BIR’s season finale ends in Wally wins for drag racers

Gary Loeffelholz’s 2004 Mustang typically is one of the fastest cars in Brainerd International Raceway’s Bracket Drag Racing Series, flying down the dragstrip in 7.4 seconds at 180 mph.

So there was nobody more surprised than Loeffelholz when he coasted across the finish line Saturday at 81 mph for the win. And not just any win. It was the finals of the Super Pro class, with a Wally trophy going to the winner.

 

National Dragster Challenger winners (from left) Gary Loeffelholz, Mel Knott, Dan Butler and Cameron Belisle

National Dragster Challenger winners (from left) Gary Loeffelholz, Mel Knott, Dan Butler and Cameron Belisle

“I was waiting for (Terry Pease’s) win light to go on (above the scoreboard), but it never did,” Loeffelholz said. “And then my win light came on when I rolled across the finish line – I couldn’t believe it.”

Loeffelholz’s journey to the Winner’s Circle was an unusual one. It started Saturday morning when the track was blanketed with fog, which didn’t lift until about 10:30 a.m., putting the day’s racing program about 90 minutes behind. With an unusually high car count for the weekend – 350 racers showed up to compete – and seasonally short days, racing was going to run until sunset.

With 115 cars racing in the Super Pro class, Loeffelholz and Pease won their way to the finals, just as the sun was setting. They were the last pair to run for the day.

Wally winner Luke Schneider

Wally winner Luke Schneider

Wally winner Guy Stengel

Wally winner Guy Stengel

After leaving the starting line, Loeffelholz’s Mustang veered toward the center line, resulting in the split-second decision to let off the gas and concede the win to Pease and his 1953 Thames panel truck. Unfortunately for Pease, he was ahead of Loeffelholz and couldn’t see what was going on. He kept his foot on the gas and “broke out,” meaning he went too fast. (Bracket drag racing is a form of handicapped racing, where the slower car gets a head start and both cars try to cover the quarter mile in their estimated elapsed time. If they go faster than that time, they lose. Pease lost.)

“Apparently, they said I lined up crooked at the starting line,” Loeffelholz said, admitting that things were a little hectic as they tried to get the last run in.

In addition to the win, Loeffelholz won a Wally trophy, as did the nine other winners Saturday. It was the annual National Dragster Challenge, where all the winners take home a Wally trophy that are a scaled-down version of the trophies that the stars of the NHRA win.

Jr. Dragster Wally winners (from left) Addyson Scheleck, Daniel Dancer, riley Luberda and Sydney Haben

Jr. Dragster Wally winners (from left) Addyson Scheleck, Daniel Dancer, riley Luberda and Sydney Haben

Even the four Junior Dragster winners won Wallys. For them, it was the annual NHRA Summit Racing Junior Drag Racing League Challenge.

More importantly, the weekend race – which included another round of class winners on Sunday – signaled the end of the six-weekend, 12-race Bracket Drag Racing Series, where drivers were competing for series points leading to a series championship in 11 different classes.

For Loeffelholz, his racing ended abruptly Sunday morning with a first-round loss, which was significant because he hadn’t lost at BIR since July. It included wins at Thunder at the Lakes and the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, both of which feature some of the most skilled amateur Sportsman drag racers in the country. Loeffelholz competes in the Top Sportsman class, outlasting 20 other racers Aug. 14 in the elimination rounds of Thunder at the Lakes, an NHRA West Central Divisional Race. The following weekend, during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, he beat 21 other Top Sportsman drag racers for his second win – and his second Wally trophy – in as many weekends.

“It’s been a fun run,” he said.

Below are results from last weekend.

RESULTS FROM SATURDAY, OCT. 1
Winners won Wally trophies

Super Pro
Finals: Gary Loeffelholz of Shafer def. Terry Pease of Duluth

Pro ET
Finals: Mel Knott of Prior Lake def. Wally Higby of Maple Grove

Sportsman
Finals: Dan Butler of Fargo, N.D. def. Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Cameron Belisle of Hugo def. Josh Lavelle of Rice

Comp Trophy
Finals: Guy Stengel of Blaine def. Emma McFarland of Sabin

Street Trophy
Finals: Luke Schneider of St. Joseph def. Mike Simons of Pine City

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Sydney Haben of Hibbing def. Trevor Jelinski of Little Falls

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Riley Luberda of Foley def. Dylan Dancer of Foley

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Daniel Dancer of Foley def. Brody Thompson of Nowthen

Junior Dragster Youth
Finals: Addyson Scheleck of St. Cloud def. Daniela Krech of Inver Grove Heights

RESULTS FROM SUNDAY, OCT. 2

Super Pro
Finals: Jenna Jahke of Stillwater def. Jeff Anderson of Sartell

Pro ET
Finals: Steve Stockton of Colfax, Wis. def. Chuck Roycraft of Minnetonka

Sportsman
Finals: Shawn Carlson of Elbow Lake def. Brandon Schmall of Lino Lakes

Pro Bike/Sled
Finals: Mike Bolander of Mora def. Kelley Fager of Cedar

Comp Trophy
Finals: Dennis Olmstead of Fargo, N.D. def. Brandon Kellen of St. Cloud

Street Trophy
Finals: Bob Gillespie of Brainerd def. Heather Ingman of Andover

Junior Dragster Advanced
Finals: Chandler Neimeyer of Brainerd def. Sydney Thompson of Nowthen

Junior Dragster Intermediate
Finals: Riley Luberda of Foley def. Samantha Cielinski of Gilman

Junior Dragster Novice
Finals: Megan Cielinski of Gilman def. Brody Thompson of Nowthen

Leave a Reply

Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE