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Outlaw drags, Trans-Am Series on way to BIR

Dean Bauerly, who leads in points in the Pro Outlaw Class, will compete in the M

With 1,000-horsepower cars thundering down the drag strip, and high-performance sports cars flying around the road course with pro drivers strapped behind the wheel, race fans will be treated to an action-packed  display of motorsports Labor Day weekend at Brainerd International Raceway. 

On the drag strip is the 23rd annual Muscle Car Shootout. On the Competition Road Course is the SCCA Trans-Am Series. 

Between the two is a classic car show, live music the night of Sept. 3, on-site camping and activities for BIR’s younger fans, all of which have made the event a perennial favorite among race fans for nearly a quarter century. Racing runs rain or shine.

The Muscle Car Shootout is important again this year because it’s the grand finale of the three-race Muscle Car Series that highlights the “fast five” classes and 14 other drag racing classes. When the dust settles Sept. 4, series champions will be crowned in 10 classes.

The fast five classes are Pro Outlaw, Outlaw, King Street, Real Street and True Street, where speeds can top 200 mph and times can dip below 7 seconds. Cars in the street classes continue to get faster in the quarter-mile, with King Street classes breaking 8 seconds. 

Street classes must prove  they’re street-legal by participating in a slow cruise Sept. 3 around BIR’s road course, which shows their motors can handle slow speeds like you’d find on the street.

BIR has added five classes to the Muscle Car Series: Truck Eliminator and Strip Eliminator 1, 2 and 3. Plus, winners of the 10 Index Classes also earn points, with a series championship going to the driver with the most points at the end of the season.

Sept. 2-3 are qualifying sessions while Sept. 4 features elimination rounds.

On BIR’s Competition Road Course the Sports Car Club of America pro racing is back with a bigger Trans-Am Series, which will share the track with several other classes, including the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup. The event will be a double-race weekend for the two Trans-Am Series classes (Trans-Am and Trans-Am 2), meaning there will be practice, qualifying and racing Sept. 3-4 for each. Drivers can earn twice as many points by the end of the weekend. 

The Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup, a new addition to the lineup, also has only one race left, creating a sense of urgency for drivers in the running for a championship.

The Trans-Am Series returned to BIR last year after a 20-year hiatus. The series was one of BIR’s most popular events in the 1970s and 80s, starting with the Uncola Nationals in 1974, which attracted 17,000 fans. Pros like NASCAR’s Ken Schrader and Jimmy Spencer were among those who raced at BIR, but it was actor Paul Newman who attracted the most attention. 

Newman set a lap record during the 1977 Uncola Nationals and won races in 1978 and 1979. He won his first professional race here during the 1982 Trans-Am Series.

The series has gone through many changes over the years, but it’s back with highly skilled drivers who race high-performance cars like the Jaguar XKR, Camaros, Corvettes, Ford Mustangs, Porsches and cars in the GT2 and GT3 classes. 

The Trans-Am and Trans-Am 2 classes are separate but will be on the track at the same time, generating exciting wheel-to-wheel racing as they take on BIR’s 2.5-mile, 13-turn track. Sept. 2 is a testing day for all classes. Sept. 3-4 racing includes practice, qualifying and racing for all classes, including SCCA Pro Spec Racer and the SCCA Pro Formula Enterprise. 

“The Trans-Am Series will be a lot bigger and better than last year’s race, which we’re really excited about,” BIR owner Jed Copham said in a news release. “The Muscle Car Shootout always puts on a great show for the fans, which is why it’s our second largest race of the season. 

“Between the Trans-Am Series, the Muscle Car Shootout, the car show, the live music and everything else that’s going on that weekend, fans are in for a fantastic time and an outstanding way to close out their summer.”

Tickets are available at the gate. Daily admission is $20 for adults, $10 for kids ages 6-12. Kids 5 and younger are free. 

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

Daily schedule

Thursday, Sept. 1

5 p.m., Gates open 

Friday, Sept. 2

8 a.m. – 3:40 p.m. Testing for all classes – TAS

8:35-9 a.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series testing-TAS

10 a.m.-5 p.m. Time Trials open for all drag racing classes – MCS

10:55-11:20 a.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series testing-TAS

Noon 1st Round qualifying: Fast Five Classes – MCS

3:15-3:40 p.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series testing-TAS 

4 p.m. 2nd Round qualifying: Fast Five Classes – MCS

6:20-7 p.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series practice-TAS

Saturday, Sept. 3

8-10:40 a.m. Practice sessions – TAS

8–noon Car Show Registration

8:40-9:20 a.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series practice-TAS

9 a.m.–6 p.m. Drag racing time trials – MCS

10:50–11:20 a.m. Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup qualifying race No. 1-TAS

11:30 a.m.– 12:10 p.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series qualifying race No. 1-TAS

1 p.m. 3rd round qualifying: Fast Five Classes-MCS

1–4 p.m. Car Show Judging

2:35–3:30 p.m. Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup race No. 1-TAS

3:30 p.m. 4th round qualifying: Pro Outlaw, Outlaw, King Street, Real Street-MCS

3:40–5:10 p.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series race No. 1 (100 miles/40 laps)-TAS

5 p.m. Car Show Award Ceremony

6:30 p.m. 4 laps on the road course for competitors in the “street classes”-MCS

9 p.m.–midnight Live music by Them Pesky Kids at the Wheelie Bar & Grille

Sunday, Sept. 4

8-10:10 a.m. Practice sessions, all classes-TAS

8:40–9:10 a.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series practice – TAS

9 a.m. Class eliminations begin-MCS

10:20–10:50 a.m. Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup qualifying race – TAS

11-11:30 a.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series qualifying race – TAS

1:35–2:25 p.m. Playboy Mazda MX-5 Cup Race – TAS

2:35–4:05 p.m. SCCA Trans-Am Series race (100 miles/40 laps)-TAS

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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