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RACING: National road race returns to BIR

Roger Bateman competed in the Top Alcohol Funny Car division at last year’s Thun

It’s been 10 years since the Sports Car Club of America brought a national-level road race to Brainerd International Raceway, but after a successful SCCA regional race last year, the car club chose BIR as a site to showcase top drivers from across the country who are competing for series points. 

The SCCA Memorial Day Classic will be Saturday and Sunday on BIR’s 2.5-mile Competition Road Course. 

On the drag strip this weekend will be the annual Thunder at the Lakes NHRA Divisional Race, which features Top Alcohol Dragsters and Funny Cars. Thunder at the Lakes is a preview for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in August because it features the same racing classes except for the four pro classes.

Thunder at the Lakes is the second race in the six-race NHRA West Central Division Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series. Some of the best Top Alcohol pilots in the country compete each year at BIR during this event, where speeds can reach 280 mph and cars cover the quarter mile in 5 seconds. 

In last year’s Top Alcohol Dragster class, Chris Demke made his inaugural trip to BIR memorable by taking home the championship trophy. He beat Scott Palmer in the finals with a 5.326-second run at 269.83 mph. 

Last year’s Top Alcohol Funny Car final was delayed for a short time because Kirk Williams’ car ran off the end of the track and into a sand-filled safety area when his parachute malfunctioned after winning his semifinal race. The mishap required repairs to his car, which caused the delay. But Williams rebounded and spoiled Roger Batemen’s bid for a repeat championship, beating him in the finals with a speed of 255.68 mph and a time of 5.639 seconds. 

In addition to the Top Alcohol classes, Thunder at the Lakes features Comp Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street classes. 

Qualifying and time trials start Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. Top Alcohol Dragster and Top Alcohol Funny Car have one qualifying session Friday at 4:30 p.m., and Saturday at 1 and 4 p.m. 

Top Dragster, Top Sportsman and Comp Eliminator start their qualifying sessions at 1 and 3 p.m. Friday and noon and 3 p.m. Saturday. 

Eliminations for all classes start Sunday at 9 a.m. Top Alcohol Dragsters and Top Alcohol Funny Cars will run their first round at noon. 

The SCCA Memorial Day Classic, which will run rain or shine, features national and regional racers on the course at the same time in more than 20 different classes. Fans will be treated to a wide range of high-performance race cars, such as Formula Enterprise Pro cars, Grand Touring cars, Morgans, TVRs, Lolas, muscle cars, Spec Racer Fords and more. 

“It’s been a long time since the SCCA brought a national race to our track, but they really like our Competition Road Course because it’s got a lot of turns, which creates a lot of great opportunities for passing,” BIR owner Jed Copham said in a news release. “There will be a lot of cars on the track at one time, bumping and banging their way through the corners, which is really fun racing to watch.

“And, on the drag strip, the Top Alcohol cars put on a great show every year. They’re one step down from the nitro cars at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals but they can really fly down the track. Fans are in for a treat.”

Thunder at the Lakes and the SCCA Memorial Day Classic are a Dual Event Weekend, meaning one ticket gets fans in to see both events. Daily admission is $20 for adults, $10 for kids ages 6-12. Kids 5 and younger are free. On-site camping is free for those who buy multi-day tickets. 

For more information, visit, or call 1-866-444-4455.