NHRA Divisional drag racers put on a show during Thunder

Doug Engels qualified No. 1 in Comp Eliminator and out-ran the competition straight to the winners circle during last weekend’s NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series at Brainerd International Raceway.

Paul Pittman won Top Sportsman
Paul Pittman won Top Sportsman

Engels faced off with No. 3 qualifier Clint Sallee in the finals and had the power to hold him off with a 7.201-second lap at 185.05 mph to Sallee’s quicker 6.797, 203.49. Both drivers are former West Central division champions.

J.R. Lobner was out first on Brad Basgall in the Fineline Graphics/Madcap Racing Top Dragster class with a .008-second reaction time and cruised to a 6.963-second win as Basgall had car problems from the start.

In the Jerry Haas Race Cars Top Sportsman class, Paul Pittman took the win over Tom Schmidt, who was out first but ran too quick by .013 seconds. Pittman went 6.656 seconds on the 6.64 dial at 212.23 mph in his ’13 Camaro for the win.

Abe Loewen and Tyler Wudarczky captured wins in Super Stock and Stock, respectively.  Loewen took the holeshot on Mark Jenkins in the finals and ran 9.526 seconds on the 9.52 dial to down Jenkins. Wudarczyk drove his ’69 Nova past Ben Line, covering the quarter mile in 11.472 seconds at just over 100 mph.

Your 2015 winners.
Your 2015 winners.

Three Minnesota racers won in the super index classes as Jordan Pratt downed Austin Sharpe in Super Comp, Mark McMasters ousted Chuck Rose in Super Gas and Tony Leonard knocked off Jeff Landholm in Super Street. Pratt and Sharpe were close off the line but Pratt was better at the stripe in a double break-out, 8.894 seconds to 8.855. McMasters was better at both ends of the tracks, running 9.899 seconds, just .001 off the index, and Leonard had a tenth of a second lead at the start with a near perfect 10.901-second pass to hold off Jeff Landholm.

In Sportsman Motorcycle presented by Harley-Davidson, Cameron Belisle beat Jason Clampitt, who was out first but Belisle had the power to run him down, posting a 9.335-second pass on his ’90 Kawasaki at 132.06 mph.

In the Super Shootouts, Chris Bishop beat Jeremy Lehrke in Super Comp; John Gosh ended Russ Ginger’s day in Super Gas; and Laurie Pederson-Duffield won over Amy Jo Luberda in Super Street.

Adman Kritzky and Candace Jurgens took the honors in the NHRA Summit Jr. Drag Racing League. Kritzky held off local racer Chandler Niemeyer in the 8-12 year old class and Jurgens beat Meagen Neil in the 13-17 year old division.

West Central Division racers head to Bandimere Speedway for the next NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series event, June 19-21.

The following are Sunday’s final results from the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, West Central Division Thunder at the Lakes:

Doug Engels, Watertown, S.D., dragster, D/D, 7.201, 185.05 def. Clint Sallee, Glendive, Mont., dragster, B/D, 6.797, 203.49.

Abe Loewen, Regina, Sask., ’98 Grand Am, SS/DM, 9.526, 134.82  def. Mark Jenkins, Wymore, Neb., ’02 Cavalier, GT/D, 9.761, 133.49.

Tyler Wudarczyk, Wakarusa, Kan., ’69 Nova, G/SA, 11.472, 106.47 def. Ben Line, International Falls, Minn., ’69 Mustang, C/SA, 10.801, 122.62.

Jordan Pratt, Otsego, Minn., dragster, 8.894, 168.64 def. Austin Sharpe, Omaha, Neb., dragster, 8.855, 174.35.

Mark McMasters, Owatonna, Minn., ’57 Corvette, 9.899, 161.38 def. Chuck Rose, S. Sioux City, Neb., ’71 Challenger, 9.893, 150.97.

Tony Leonard, Hastings, Minn., ’70 Nova, 10.901, 119.93 def. Jeff Landholm, Oakland, Neb., ’68 Camaro, 10.926, 142.97.

J.R. Lobner, Gardner, Kan., dragster, 6.963, 161.69 def. Brad Basgall, Hays, Kan., dragster, 40.424, 37.37.

Paul Pittman, Bloomington, Minn., ’13 Camaro, 6.656, 212.23 def. Tom Schmidt, Lindstrom, Minn., ’09 GXP, 6.927, 200.62.

Cameron Belisle, Hugo, Minn., ’90 Kawasaki, 9.335, 132.06 def. Jason Clampitt, Lino Lakes, Minn., ’79 Kawasaki, 9.931, 129.39.


