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RACING: Owners, BIR celebrate 2011 anniversaries

Greg Anderson (front) raced Jeg Coughlin for the Pro Stock championship in the L

Jed and Kristi Copham and Brainerd International Raceway will celebrate anniversaries as BIR begins its 43rd season this weekend.

July will mark the Cophams’ fifth year as owners of BIR. A month later the track will host the 30th anniversary Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, the state’s largest motorsports event.

BIR’s spectator season kicked off this weekend with a dual event featuring the third annual Street Car Showdown on the drag strip and a NASA Midwest Regional Race on the Competition Road Course.

Events like the 25th annual NAPA Auto Parts Show and Go and the 23rd annual Muscle Car Shootout remain staples on the schedule, while the Powercruise car show will debut.

BIR will host seven other dual event weekends, five bracket racing series events, the Wednesday Night Drags-Street Legal Style program, Central Roadracing Association Superbike motorcycle racing, two Chumpcar World Series events, a Sport Compact and Diesel weekend and the NHRA West Central Summit Racing ET Finals.

In addition, BIR will continue to offer its Performance Driving School, SCCA Competition Racing License School and StreetSmarts Advanced Defensive Driving Course for teens.

Jed Copham took time out from preparing for the season to talk about issues pertaining to BIR.

Q. Did BIR have a good 2010 season?

A. The weather cooperated for the most part. Things were down a touch from past years but that is what we’re seeing across the board. From what I’m hearing, most people are happy with the job we’re doing, making BIR a great place to race and spectate and just overall enjoy. The economy is still a factor in every business out there, it’s going to continue to be a factor in 2011. We’re smack dab in the center of Minnesota, not far from the metro with a good population around us.

“For the entertainment dollar, I think we’re as competitive as anything out there, plus the Brainerd lakes area is such a beautiful area to enjoy. A lot of our non-Nationals events cost between $10 and $20 a day for adults to spectate, and kids 6-12 are half-price, ages 5 and under are free. 

“There’s some great entertainment, especially at dual events. You will see a road race and a drag race going on at the same time. If you’ve never been out here we think it’s worth experiencing.”

Q. How will the Highway 371 construction project affect BIR?

A. “It’s scheduled to wrap up the beginning of July, which I’m hoping stays on schedule. 

Q. Is attendance going to be affected with gas hovering near $4 a gallon?

A. “For amateur racers I think it will hurt some, to tow their big rigs and race as a hobby. Gas prices affect everyone.”

Q. What’s the Powercruise event?

A. “It’s the first one in the states. The concept originated in Australia.

“It’s kind of a cruising car show that allows you to drive your car and do burnouts and such. Instead of just parking your car and looking at it, you can actually bring it here, park it and look at it, and go play with it the way it was meant to be played with.”

Q. How will you commemorate the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals?

A. “Nationals is what BIR is most known for. It’s broadcast nationally, and the fastest drivers in the world descend on Brainerd. Along with great racing we will have fireworks, bands, and vintage race cars on display. 

“It’s a well-rounded event. Whether you come here for the day, or move in for the week, there’s something for everyone.”

Q. What else is happening in 2011 at BIR?

A. “There is great racing going on every weekend at BIR. Check out our website at or find us on Facebook (Brainerd International Raceway).”

MIKE BIALKA may be reached at or at 855-5861.