Brainerd International Raceway's one-year old concrete and taconite asphalt quarter-mile drag strip is ready to "rock and roll" for the Lucas Oils NHRA Nationals Aug. 12-15, according to BIR general manager Scott Quick.
"I would tell (fans and racers) that the asphalt is seasoned," Quick said. "It has had a year to season and it is as good or better than any race track in the country. There won't be any issues or any problems at all with regard to running fuel cars on our drag strip."
Doug Vancil of New Mexico, who races an All Harley Drag Racing Association nitro-burning Top Fuel motorcycle, agreed. After his first pass during a test and tune session July 29 for the AHDRA Can Am Nationals at BIR last weekend, Vancil said BIR was as smooth as Texas Motorplex's all concrete strip. He made the pass in 6.548 seconds at 204 mph. On Sunday, he broke the 6.3-second barrier on the strip whose first 700 feet is concrete.
That time would be slow when the 7,000-horsepower Funny Car and Top Fuelers launch. In fact, both ends of the sub-5-second track records in each class, time and speed, are in danger of being broken in the Friday night qualifying session.
The Top Fuel ET track record is 4.531 seconds set by Gary Scelzi in 1999. Current ESPN commentator Mike Dunn set the speed record, 326.63 mph, in 2001.
In Funny Car, Whit Bazemore set the ET track record in 2001, at 4.859, and 10-time BIR winner John Force set the track speed record, 319.82 mph, in 2002.
If a racer breaks a national record, he or she must back up the run within one percent during the weekend to set the record.
Quick said last year the asphalt, at that time about three months old, was too "green" which concerned NHRA, racers and crew chiefs.
"If they tuned those cars and had the maximum down force beyond the 700-foot concrete we have out there, there may have been some issues with surface elimination with our asphalt," he said.
Quick said the last one-eighth mile wasn't prepared for Top Fuelers and Funny Cars.
Set for Nationals
-- The Lucas Oils NHRA Nationals begin at Brainerd International Raceway Thursday.
"This year (the track) will be as sticky from the start line to the end of the quarter-mile," Quick said.
Scelzi clocked the top time and speed in Funny Car last year, 4.940 at 311.63 mph. In Top Fuel, Larry Dixon, a two-time winner at BIR, posted the fastest time and speed, 4.665 at 319.90 mph.
Racers also will notice higher concrete barrier walls on each side of the strip from the starting line to the 1,000-foot mark. They were increased from 28 inches to 31 inches high. New tracks were built with higher walls. The rest, like BIR, complied over the last five years.
Quick said the higher walls were among BIR's upgrading of its drag strip, a three-year project.
General admission bleachers, which can hold up to 3,000 fans, also will be placed.
Quick said the bleachers, which will be adjacent to reserved seating bleachers, will be higher than the previous bleachers and able to accommodate more fans.
He said the event, in its second of a three-year Lucas Oils title sponsorship, continues to grow and reserved seating sales are above average.
"I've always said that motorsports fans are the most loyal sports fans in the world," he said. "And, that is reflected on television as well as like events that we host."
RV sites at the track, one of the few on the 23-event series which allow camping, were sold out after the first of this year, Quick said.
Fans and racers also will have a chance to attend a concert Aug. 15 by national recording artist Corey Stevens.
clint wood can be reached at email@example.com or at 855-5869.
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