400+ cars compete in second Bracket Drag Racing weekend

Gary Loeffelholz didn’t waste any time making his presence known last weekend during Brainerd International Raceway’s Bracket Drag Racing Series.

Loeffelholz is the defending champion in the Super Pro Class and joined 400 other drivers for the series’ second race weekend of the season. By Sunday night, he had a runner-up finish and pocketed $1,200 for winning the new Quick 16 Shoot.

Clayton Mattson won Sunday's Stock/Super Stock Class

Clayton Mattson won Sunday’s Stock/Super Stock Class

Loeffelholz had his 2004 Mustang dialed in, posting times of 7.3 seconds and speeds of 180 mph, which made him one of the fastest cars at the track. “I was extremely happy (with the car),” he said. “It was deadly.”

On Saturday, Loeffelholz won his way to the fifth round of eliminations where he lost to Tom Carlson, who went on beat Ronnie Luberda in the Super Pro finals. Loeffelholz chalked up his loss to a driving error at the starting line.

There were no mistakes Saturday during the Quick 16 Shoot, though. The Quick 16 features the eight fastest door cars against the eight fastest dragsters. Loeffelholz won the first three rounds and then lined up across from Jordan Pratt and his Spitzer dragster in the finals. Loeffelholz was 7/1,000ths of a second quicker off the starting line and held off Pratt to win by 5/1,000ths of a second. His winning time was 7.298 seconds and 185.54 mph.

Loeffelholz carried that momentum through Sunday’s race where he outlasted 102 other drivers in the Super Pro class for a runner-up finish, losing to Mike Anderson and his 1965 Nova in the finals. Anderson ran 9.334 seconds and 140.49 mph.

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson

Chuck Roycraft

Chuck Roycraft

Anderson went on to win Sunday’s Super Pro/Pro Shootout to pocket $2,000 in prize money. The Shootout pits the Super Pro Class winner against the Pro ET Class winner, with a $3,000 cash purse on the line. Chuck Roycraft beat out 81 other drivers to win the Pro ET Class, but he couldn’t keep up to Anderson in the Shootout.

The next Bracket Drag Racing Series is June 12-14 and will feature the NHRA Summit Racing Junior Drag Racing League Challenge, which will be Saturday. It’s a chance for kids who compete in the three Junior Dragster classes to win a Wally trophy.

In addition to bracket drag racing, that weekend will include International Watercross Association (IWA) racing on Lake BIR. IWA racing features snowmobiles racing on open water in drag racing and around an oval course Crowd_Wmarked by floating markers.

BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course will be busy as well, with a dual event featuring Superbike racing courtesy of the Central Roadracing Association (CRA) and the Championship Cup Series (CCS) from Texas. The CRA typically has five weekends on the schedule at BIR and invited the CCS for a joint event.

Below are results from the weekend.


Super Pro
Finals: Tom Carlson of Two Harbors def. Ronnie Luberda of Foley
Semifinals: Carlson had a bye; Luberda def. Bruce Kaul of Racine

Pro ET
Finals: Dave Engler of Ramsey def. Aaron Milton of Maple Grove
Semifinals: Engler def. Jenna Jahnke of Stillwater; Milton had a bye

Finals: Russ Elzy of Becker def. Ryan Hutar of Cromwell
Semifinals: Elzy had a bye; Hutar def. Andy Kuklok of St. Cloud

Stock/Super Stock
Finals: Bill Feist of Maple Grove def. Scott Dugdale of Stacy
Semifinals: Feist def. Tim Bosbek of Andover; Dugdale def. Brett Speer of Little Falls

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Kyle Olson of Moorland, Iowa def. Jimmy Paulson of Stacy
Semifinals: Olson def. Jeremy Berg of Newport; Paulson def. Mike Voss of Maplewood

Comp Trophy
Finals: Sid Osterman of Pequot Lakes def. Jared Hutar of Cromwell
Semifinals: Osterman def. DJ Spiczka of Rice; Hutar had a bye

Street Trophy
Finals: Joe Moriarty of Ham Lake def. Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls
Semifinals: Moriarty def. Holly Johnson of Mound; Gadacz def. Josh Luberda of Foley

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Cassidy Takacs of Thunder Bay, Ontario def. Zachary Zavadil of Clearwater
Semifinals: Takacs def. Carter Lindquist of Minnetonka; Zavadil def. Derrick Howell of Big Lake

