday’s elimination rounds during the 30th Annual PleasureLand Show & Go. Bubba was nearly a full second faster than the rest of the field. He qualified No. 1 again with a sizzling time of 6.780 seconds and 218.80 mph, which is within a half second of the fastest cars in the Pro Outlaw class.

Bubba Romanzshyn

Bubba Romanzshyn

Dennis Orr

Dennis Orr

He won his way to the finals where he faced off against Greg Schmidt, who won the Outlaw Class during last year’s Show & Go and was itching to repeat this year. But Bubba was too much for Schmidt, who ran 7.927 seconds and 169.25 mph. Bubba ran 7.133 seconds and 214.31 mph for the win.

“We had a few issues (with the car) last weekend but the car’s not broken so that’s a bonus (to winning the class),” he said.

Bubba admitted that his reaction times weren’t very good Sunday, as they hovered around .150 seconds, but he knew that his car was fast enough to catch all the other cars if they beat him off the starting line, which was the case during all his elimination runs Sunday.

The Show & Go’s Muscle Car Series was three days of big horsepower and very fast cars on the drag strip by 400 drivers that competed. The event also featured the National Auto Sport Association on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course for two days of road racing, followed by the event finale, which was a pair of 100-mile Trans Am Series races on the road course as part of the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic. For more details of those races, click here.

With only one race left in the three-race Muscle Car Series, the leaders in four of the seven Heads-Up Classes are gunning for a clean sweep and series championships.

Ray Fuchs, Dennis Orr, Robert Wilczek and Brian Carpenter all won their respective classes last weekend and will race for the sweep Labor Day weekend during the 28th Annual GSTA Muscle Car Shootout.

Robert Wilczek

Robert Wilczek

Brian Carpenter

Brian Carpenter

Fuchs and his 1953 Studebaker is on his way to dethroning Rich Schmidt, who has won the Pro Outlaw series championship the last two years. Fuchs was the No. 1 qualifier this weekend with the fastest numbers of any car on the track: 6.390 seconds and 220.76 mph. There was room for improvement with his reaction times, but his car was able to catch the opposition by the end of the quarter mile. He faced off with Matthew Braun in the finals and made a 6.536-second, 217.74-mph pass, even through Braun broke on the run.

Orr was another repeat winner and has his sights set on stealing the Real Street Unlimited series title away from defending champ Duane Godbout. Orr was the top qualifier last weekend with the top speed of 178.76 mph in his 1970 Camaro. He met up with Godbout in the finals. Godbout, who had the best time in qualifying at 7.386 seconds, had trouble getting off the starting line and Orr motored his way to victory with a time of 8.480 seconds and 174.55 mph, while Godbout clocked a 9.004-second, 162.82-mph run.

Real Street Natural was dominated by Robert Wilczek and his ’69 Mustang. As the No. 1 qualifier last weekend, Wilczek saved his fastest time and speed for the finals against Bob Wallin. The two were off the starting line at nearly the same time but Wilczek nipped Wallin at the finish line with a time of 9.115 seconds and 149.22 mph. Wallin ran 9.618 seconds and 138.81 mph.

Brian Carpenter and his 2003 Mustang is looking for a sweep in the 660 Outlaw Street class, which only competes over an eighth-mile track. In the finals, No. 1 qualifier Carpenter lined up across from defending champion David Senderhauf, who was clocking numbers similar to Carpenter’s. Senderhauf was off the starting line first but couldn’t hold off Carpenter, who caught him at the finish line with a run of 4.685 seconds and 166.68 mph, versus Senderhauf’s 4.783 seconds and 147.70 mph.

In King Street, Chris Orr avenged his finals loss during the Street Car Showdown but winning the class Sunday. Jason Geiger was the No. 1 qualifier but was knocked out in the second round of eliminations. That opened the door for Orr, who faced off against Coy Christmas in the finals. But Christmas was no match for Orr and his ’67 Firebird, which ran 7.882 seconds and 177.95 mph. Christmas posted a 9.244-second, 154.67-mph run.

Below are the finals of each class during the Show & Go.

Pro Outlaw
Finals: Ray Fuchs of Bowman, N.D. def. Matthew Braun of Dennison

Finals: Bubba Romanzshyn of Belfield, N.D. def. Greg Schmidt of Baxter

King Street
Finals: Chris Orr of Superior, Wis. def. Coy Christmas of Superior, Wis.

