Rookies ruled Wednesday at Brainerd International Raceway.
Both the overall winner of the first high school challenge at BIR, Nicholas Hamlin of Crosby-Ironton, and the runner-up, Eric Peterson of Brainerd, had never drag raced before.
Hamlin, in his green 1996 Ford Mustang with a 3.8 liter, V6, six-cylinder engine, had beginner's luck.
Peterson, in his 1994 Honda Civic with a four cylinder engine, lost after leading Hamlin by about a car length at the line. He broke out by six-thousandths of a second (went faster than his dial in time of 16.65).
Katie Jones of Pequot Lakes received advice from her stepfather before eliminations began. Each student was given two time trials before the eliminations.
Hamlin, a senior, said he had a bad reaction time compared to Peterson's, .963 to .426.
"I tried to get top end speed," he said.
He said he had his Mustang, which had a five speed transmission, in third gear at the finish.
Peterson, a junior, said he thought he won but he had doubts.
Nicholas Hamlin, a senior at Crosby-Ironton, smiled seconds before being awarded the overall winner trophy at the challenge.
"I thought there was a chance I went too fast," he said.
Adam Ritter of McGregor was credited with the fastest ET, 13.9, in his 1981 Chevrolet Camaro.
The trio was among 16 high school students competing in the event sponsored by the Lakes Area Automotive Council. Other schools competing were Pequot Lakes and Pillager. Students from two other schools, Pierz and Little Falls, committed earlier in the week but did not attend.
Also not attending were area school superintendents who were slated to compete in a Sup's Challenge. A raceway representative said they were called to a meeting.
Adam Ritter of McGregor did a burnout with his 1981 Chevy Camaro. He clicked off the fastest time of the challenge, 13.9 seconds.
For Hamlin and Peterson, both said they would be back.
Hamlin originally took up the challenge because "nobody else from the school wanted to race."
He conceded that the Christmas tree (a countdown device with lights) at the starting line bothered him.
"Oh, jeez, that was scary," he said.
The students were staged in a separate area of the track. There were 16 competing.
For Peterson he said he was encouraged to race by his friends.
"I liked it," he said. "I'll be back."
Tim Burns, drag race manager at the raceway, noted that overall the challenge went smoothly.
"(The students) are happier than heck," he said.
The students weren't the only ones competing during the first Wednesday Night Street Drags this season. More than 100 cars competed.
The next session will be June 4.
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