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Trevor Jelinski of Little Falls def. Samantha Cielinski of Gilman
Semifinals: Jelinski def. Aaron Clampitt of Lino Lakes; Cielinski def. Zach McFarland of Sabin

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Alex Clampitt of Lino Lakes def. Megan Cielinski of Gilman
Semifinals: Clampitt def. Riley Luberda of Foley; Cielinski def. Dylan Dancer of Foley

Junior Dragster Youth
Finals: Daniel Dancer of Foley def. Carter Luberda of Foley
Semifinals: Dancer def. Brody Thompson; Luberda had a bye

Quick 16 Shootout
Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer def. Jordan Pratt of Otsego



Super Pro
Finals: Mike Anderson of St. Joseph def. Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer
Semifinals: Anderson def. Chuck Roycraft of Minnetonka; Loeffelholz def. Myron Streit of St. Cloud

Pro ET
Finals: Chuck Roycraft of Minnetonka def. Steve Brings of Howard Lake
Semifinals: Roycraft had a bye; Brings def. Travis Reutzel of Annandale

Finals: Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes def. Jesse Luberda of Foley
Semifinals: Schmall had a bye; Luberda def. Jerry Heib of Maple Grove

Stock/Super Stock
Finals: Clayton Mattson of Cloquet def. Brett Speer of Little Falls
Semifinals: Mattson def. Glen DeMenge of McGregor; Speer def. Dean Mesenbring of Rochester

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Jimmy Paulson of Stacy def. Jason Clampitt of Lino Lakes
Semifinals: Paulson def. Kyle Olson of Moorland, Iowa; Clampitt had a bye

Comp Trophy
Finals: Lawrence Schreiner of St. Cloud def. Jared Hutar of Cromwell
Semifinals: Schreiner def. Sid Osterman; Hutar def. Sheryl Takacs of Thunder Bay, Ontario

Street Trophy
Finals: Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls; def. Ryan Eisen of South St. Paul
Semifinals: Gadacz def. Joe Moriarty of Ham Lake; Eisen def. Chuck Holien of Maple Grove

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Derrick Howell of Big Lake def. Paige Findell of Zimmerman
Semifinals: Howell def. Cassidy Takacs of Thunder Bay, Ontario; Findell def. Sydney Haben of Hibbing

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Zach McFarland of Sabin def. Trevor Jelinski of Little Falls
Semifinals: McFarland def. Samantha Cielinski of Gilman; Jelinski def. Jazper Wiebusch of Ham Lake

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Riley Luberda of Foley def. Megan Cielinski of Gilman
Semifinals: Luberda def. Travis Kurkosky of Annandale; Cielinski def. Allyson Giese of Kandiyohi

Junior Dragster Youth
Finals: Carter Luberda of Foley def. Daniel Dancer of Foley
Semifinals: Luberda def. Brody Thompson; Dancer had a bye




NHRA drag racing at center stage for Thunder at the Lakes

The NHRA’s Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series makes its annual stop at BIR this weekend for Thunder at the Lakes, a three-day speed fest for drag racers gunning for a national championship.

Doug Woody competed in Top Sportsman last year.

Doug Woody competed in Top Sportsman last year.

For fans, Thunder at the Lakes is a sneak preview to the type of Sportsman drag racing they can see during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in August. These racers come from all over the country to earn points toward divisional and national championships and to take home a piece of the year-end purse worth more than $519,000.

While drag racers are on the drag strip this weekend, the North Star Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America will be on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course for three days of driving events. The BMW event is included in daily admission, and fans are encouraged to watch these skilled

Daryl Forrest raced in Top Dragster.

Daryl Forrest raced in Top Dragster.

drivers take on the 13-turn track.

The drag racing program provides some of the season’s best racing. Fans are treated to super-competitive drag racing in nine classes: Comp Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street. The Jerry Haas Race Cars Top Sportsman, Fineline Graphics & Madcap Racing Top Dragster, and NHRA Sportsman Motorcycle Series presented by Harley-Davidson round out the classes.

Thunder at the Lakes features drag racers in the NHRA’s West Central Division, which stretches from Wyoming to Wisconsin and from Colorado to Kansas, and includes parts of Canada. Friday is a testing day, qualifying and time trials are Saturday, and eliminations are Sunday.

Daily admission is $25, and kids 12 and younger are free.


Rocket cars join Bracket Drag Racing Series this weekend

This weekend’s drag racing program at Brainerd International Raceway will take on a whole new look, as a rocket dragster and a rocket go-kart will be testing on the drag strip Friday afternoon.