Real Street Unlimited
Finals: Dennis Orr of Superior, Wis. def. Duane Godbout of Cloquet

Real Street Natural
Finals: Robert Wilczek of Little Falls def. Bob Wallin of Superior, Wis.

True Street
Finals: Dan Gefre of Coon Rapids def. Wayne Bellanger of St. Louis Park

660 Outlaw Street
Finals: Brian Carpenter of Forest Lake def. David Senderhauf of Zimmerman

Strip Eliminator 1
Finals: Scott Heilscher of Otsego def. Kevin Sand of Cambridge

Strip Eliminator 2
Finals: Jeremy Richter of St. Joseph def. Kevin Hemenway of Park Rapids

Strip Eliminator 3
Finals: Cameron Novak of Rice def. Scott Davich of Pequot Lakes

Truck Eliminator
Finals: Lane Zuidema of Woodbury def. Bob Peterson of Roseville

Manual Transmission
Finals: Keith Sand of Cambridge def. Mike Hed of Mehnaga

Index Class Champion
Finals: Jesse Haugesag of Prior Lake def. Greg Marninga of Mehnaga

9.50 Index
Finals: Pat Huebner of Bloomington def. Gerald Cook of Mora

10.00 Index
Finals: Greg Marninga of Mehnaga def. Kevin Sand of Cambridge

10.50 Index
Finals: Mike Hammerstrom of Bemidji def. Bruce Morley of Brainerd

11.00 Index
Finals: Jesse Haugesag of Prior Lake def. Jason Hartkopf of Eden Valley

11.50 Index
Finals: Jesse Covington of Fifty Lakes def. David Imgrund of Brainerd

12.00 Index
Finals: Jeff Purdham of Albertville def. Colleen Dircks of Carver

12.50 Index
Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. Jake Stanley of Zimmerman

13.00 Index
Finals: Jesse Backstrom of Grand Marais def. Justin Nelson of Norwood-Young America

13.50 Index
Finals: David Hyttsten of Monticello def. Nick Siebenaler of Pine City

14.00 Index
Finals: Ryan Baker of Isanti def. Kris Leonard of Robbinsdale



Fix, Robinson take Trans Am wins; Archer is second

Gar Robinson and Paul Fix celebrated the Fourth of July weekend in style with Trans Am victories at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR). Steve Streimer and Ernie Francis Jr., were also victorious with wins in TA3 and TA4 classes.

BIR’s 30th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go last weekend featured two 100-mile Trans Am races, which were the event finale on Sunday. The Show & Go also showcased the second leg of the three-race Muscle Car Series on the drag strip and the National Auto Sport Association, which was also no the road course Saturday and Sunday. A classic car show, fireworks and live music rounded out the weekend.

For Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, the Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge  for the TA2 class saw him start fourth and make his way up to the front of the field over the first 15 laps, while fending off challenges from Justin Haley, Lawrence Loshak and Duluth’s Tommy Archer.  The second half of the race saw the top eight cars nose-to-tail for the vast majority of the time. Robinson would hold the lead until the 35th lap when the course went under yellow for a multi-car incident.

“I’ve had some better races but this is up there,” said Robinson. “While you would always like to finish under green, I’m not sure how much the car would have had left—a lot of this came down to tire management, the front were going away on us so I ended up having to boil the rears off. Still, there was some great racing today, and I’m happy to have a clean race with Lawrence (Loshak) today. We didn’t have an inch between the two of us; I saw our mirrors cover up each other. Also, huge congratulations to Tommy (Archer) on his second place finish. We’re rooting for him in his cancer battle, and we’re really happy he’s back racing with us.”

For Robinson, the defending TA2 champion, the victory is his second of the year and pushes him into first position in the championship points standings as the season approaches the halfway mark. Robinson was joined on the podium by Archer, driver of the No. 54 ECC/ Chevrolet Camaro, and Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, who finished second and third, respectively. In last year’s race, Machavern took first, with Archer second and Robinson third.

The TA2 top five was completed by Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 5 Pennzoil Platinum/ MOMO/ ETE Reman Chevrolet Camaro, and Tony Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively.  The top 10 also featured Shane Lewis, Adam Andretti, Keith Prociuk, Cole Carlson and John Atwell, in that finishing order.

