For Eric Wourms, winning his second Muscle Car Series championship at Brainerd International Raceway in the last three years was bittersweet and all too familiar.
Two years ago, he and Mike Bauerly were in a dogfight for points in the Outlaw Class after the first two races, but Bauerly was a no-show for the final race that year. Wourms went on to win the race and the series championship.
The same thing happened to Wourms this year. Bauerly was ahead of second-place Wourms in points going into the 24th annual Muscle Car Shootout Labor Day weekend but he didn’t show up. Wourms qualified No. 1 and finished as runner-up, which solidified his championship.
“It was a nice surprise that Mike wasn’t there for (the shootout) but it’s always nice to race him,” Wourms said. “I knew it was going to be a tough season because Mike’s car was running well. I just tried to be as consistent as I could all season and run as many rounds as I could. In racing, anything can happen.”
Wourms had his Federal Premium Ammunition-sponsored 632 cubic-inch 1971 Chevelle running well all season. Cranking out 1,800 horsepower, the Chevelle carried Wourms to a personal best in the first qualifying run of the shootout with a 7.373-second pass, good enough for the No. 1 qualifying position.
Wourms and 11 drivers competing in the three-race Muscle Car Series were recognized as series champions Oct. 7 during BIR’s annual racer banquet at Prairie Bay Restaurant in Baxter. The series included the Street Car Showdown, the NAPA Auto Parts Show & Go and the Muscle Car Shootout. BIR also recognized champions of the six-race Bracket Drag Racing Series.
Craig Braun also won a Muscle Car Series championship in 2010 in the Pro Outlaw Class, repeating that feat this year again – almost. Braun tied for the championship with Luke Volk in one of the strangest finishes ever.
Braun was the points leader going into the Muscle Car Shootout. A few weeks before the race, Braun was racing at a different track when his 1,410-horsepower 1968 Firebird glanced off the safety wall, damaging the body of the car and rendering it out of commission for the shootout. He decided to race his street-legal 2005 Corvette to earn as many points as he could. He lost in the first round, as expected, but earned enough points to stay in the lead.
“I knew I wasn’t going to get through a round (of eliminations),” Braun said. “I felt bad that we couldn’t race the Firebird but what are you going to do? We’ll be back next year.”
Volk was finishing up a frustrating season in Pro Outlaw when he got to the Muscle Car Shootout. Recognizing what was going on with Braun, Volk knew that he only had to win two elimination rounds to win the championship outright. But as he closed in on the finish line against Ray Fuchs, his 1967 Nova broke, allowing Fuchs to drive by him for the win.
“It was a frustrating season,” Volk said. “All in all, (the championship) is a pretty good accomplishment, though. It would’ve been nice to win it outright but it was nice to share it with Craig.”
The top three finishers in each class:
1-Craig Braun of Hampton & Luke Volk of Champlin (tie); 3-Joseph Wilczek of Little Falls
1-Eric Wourms of Grand Rapids; 2-Mike Bauerly of Rice; 3-Vern Laurin Jr. of Duluth
1-Brian Mahnke of Proctor; 2-Jason Geiger of Hanska; 3-Mike Sterling of Oak Grove
Real Street Unlimited
1-Tom Jones of Coon Rapids; 2-Jim Ripley of Duluth; 3-Richard Brown of Coon Rapids
Real Street Natural
1-Matt Sathre of Brooklyn Park; 2-Todd Malik of Andover; 3-Kevin Pallow of Andover
1-Nick Hively of Cologne; 2-Jason King of Duluth; 3-Josh Brunz of Kasota
Strip Eliminator 1
1-Eric James Dethlefs of St. Cloud; 2-Tyler Lindeman of Victoria; 3-Kathy Johnson of Maple Grove
Strip Eliminator 2
1-Luke Arendts of Dalbo; 2-Dan Boyce of Minnetonka; 3-TJ Tharaldson of East Bethel
Strip Eliminator 3
1-Gordy Hanson of Iron; 2-Dan Hyttston of Becker; 3-Matt Gerwing of New Brighton
1-Pete Trombley of Cokato; 2-Bob Hager of Red Wing; 3-Bob Whiting of Mankato
1-Jeremy Reitmeier of Crookston; 2-Greg Dancer of Isle; 3-Tim Newton of Albertville
Index Class Champion
1-Eric Dethlefs of St. Cloud; 2-Gary Olson of Sartell; 3-George Dinzeo of Woodbury