Capt. Jack McClure in his Rocket Go-Kart

Capt. Jack McClure in his Rocket Go-Kart

One of them will be the Rocket Go-Kart driven by 89-year-old Captain Jack McClure, who first started driving rocket-powered cars 50 years ago. The other is the rocket-powered Sonic Stinger dragster, driven by Minnesotan Kurt Anderson and built by the legendary rocket builder Ky Michaelson of Bloomington.

The two rockets cars are expected to make three or four runs down BIR’s drag strip on Friday. They’ll be sharing the track with dragsters in BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series, which will be testing that day in preparation for Saturday and Sunday’s races.

On Sunday, BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course will be hosting the Slowpokes Car Club, which will have driving

The rocket-powered Sonic Stinger dragster

The rocket-powered Sonic Stinger dragster

events on the track all day. Fans are invited to watch the club as well.

This is the second weekend for drivers in the Bracket Drag Racing Series, which features six weekends and 12 races this season. Saturday and Sunday start with time trials for all 10 classes before cars are paired up for elimination rounds, which results in winners both days.

More than 250 dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters are expected to compete, with prize money on the line for the top classes, and valuable series points up for grabs.

On Friday, though, all eyes will be on the rocket ships flying down the drag strip. Anderson’s car will go about 330 mph in the quarter mile, with a time of about 4 seconds, which is close to the speeds posted by the Top Fuel Dragsters that compete at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at BIR in August. McClure’s go-kart goes about 230 mph with a time of about 5 seconds.

Michaelson, who has a long and storied history of building rocket devices, makes the distinction between his Sonic Stinger (and the go-kart driven by McClure) and a jet-powered car. The rocket cars are powered by hydrogen peroxide reacting to a silver-plated screen. The peroxide turns to steam and is forced through a nozzle to create thrust. He said fans shouldn’t be looking for giant flames coming out the back of these cars, like you’d see when jet cars run.

Michaelson is such as rocket junkie that he named his son Buddy Rocketman Michaelson. He has built rocket-powered bikes, wheelchairs, roller skates, cars, motorcycles and even a backpack that Buddy flew when he was 7 years old. His rockets have been in movies (“October Sky”) and were launched into space in 2004, traveling 72 miles above Earth at 3,420 mph.

McClure’s rocket experience took a vastly different path. He was a stock car racer in the late 1950s and early 1960s before developing an interest in go-karts. He developed one with twin engines and discovered that it’d go 100 mph down the drag strip, giving Super Stock drag racers a run for their money. In 1963, he replaced his kart with a rocket-powered kart that he raced at drag strips all over the country. His go-kart is a small, single seat open kart with the rocket on the back.

“These rockets are going to be a lot of fun to watch,” BIR Owner Jed Copham said. “We’re told that this is the first time two rocket cars have been at the same track since the 1980s, so it’ll be a once-in-a-lifetime event for fans to see. But those who stick around for the Bracket Drag Racing Series will see some really competitive racing as well and some very fast cars, especially those competing in our new Quick 16 class.”

Daily admission this weekend is $20, and kids 12 and under are free. Camping is free with the purchase of a multi-day ticket. Visit for more details.

Street Car Showdown proves tough for defending champs

The defending champions from last year’s Muscle Car Series at Brainerd International Raceway are off to a slow start, as all but two were knocked off in the elimination rounds during the 7th Annual Street Car Showdown Memorial Day weekend.

Winner Warren Peterson's '33 Plymouth.

Winner Warren Peterson’s ’33 Plymouth.

The Showdown is the first race in the three-race series on the drag strip. The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) was on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course for the Harvey West Memorial Day Classic road race.

Rick Schmidt was one of the defending champs that survived the series’ first race. Driving his 2011 Mustang in the Pro Outlaw Class, he put on an amazing display of speed, winning the class with a final run of 220.73 mph and 6.384 seconds to dispose of Bill Krech, who shut his car down early.

Prior to the race, Schmidt said it was going to take an elapsed time of less than 6.4 seconds to win Pro Outlaw

Rick Schmidt

Rick Schmidt

Warren Peterson

Warren Peterson

this year – typically the fastest class in the series. During the elimination rounds, his last two runs were under 6.4 seconds, and the third was 6.439 seconds.

In Outlaw, defending two-time champ Jake Delmonico lost in the finals to Warren Peterson and his 1933 Plymouth truck. Peterson’s finals run was 8.026 seconds at 175.75 mph. Delmonico had some trouble getting off the starting line, running 8.323 seconds and 176.40 mph.