Fix, behind the wheel of the No. 50 Techron Chevrolet Corvette, started the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic’s multi-class race in sixth position and quickly surged through the field claiming second position after only two laps of green racing— settling into a race-long pursuit of pole sitter Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/McMahon Group Ford Mustang, that lasted until the final lap. With barely a minute remaining in the race, the No. 36 of Ebben, who then had a second gap on Fix, began to smoke and slow, leaving Fix to make the pivotal pass in Turn 4 on the final lap en route to the checkered flag.

“Cliff had a fast car, and he knows this track,” said Fix. “Brainerd can punish you, the idea is not to make any mistakes — you have to stay in the line. If you go off line, it’s dirty and it will cause you to lose traction and either over steer or under steer. You have to stay consistent and make absolutely no mistakes. I just had to wait and find the gap and find the time to capitalize — whatever that was, whether it was traffic or a mistake or mechanical. I waited, waited and waited, just biding my time and made the pass when it counted on the last lap.”

The victory stands as Fix’s second in as many races, helping bolster his championship pursuits as he moves within eight points of second position and 35 of first with Round 6 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on the horizon.

“Things are starting to look really good for us,” said Fix. “I can’t wait for Mid-Ohio; it is absolutely one of my favorite tracks and it’s close to home. Hopefully, we can pull off the repeat!”

Fix was joined on the podium by Ebben, who was able to maintain second position until the checkered flag, and David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Chevrolet Corvette, who finished second and third, respectively. The podiums marked the second of the year for both, with Ebben now holding second in the points with 110 and Pintaric in third with 107.

The TA class top five was completed by Jim McAleese, in the No. 03 McAleese & Associates Chevrolet Corvette, and Simon Gregg, in the No. 59 Derhaag Motorsports Chevrolet Corvette, finishing fourth and fifth. The top 10 saw Kerry Hitt, Claudio Burtin, Tim Rubright, Amy Ruman and Mickey Wright, all feature in that finishing order.

Ruman maintains the championship points lead with 137 to her name despite a ninth place finish, the result of a pit stop after having lost power steering due to an impact from another car on the first lap.

TA3 was highlighted by a race-long battle between eventual victor Steve Streimer, in the No. 42 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, and Keith Anderson, in the No. 81 Archer Racing Dodge Viper ACRX, that saw the two swap the lead on five separate occasions.  Ultimately, the race came down to the very end with Anderson unable to complete a last gasp pass on the outside, allowing Streimer to power ahead and pass the checkered flag.

“Today was an absolutely great race,” said Streimer. “I had never met Keith before this weekend, and he just can really drive this track. We had a great battle, back and forth the whole time. We kept our distance and gave each other respect in the turns, and all the passes were clean. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Anderson secured second place while Streimer’s teammate Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, captured third to complete the podium.

In TA3, Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 Beta Tools/Liquid Performance, was left with an easy task after Trevor Janke, in the No. 31 Janke Auto Chevrolet Camaro, collided with the wall outside Turn 1 on the first lap of the race causing a full-course caution and ensuing red flag. After managing the car throughout the middle of the race, Francis, a two-time defending class champion, coasted past the checkered flag securing yet another win in what is looking more and more like another championship season.

“Honestly, this weekend for us was fairly relaxing; we were really just here for the championship points,” Francis said. “None of the other championship contenders showed up; it just so happened that the other car we were competing against wrecked out after the first couple of laps so we ended up inheriting the race win and decided to just bring the car in and save it for the next races. I was fortunate enough to test a TA car this weekend and that might be something we’re thinking about for 2017, and I may try to hop in a car in the next couple of races and see how we do.”

The Burtin Racing team was awarded the Crew of the Race for their efforts in getting the No. 7 GoShare Chevrolet Corvette repaired after a practice incident—eventually finishing seventh.

Robinson was awarded the Cool Shirt Systems Cool Move of the Race for retaking after a battle with Justin Haley midway through the TA2 race.

The two races will be televised on CBS Sports Network later this month. The Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, featuring TA/TA3/TA4 will be broadcast at 11 a.m. July 23. The Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge, featuring TA2, will be broadcast at noon July 31.


Buffomante, Ebben take pole positions for Trans Am race

Tony Buffomante and Cliff Ebben secured pole positions in Fast Five Qualifying for Sunday’s two 100-mile Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic Trans Am races, Round 5 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship. Keith Anderson and Ernie Francis, Jr., also had successful qualifying sessions, grabbing poles for the TA3 and TA4 classes at Brainerd International Raceway (BIR).

