The NHRA is rolling into Brainerd International Raceway next weekend with the best drag racers on the planet piloting 10,000-horsepower dragsters that are capable of covering the 1,000-foot track in less than 4 seconds.
The 37th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals is Aug. 16-19, an annual pilgrimage for more than 100,000 fans who will file in to watch the 17th of 24 races in the NHRA’s Mello Yello Drag Racing Series this season. It’s also a chance for fans to help BIR celebrate its 50th anniversary.
Built in 1968, BIR started as a 3.1-mile road course cut through woods and wetlands five miles north of Brainerd. Now the track is the premier motorplex in the Midwest, with a road course that’s certified to host all levels of road racing except Formula One, a world-class drag strip where the fastest quarter-mile run ever was posted in 2005, a 12-room condominium, a three-level race tower with deluxe suites and a new development called BIR Luxury Garages that is being introduced to fans again this year.
BIR Luxury Garages is luxurious trackside living. Located just past the drag strip’s finish line and overlooking the track, the development is perfect for racing enthusiasts who want a front-row view of racing, with space to display their cars and a two-bedroom living area to live in. The third floor as an observation deck with a panoramic view of BIR. The development also includes Garage Lofts, which include a display area and a loft for living area. Distinctive Garages are for sale as well and are perfect for racers who want to store their cars and equipment at the track between race weekends.
There are currently two Luxury Garage units built, and the owners are opening them for tours during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. There will be 10 total. Eight of the 44 Distinctive Garages are available for tours as well. More details at www.BIRLuxuryGarages.com
Back on the drag strip, the action will be fierce next weekend as drag racers battle for a shot at the Countdown to the Championship. Last year’s race saw national records fall, and two women racers swept the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes for the first time in NHRA’s history. Leah Pritchett set the national elapsed time record in Top Fuel with a sizzling qualifying run of 3.640 seconds at 330.63 mph. She went on to win the Top Fuel class and stood next to Funny Car winner Alexis DeJoria in the Winner’s Circle.
In Funny Car, Robert Hight set the national elapsed time record during qualifying at 3.793 seconds and 338.00 mph. That record still stands.
Off the track, there will be plenty for fans to see and do. The pits are always open to fans, giving them the chance to meet their favorite drivers, get autographs and take photos. Fans can literally stand within feet of the teams as they tear down the cars and rebuild them between runs. The Nitro Alley midway has a carnival-like atmosphere with interactive displays, vendors selling racing products and merchandise, food and beverages, walking tours and Nitro School, where drivers and NHRA personalities talk about how the monstrous dragsters work.
A highlight for many fans is BIR’s campground, affectionately called The Zoo. Nobody celebrates the end of Race Day like the fans in The Zoo. It’s what sets BIR apart from all other tracks on NHRA’s circuit. Drivers, race teams and NHRA officials can be found in The Zoo at night, mingling with fans and enjoying live music nightly and a massive fireworks show on Saturday nights.
Sportsman drag racing starts on Thursday and continues throughout the weekend. Nitro and Pro Stock qualifying is Friday and Saturday with eliminations for all classes on Sunday. Tickets are available at the front gate only. Visit www.BrainerdRaceway.com for ticket prices and details.