Mike Sterling, last year’s King Street champion, lost in the second round to Josh Knudsen and his 1979 Cobra. Knudsen when on to beat Chris Orr in the finals when Orr’s car broke. Knudsen still ran 7.961 seconds and 173.63 mph.

David Senderhauf

David Senderhauf

Duane Godbout

Duane Godbout

In Real Street Unlimited, Duane Godbout was trying to improve on his third-place finish in 2014. He had his 1969 Chevelle dialed in as he won his way to the finals and then beat Dennis Orr with a run of 9.311 seconds and 131.79 mph. Orr ran 8.940 seconds and 171.58 mph but took .872 seconds to get off the starting line.

Bill Meyer was another third-place finisher last year with his eye on the title this season, and he’s off to a good start after beating Kerry Hemenway in the finals of Real Street Natural. Meyer and his 1991 Mustang ran 10.230 seconds and 110.80 mph for the win. Hemenway posted a time of 10.738 seconds and 123.92 mph.

Josh Knudsen

Josh Knudsen

In True Street, defending champion Todd Malik won his way to the finals, facing newcomer Dan Gefre and his ’83 Malibu Wagon. Malik was quicker off the starting line but couldn’t hold off Gefre, who edged him at the finish line with a time of 8.709 seconds and 155.78 mph. Malik ran 8.849 seconds and 150.65 mph.

Defending champion David Senderhauf takes the early lead in the 660 Outlaw Street Class after beating Lucas Mlinar in the finals. Driving an ’86 Mustang, Senderhauf was quicker off the starting line and drove to an eighth-mile finish of 4.916 seconds and 145.08 mph, while Mlinar ran 5.795 seconds and 155.94 mph.

The second leg of the Muscle Car Series takes the drag strip again during the PleasureLand RV Show & Go, July 3-5. This year’s event will feature the Trans Am Series on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course as well as the National Auto Sport Association.

Results from each class are below.

Pro Outlaw
Finals: Rick Schmidt of Dickinson, N.D. def. Bill Krech of Inver Grove Heights
Semifinals: Schmidt had a bye; Krech def. Dick Malik of Blaine

Finals: Warren Peterson of Duluth def. Jake Delmonico of St. Paul Park
Semifinals: Peterson def. Steve Tharp of Maple Grove; Delmonico def. Dean Erickson of East Bethel

King Street
Finals: Josh Knudsen of Frontenac def. Chris Orr of Superior, Wis.
Semifinals: Knudsen def. Jason Geiger of Hanska; Orr def. Brian Mahnke of Proctor

Real Street Unlimited
Finals: Duane Godbout of Cloquet def. Dennis Orr of Superior, Wis.
Semifinals: Godbout had a bye; Orr def. Clint Gregerson of Grand Rapids

Real Street Natural
Finals: Bill Meyer of Andover def. Kerry Hemenway of Park Rapids
Semifinals: Meyer def. Robert Wilczek of Little Falls; Hemenway had a bye

True Street
Finals: Dan Gefre of Coon Rapids def. Todd Malik of Andover
Semifinals: Gefre def. Jason Nelson of Champlain; Malik had a bye

660 Outlaw Street
Finals: David Senderhauf of Zimmerman def. Lucas Mlinar of East St. Paul, Manitoba
Semifinals: Senderhauf def. Josh Brunz of Kasota; Mlinar def. Aaron VanHeel of Otsego

Strip Eliminator 1
Finals: Jesse Haugesag of Prior Lake def. Gerald Cook of Mora
Semifinals: Haugesag def. Mark Angier of Waconia; Cook def. Brad Lesnick of Maplewood

Strip Eliminator 2
Finals: Lee Purdham of Deerwood def. Justin Iverson of Saginaw
Semifinals: Purdham def. Scott Hielscher of Otsego; Iverson def. Scott Davich of Pequot Lakes

Strip Eliminator 3
Finals: Gary Tesar of Medina def. Steve Twaddle of Virginina
Semifinals: Tesar def. Cameron Novak of Rice; Twaddle def. Gordy Hanson of Iron

Truck Eliminator
Finals: Jerry Jablonski of Duluth def. Roger Bednar of East Gull Lake
Semifinals: Jablonski def. Chad Rach of Aitkin; Bednar def. Steve Enberg of Winsted

Manual Transmission
Finals: Keith Sand of Cambridge def. Kelly Rutz of Randall
Semifinals: Sand def. Dan Bozer of Minnetonka; Rutz had a bye