The two Trans Am Series races are the grand finale of the 30th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go, July 1-3. The event also includes the National Auto Sport Association on the road course and the second leg of the Muscle Car Series on the drag strip.

Buffomante, in the No. 34 Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang, captured his third pole of the season with a 1:31.192 lap — a new track record for TA2 — around the 2.5-mile Competition Road Course at BIR. Buffomante, who is hot off a victory at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Round 4, is currently tied atop the points standings with defending champion Gar Robinson and leads all TA2 competitors in wins with two so far this season.

The pole puts Buffomante in prime position to capture his third victory, and fourth podium, as his continues his pursuit of a TA2 championship. The pole position will see Buffomante lead the TA2 field to green in their independent TA2 100-mile race Sunday at 1 p.m.

Lawrence Loshak, in the No. 5 Pennzoil Platinum/MOMO/ETE Reman Chevrolet Camaro, qualified second, securing a front row sweep for the Mike Cope team with a 1:31.307 lap. Minnesota native Tommy Archer, in the No. 54 ECC/ Chevrolet Camaro, will start in third position with a 1:31.466 lap, a strong position to challenge for the home track victory he narrowly missed in 2015.

Defending champion Robinson, in the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, will start fourth after turning a 1:31.678 lap; while last year’s BIR victor Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, secured the final Fast Five position with a time of 1:31.750, completing the tight TA2 session.

Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group/ Lamers Ford Mustang, will start on pole for the TA, TA3 and TA4 multi-class race that starts at 3:10 p.m. Sunday. Ebben captured the pole with a 1:28.272 lap, securing his third consecutive pole in the TA class. Now, Ebben will attempt to convert his qualifying speed into his first victory of the year.

Starting alongside Ebben will be the ever-present No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette of Amy Ruman, defending TA champion and current points leader. Ruman leads all TA competitors with two victories this year and will look to add to that tally with a second consecutive victory at BIR.

Third place was secured by David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Chevrolet Corvette, with a 1:29.075; while the remainder of the TA class Fast Five was completed by Vincent Allegretta, in the No. 41 TA Sights and Sounds Chevrolet Corvette, and Jim McAleese, in the No. 03 McAleese and Associates Chevrolet Corvette, with times of 1:29.821 and 1:30.642, respectively.

TA3 was led by Keith Anderson, making his first appearance in the Series from behind the wheel of the No. 81 Archer Racing Dodge Viper ACRX, securing a pole for the production based class with a 1:34.107 lap — a new track record. He was followed in the session by Steve Streimer, in the No. 43 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, and Cindi Lux, in the No. 45 Lux Performance Dodge Viper ACRX, with times of 1:34.518 and 1:35.157, respectively.

In TA4, two-time defending champion Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 BetaTools/Liquid Performance, led the way for the TA4 class with a time of 1:36.175, beating out Trevor Janke, in the No. 31 Janke Auto/ Pender Racing Chevrolet Camaro, for the top spot. The pole is Francis’ third of the year as he prepares to purse his second consecutive win at BIR as well as his third consecutive championship.

Drivers will be given the opportunity to re-qualify later today at 5:45 p.m. to try and improve their starting positions; however, drivers in the “Fast Five” for each starting group have their starting positions locked.

Both races for in the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic will be televised on CBS Sports Network. The first race, featuring TA2 only, will be televised starting at noon on July 31. The second race, featuring TA, TA3 and TA4 will broadcast at 11 a.m. July 23.

Who to watch during Sunday’s pair of Trans Am Series races

As the Trans Am Series approaches the season midpoint, competitors make their way north to Brainerd International Raceway (BIR), Round 5 of the 2016 Trans Am Championship, for the Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, July 2-3.

The weekend will feature two 100-mile Trans Am races around the 2.5-mile Competition Road Course, with the TA2, powered by AEM, class holding an independent race and the TA, TA3 and TA4 classes holding an additional multi-class race. The annual northern pilgrimage to one of Trans Am’s historic homes marks the series’ 25th appearance on the Brainerd track.

The track, which Trans Am first visited in 1969, is known throughout the paddock as a “survivor’s course” due to its susceptibility to sandy and slick conditions, creating a pivotal stop on the Trans Am tour for all classes and championship hopefuls.

