A team of 37 drag racers representing Brainerd International Raceway will head to Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan., this weekend for the Summit Racing NHRA Division E.T. Finals, a year-end competition between race tracks within the NHRA's West Central Division.
The BIR team will try to improve on last year's third-place finish at the finals in Denver. The BIR team will be up against about 500 other racers on teams representing 19 tracks from throughout Minnesota, Iowa, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, western Wisconsin, Ontario and Manitoba.
Racers will compete for team and individual honors as well as part of a $100,000 purse. They race in five classes: Super Pro, Pro, Sportsman, Bike/Snowmobile and High School.
The individual winner of each class earns a chance to compete in the Automobile Club of Southern California NHRA Finals at Pomona Raceway in Pomona, Calif., in November against champions from the other six NHRA divisions. At stake is a national championship and $5,000.
For Kevin Rolph of Minneapolis, the weekend's competition will give him a chance to repeat as individual champion. Last year, he earned a trip to Pomona by winning the Sportsman class. This year, he's competing in the Pro class.
Dave Engler of Ramsey and Donnie Durenburger of Dayton will represent BIR in the Race of Champions, also part of the racing program in Topeka. The Race of Champions features top point getters from each track in the division. There will be a champion for cars and one for bike/snowmobile. Engler is competing in the Pro class and Durenburger in the Bike/Snowmobile class. Both competed in the Race of Champions last year.
BIR drag racers earned their spot on the team by accumulating points in the track's Home Depot Bracket Racing Series, which involves five races throughout the summer. Drivers compete against each other for points toward a track championship. They were selected for the team based on the number of points they have earned to date. There's one more series race left this year.
"We have another great team of racers going down to Topeka," BIR general manager Scott Quick said. "We have a lot of talented drivers back from last year's team, and we added some new faces as well. We look forward to the team bringing home the team championship again like it did in 2002. And since BIR hosts the E.T. Finals next year, we'll be in an excellent position to defend it."
The BIR Summit Racing Series team
Super Pro (cars that run between 7 and 12 seconds)
John Bastyr, Savage; Mike Campbell, Brooklyn Park; Greg Grundman, St. Cloud; John Helmin, Rice; Butch Belair, Princeton; Mark Ryberg, Foley; Chris Bishop, Grand Rapids; Chris Zaworski, Brooklyn Park; Chuck Roycraft, Eden Prairie; Chuck Giese, Champlin
Pro (between 7 and 13 seconds)
Dave Engler, Ramsey; John Schei, Anoka; Jeff Anderson, Anoka; Bob Ingman, Andover; Dennis Remer, Wyoming, Minn.; Kevin Rolph, Minneapolis; Lee Dugdale, Scandia; Rick Beaulieu, Forest Lake; Wally Higby, Maple Grove; Mike Sandstrom, Woodbury; Jason Charlton, Albertville; Charlie Giddings, Ramsey; Dave Manarin, Hopkins; Greg Collins, Wyoming, Minn.
Sportsman (13 seconds or slower)
Rory Emmens, Dayton; Jim Knebel, Pillager; Brad Mickle, Lino Lakes; Desiree Dziuk, Wyoming, Minn.; Jamie Turcott, Coon Rapids; Jason Sandstrom, Albertville; Chuck Fenstra, Deerwood
Bike/Snowmobile (between 7.5 and 14 seconds)
Donnie Durenburger, Dayton; Toby Giese, Big Lake; Al Coffland, Osseo; Dave Kieffer, Spring Lake Park; Bruce North, East Bethel
High School (10.99 seconds and slower)
Katie Brown, Pine River
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