Index Class Champion
Finals: Nick Enberg of Minnestrista def. Eric James of St. Cloud
Semifinals: Enberg def. Gary Olson of Sartell; James had a bye

9.50 Index
Finals: Eric James of St. Cloud def. Patrick Heubner of Bloomington
Semifinals: James def. Gerald Cook of Mora; Heubner def. Bruce Johnson of Duluth

 10.00 Index
Finals: Austin Siemers of Milaca def. Kevin Sands of Cambridge
Semifinals: Siemers def. Greg Maaninga of Menahga; Sands had a bye

10.50 Index
Finals: Nick Enberg of Minnetrista def. Brad Miller of Duluth
Semifinals: Enberg def. Mike Hammerstrom of Bemidji; Miller def. Dave Vasseur of Rogers

11.00 Index
Finals: Bryan Hansen of Minneapolis def. Jesse Haugesag of Prior Lake
Semifinals: Hansen def. Jason Hartkopf of Eden Valley; Haugesag had a bye

11.50 Index
Finals: Zach Stengel of Blaine def. Jon Kelly of Newport
Semifinals: Stengel had a bye; Kelly def. Nate Hubert of Ramsey

12.00 Index
Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. John Feesl of St. Paul Park
Semifinals: Olson def. David Brill of Fort Ripley; Feesl def. Doug Covington of Merrifield

12.50 Index
Finals: Kevin Hemenway of Park Rapids def. Lonnie Ellenson of Park Rapids
Semifinals: Hemenway had a bye; Ellenson def. Reid Watson of Laporte

13.00 Index
Finals: Jesse Backstrom of Grand Marais def. Aaron Hall of Rogers
Semifinals: Backstrom def. Scott Hielscher of Otsega; Hall had a bye

13.50 Index
Winner: Nathan Olson of Sartell

14.00 Index
Finals: Jessica Purdham of Albertville def. Tom Leonard of Robbinsdale
Semifinals: Purdham def. David Hyttsten of Monticello; Leonard had a bye


Making headlines: This weekend’s Sands, Delmonico

Two drag racers who will be gunning for consecutive championships this year in the Muscle Car Series are Keith Sands and Jake Delmonico, both of who were featured in their hometown newspapers. They both will be competing this weekend during the 7th Annual Street Car Showdown, which kicks off the three-race series. The other two races are the PleasureLand RV Show & Go over the Fourth of July weekend and the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout on Labor Day weekend.

Keith Sand

Keith Sand

Keith Sands won the series championship last year in the Manual Transmission class, driving his 1966 GTO. His 20-year-old son, Kevin, also did well in the series, taking runner-up honors last hear in the Strip Eliminator 1 class. He drives a 1983 Olds. Read more about the lethal father-son combo by clicking here.

Delmonico and his 1968 Camaro is shooting for a three-peat in the Outlaw Class. It was looking like he was going to sweep the class for the second straight year in 2014 before losing in the finals of the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout. He was featured in the South Washington County Bulletin. Click

Jake Delmonico, Outlaw Class Champ

Jake Delmonico, Outlaw Class Champ

here to read the feature.


Showdown Notes: Kris Vox to perform, KQDS broadcasts from BIR

The 7th Annual Street Car Showdown’s program just keeps getting better and better. First, KQDS-FM returns to broadcast its wildly popular morning show from BIR’s Tower Suites Friday morning, and then Kris Vox, formerly of the band Hairball, signs on to play Friday night at The Wheelie Bar & Grille. Race fans are in for a big treat.

KQDS logoKQDS, the top radio station in the Duluth market and throughout most of northeast Minnesota, will bring its morning show to BIR Friday morning to 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 the Street Car Showdown all morning and interviewing some of the drivers who will compete this weekend.

The morning show DOES NOT air in the Brainerd market, even though you can listen to KQDS at 95.9 FM here. You can here the show in Duluth and most of northeast Minnesota. You can also click here to go to KQ’s website and listen to it streaming online.

The Wheelie Bar & Grille was originally scheduled to have DJ music Friday night but a recent scheduling change means that fans will be treated to live music by Kris Vox, formerly of the band Hairball. Kris will perform from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Hairball is the ultimate 1980s tribute band, with costume changes, rotating lead singers and a giant fan base. Vox left the band in December but will perform a one-man show Friday.


BIR kicks off summer with Street Car Showdown

Rick Schmidt is a realistic man. He understands that when you have the fastest car at the race track for an entire season and walk away with a class championship, you’re going to have a big target on your back the following season.