The stand-alone TA2 race marks the first of its kind at BIR and comes at a time when the 2016 TA2 Championship race has finally begun to take some semblance of shape. In attendance will be the current joint points leaders, Gar Robinson, defending TA2 Champion and driver of the No. 74 Pura Vida Tequila/ 74 Ranch Resort Chevrolet Camaro, and Tony Buffomante, driver of the No. 34 Mike Cope Racing Ford Mustang, tied atop the charts with 102 apiece.

While Robinson will be aiming to at least replicate his third place finish last year at BIR, Buffomante will prefer a more radical change from his 13th in 2015. They will be joined as initial favorites to finish up front by Trans Am veteran and Minnesota’s own Tommy Archer, in the No. 54 ECC/ Chevrolet Camaro, and last year’s race winner Dillon Machavern, in the No. 24 Heritage Motorsports Ford Mustang, who currently sits third in the points as well.

Included in the Minnesota contingent are drivers Jordan Bernloehr of Lakeville, in the No. 07 BCR/MillersOil/ProKart/AirJax Chevrolet Camaro, Tim Gray of Eden Prairie, in the No. 60 Ryan Companies US Inc Ford Mustang, and Cole Carlson also of Eden Prairie, in the No. 12 Stevens Miller Racing Dodge Challenger, who is making his first appearance in the Trans Am Series.

Additional drivers in the talent-packed TA2 class include Adam Andretti, John Atwell, Justin Haley, Shane Lewis, Lawrence Loshak, Chris Lucas, Louis-Philippe Montour, Keith Prociuk and Tom Sheehan.

The TA class competition will once more be headlined by defending TA Champion Amy Ruman, in the No. 23 McNichols Company Chevrolet Corvette, who currently stands atop the class points with 118 to her name. Ruman will face a cast of familiar challengers including Round 4 victor Paul Fix, in the No. 50 / Chevrolet Corvette, and last year’s TA class runner-up at BIR, Cliff Ebben, in the No. 36 Stumpf Ford/ McMahon Group/ Lamers Ford Mustang.

Ruman has landed on the podium in four of the past five Trans Am races at BIR with two victories in those appearances, a win in 2012 race two of a double-header and last year in 2015.

Ruman’s primary challengers in the championship point standings, David Pintaric, in the No. 57 Kryderacing Chevrolet Corvette, and Kerry Hitt, in the No. 19 Advanced Composite Products Cadillac CTS-V, will need a different outcome on the weekend if they’re to start working away at Ruman’s current 30-plus point advantage on second and third place in the championship hunt.

For the second straight year, BIR track owner Jed Copham, in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette, will be competing in the TA class, joining the likes of Vincent Allegretta, Claudio Burtin, Simon Gregg, Jim McAleese, Tim Rubright and Mickey Wright.

Trans Am’s production racing contingent will also be in attendance in the form of the TA3 and TA4 classes, with the Lux Performance Group Duo of Cindi Lux and Steve Streimer, in the No. 45 and 42 Lux Performance Group Dodge Viper ACRXs, once again joining the TA3 class at BIR.  Last year Lux and Streimer finished 1-2 atop the podium.

Joining them in the pursuit of the TA3 silverware this coming weekend will be Keith Anderson, of Rochester, Minnesota, in the No. 81 Archer Racing Dodge Viper ACRX, and Mel Shaw, in the No. 22 Bay Commercial Group/BETA Chevrolet Corvette.

TA4 will feature two-time defending Champion Ernie Francis, Jr., in the No. 98 BetaTools/Liquid Performance Ford Mustang, and Trans Am newcomer Trevor Janke, in the No. 31 Janke Auto/ Pender Racing Dev Chevrolet Camaro.

How to Watch on CBS Sports Network:

The Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, featuring TA/TA3/TA4 will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network July 23 11 a.m.

The Ryan Companies Muscle Car Challenge, featuring TA2, will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network July 31 at noon.

Event Schedule:

Saturday, July 2, 2016
10:30 AM – 10:50 AM – TA2 Practice 1
10:55 AM – 11:15 AM – TA/TA3/TA4 Practice 1
1:00 PM –  1:20 PM – TA2 “Fast Five” Qualifying
1:20 PM –  1:40 PM – TA “Fast Five” Qualifying
1:40 PM – 2:00 PM –     TA3/TA4 “Fast Five Qualfying
5:00 PM –  5:20 PM – TA2 Practice 2
5:20 PM – 5:30 PM – TA/TA3/TA4 Practice 2
5:45 PM – 6:00 PM – 2nd Chance to Qualify

Sunday, July 3, 2016
1:00 PM – 2:15 PM – Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic Muscle Car Challenge featuring TA2, powered by AEM
3:10 PM –4:25 PM – Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic TA/TA3/TA4 Race

Watch drag racing from the best seats in the house

Here’s your chance to watch this weekend’s Muscle Car Series drag racing from the best seats in the house – the Tower Suites.