Rick Schmidt's 2011 Mustang

Rick Schmidt’s 2011 Mustang

That’s the situation for Schmidt, who will be returning to Brainerd International Raceway (BIR) Memorial Day weekend for the 7th Annual Street Car Showdown to kick off his second year in BIR’s three-race Muscle Car Series on the drag strip, where Schmidt will be racing in the series’ fastest class: Pro Outlaw.

The Street Car Showdown, May 22-24, is the first major event of the season at BIR and features the Muscle Car Series on the drag strip and the Sports Car Club of America’s (SCCA) Harvey West Memorial Day Classic on

Action from the SCCA Harvey West Classic.

Action from the SCCA Harvey West Classic.

the road course, a two-for-one event for race fans and a great way to kick off the summer.

Last year was Schmidt’s first crack at the Muscle Car Series, but he stole the show by driving his beefed-up 2011 Mustang to two series wins and a runner-up finish. He was flying down the quarter-mile track at 210 mph and posting winning times around 6.5 seconds.

That 6.5 seconds is quick but Schmidt doesn’t think it’s going to be quick enough this year to take the championship. He worked on his car all winter trying to get more speed out of it, because he knows that the competition did the same to knock him off this year.

“There’s going to be some heavy hitters out there this year,” he said of the competition. “It’ll be a lot harder (to win). Some of the guys are stepping up their game and will be pulling some big horsepower.”

The same thing went through Jake Delmonico’s mind this winter. He’s won five of the last six races in the Outlaw Class and is trying to three-peat as class champion this year. He spent the winter making modifications to his 1968 Camaro but didn’t really like the results, so he’s going back to the same set-up he had the last two years, when his car was rarely the fastest in the class. That required him to be the most consistent racer to win races, and that may be the formula again this year, he said.

The Pro Outlaw and Outlaw classes, as well as five other “heads-up classes” are the featured events during the Muscle Car Series because they feature the fastest cars and a “heads-up” style of racing.

The Muscle Car Series starts Friday with qualifying and time trials on the drag strip. On Saturday, qualifying and time trials continue, followed by elimination rounds on Sunday.

BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course also will be busy with racing action all weekend, starting Wednesday with the three-day SCCA Competition Racing Licensing School. Drivers can take the course to get licensed for SCCA-sanctioned racing events, like the Harvey West Memorial Day Classic that will take place Saturday and Sunday.

The Classic features a variety of racing classes, which will have practice and qualifying sessions both days, followed by 10-lap races on Saturday and 12-lap races on Sunday. Saturday’s racing program ends with a 45-minute Enduro Race.

“The Street Car Showdown is our first major event of the year and really signals the beginning of the racing season for us,” BIR Owner Jed Copham said. “The SCCA brings super competitive road racing to BIR that weekend, and the Muscle Car Series really shows off some giant horsepower. It’s a great family event and a fun way to start the summer.”

Daily admission is $25, and kids 12 and under are free. Camping is free with the purchase of a multi-day ticket. Visit for more details.

SCCA photo by Rick Corwine

Rain shortens drag racing, CRA Superbike racing

A soggy weather forecast for the first Bracket Drag Racing Series and Superbike weekend of the 2015 season didn’t seem to deter racers. Racers came out in full force to get a shot at BIR’s race track for the first time this year, in most cases.

Jimmy Paulson, foreground, beats Jeremy Berg in the first round.

Jimmy Paulson, foreground, beats Jeremy Berg in the first round.

Drag racers spent Friday testing their cars on the drag strip, and then competed on Saturday before the rain rolled in that evening and continued through most of Sunday. Seven of the 10 classes completed their elimination rounds on Saturday and determined winners.

The Central Roadracing Association’s (CRA) Superbike Racing was on the Competition Road Course all weekend. Dozens of bikes showed up for the first of five racing weekends at BIR this year. They had eight-lap sprints on Saturday as well as an 18-lap Trophy Dash. Click here for results.

On the drag strip, Mandy Anderson drove her 1979 Caprice to a Sportsman class finals win. Facing off against Grant Pesola, Anderson snuck off the starting line before Pesola and then inched past him at the finish line with a time of 12.985 seconds and 103.10 mph.

Mandy Anderson, Sportsman winner

Mandy Anderson, Sportsman winner

Josh Luberda, Street Trophy winner

Josh Luberda, Street Trophy winner

In the Pro Bike/Sled finals, Jimmy Paulsonand his Suzuki 1300 beat Cameron Belisle off the starting line and never looked back, taking the win with a 9.185-second pass at 130.95 mph.

Jared Hutar finished second in last year’s Comp Trophy final standings but will take an early lead in points this year by winning the class Saturday. He drove his ’94 Camaro to a win over Bryan Brager, who fouled at the starting line. Hutar finished with a 12.006-second pass at 111.69 mph.

Josh Luberda drove his 1970 Chevelle SS to a win Saturday in Street Trophy, beating Tyler Gadacz. Luberda nearly cut a perfect light on the starting line with a .001-second reaction time. He held off Gadacz for the win by running 14.143 seconds and 93.44 mph.

Jared Hutar won the Comp Trophy class.

Jared Hutar won the Comp Trophy class.

The Junior Dragsters were well represented this weekend as well, with 30 drivers competing. In Junior Dragster Advanced, Sarah Johnson beat Sydney Haben in the finals. Jazper Wiebusch beat Ashley Doffing in Junior Dragster Intermediate, and Dylan Dancer beat Travis Kurkosky in Junior Dragster Novice.

Results for the first Bracket Drag Racing Series race (Saturday only):

Super Pro
This class didn’t finish. The final three racers were Mike Campbell, Chuck Roycraft and Bruce Kaul

Pro ET
This class didn’t finish. The final four racers were Ken Drevnick, Joe Howell, Kaylyn Milton and Tevin Zavadill

Finals: Mandy Anderson of Sauk Rapids def. Grant Pesola of Duluth
Semifinals: Anderson had a bye; Pesola def. Layne Robertson of Litchfield

Stock/Super Stock
This class didn’t finish. The final two racers were Gene Mosbek and Alan Litke

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Jimmy Paulson of Stacy def. Cameron Belisle of Hugo
Semifinals: Paulson def. Mike Voss of Maplewood; Belisle def. Kyle Shilts of New Richmond, Wis.

Comp Trophy
Finals: Jared Hutar of Cromwell def. Bryan Brager of Pillager
Semifinals: Hutar def. Paul Songas of Stacy; Brager def. Tim McKenzie of Foley

Street Trophy
Finals: Josh Luberda of Foley def. Tyler Gadacz of Little Falls
Semifinals: Luberda had a bye; Gadacz def. Andrew Dancer of Royalton

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Sarah Johnson of Nowthen def. Sydney Haben of Hibbing
Semifinals: Johnson def. Erin Johnson of Anoka; Haben def. Paige Findell of Zimmerman

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Jazper Wiebusch of Ham Lake def. Ashley Doffing of Cottage Grove
Semifinals: Wiebusch def. Trevor Jelinski; Doffing def. Aaron Clampitt of Lino Lakes

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Dylan Dancer of Foley def. Travis Kurkosky of Annandale
Semifinals: Dancer def. Cameron Giese of Kandiyohi; Kurkosky def. Allyson Giese of Kandiyohi

Junior Dragster Youth
Finals: Daniel Dancer of Foley def. Brody Thompson of Nowthen
Semifinals: Dancer def. Carter Luberda of Foley; Thompson had a bye

On the track this weekend: Drag Racing, Superbikes

The 2015 racing season starts this weekend for more than 250 drivers in the Bracket Drag Racing Series as well as dozens of motorcycle riders from the Central Roadracing Association (CRA).

Drag racing and Superbike racing will take place simultaneously Friday through Sunday.

Reno_WOn the drag strip, the top two drivers with the largest targets on their backs will be the father-son duo of Gary and Reno Loeffelholz, who won series championships last year in the two biggest classes in the Bracket Drag Racing Series: Super Pro and Pro ET. Those championships were the first for both drivers, but hopefully not the last, they said.

This weekend’s Bracket Drag Racing Series features dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters (for kids ages 8-18). They’ll be competing for cash prizes and points in the six-weekend, 12-race series. Friday is a Test & Tune day for drivers as they make passes to get their cars dialed in for competition. On Saturday and Sunday, racers will get at least one round of time trials before elimination rounds begin, with winners in each of the 10 classes crowned at the end of both days.

RacingBIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course will be busy all weekend with Superbike racing, as the CRA takes over the track for the first of its five weekends at BIR.

Friday is for new riders and includes practice sessions. Saturday’s schedule includes practice, eight-lap sprints and 18-lap Trophy Dashes. Sunday’s schedule includes practice and eight-lap sprints.

Daily admission is $20. Kids 12 and younger are free. Tickets are available at the gate. Camping is free with a multi-day ticket.

Reno Loeffelholz, top, is the drag racer to beat in Pro ET.
Superbikes take on BIR’s road course this weekend. Photo by SDE



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