At the affordable rate of only $100 a day (plus tax), you can rent a suite to enjoy the 30th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go in style! Rent one for a single day or for the weekend. Tower Suites overlook the drag strip’s starting line and are great for entertaining.

The suites have air conditioning, overstuffed couches, refrigerators, tables and chairs, and cable TV. They accommodate 20 people comfortably.

For more information, contact the Ticket Office at 866-439-6411 or at the front gate when you arrive.













KQDS to broadcast its morning show from BIR this Friday

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 BIR’s Tower Suites overlooking the drag strip starting line.

KQDS logoThe show stars Jason Manning and Scott Savage, who will be talking about this weekend’s 30th 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 Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic. He’ll be on air with Adam Andretti, who races in the same class as Archer. Andretti is the nephew of the legendary racer Mario Andretti. Drag racers competing in the Muscle Car Series this weekend will be interviewed as well.

The morning show 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.

Show & Go gets double dose of Trans Am Series

The 30th Annual PleasureLand RV Show & Go, July 1-3, just got even bigger and better.

The event finale was scheduled to be the Trans Am Series’ Ryan Companies Independence Day Classic, a 40-lap, 100-mile race on Brainerd International Raceway’s (BIR) 2.5-mile Competition Road Course Sunday afternoon. But the series added a second race for the TA2 class two hours earlier. Same format – 40 laps, 100 miles. Both races will be televised in late July on CBS Sports Network.

TransAmThe Trans Am Series has a colorful past at BIR that dates back to the 1970s and ’80s, when thousands of fans would camp along BIR’s road course to watch some of the household names in motorsports compete. Now, three decades later, it’s still attracting familiar names, like Andretti and Archer, for example. Adam Andretti is Mario Andretti’s nephew and is one of the top drivers in the TA2 Class. Tommy Archer is from the famed Archer Brothers Racing team in Duluth. The Archers have raced – and won – in nearly every circuit and all have impressive resumes. Tommy Archer is 58 and had a bout with cancer but is scheduled to race again this year. He finished second last year in a three-car dogfight at the end of the race.

The Trans Am Series will be the featured race, but there will be plenty of other intense racing action throughout the three-day event, starting with the Muscle Car Series on the drag strip. Friday and Saturday are time trials and qualifying, followed by elimination rounds on Sunday.

BIRSCSD16-0242The Muscle Car Series is a chance for fans to see some huge horsepower and speeds over 220 mph by the fastest classes. The seven heads-up classes provide the most entertainment, as cars start at the same time. The Pro Outlaw and Outlaw classes are fan favorites because of the high speeds and times that are 6-7 seconds.

The Show & Go is the second leg of the three-race Muscle Car Series. The first race was the Street Car Showdown on Memorial Day Weekend. Ray Fuchs knocked off Rick Schmidt, the two-time series champ in Pro Outlaw by qualifying No. 1 with a speed of 218.48 mph and a time of 6.488 seconds. Meanwhile, Warren Peterson won the Outlaw Class Memorial Day weekend after taking the series title last year. He’ll be gunning for his second straight win and a possible repeat title.

The action on the road course also includes the National Auto Sport Association, which will be providing the action Saturday and Sunday.

“The Trans Am part of Show & Go just keeps growing and getting better,” BIR Owner Jed Copham said. “The racing is amazing and the car counts keep growing, which is a great sign for the series. Fans are in for a real treat this year with the two 100-mile races, plus drag racing, live music, fireworks and everything else we have going on. It’s a great place to be for the Fourth of July weekend.”

Off the track, fans have plenty to do and see as well. On Saturday, a classic car show will be on the infield behind the grandstand. A fireworks display on Saturday night will be followed by live music by Junk FM.

Daily admission is $25, and kids 12 and under are free. One ticket gets you in BIR to see all the races. Camping is free with a multi-day ticket, and parking is free as well.

The televised schedule for the Trans Am Series’ TA race is 11 a.m. July 23. The TA2 race will be televised starting at noon July 31.

 Trans Am photo courtesy of Rick Corwine

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