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Drag racing fans enjoy an eventful Nationals weekend at BIR

The weekend wrapped up Sunday, Aug. 21, with a second straight day of beautiful weather and many fans said they are already looking forward to next year.

Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, at Brainerd International Raceway.
Adam and Lilly Deblieck watch the races from the top of the tower during the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, at Brainerd International Raceway.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
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BRAINERD — The rumble of engines was enough to shake the organs of the audience as people gathered for the final day of Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway.

The 40th annual Lucas Oil National Hot Rod Association Nationals returned to the Brainerd lakes area this week and people came from all over the country to watch the events. The weekend wrapped up Sunday, Aug. 21, with a second straight day of beautiful weather and many fans said they are already looking forward to next year.

Race day results from the Funny Car class at Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Aug. 21
Race Day results from the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Aug. 21.

Doug Janzig celebrated his 20th birthday at the first Nationals event at the racetrack and came back to celebrate his 60th with friends from Duluth and Bloomington.

“There’s no better place to spend (my birthday) than at Top Fuel racing,” Janzig said.

The group of friends hasn’t come every year, but they come when they can. They want to start making an effort to come more often after this weekend’s positive experience.

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“We don’t go every year, but we might have to start,” Stevie Paulson said.

Richard Strand, meanwhile, has attended Nationals every year since it began. It’s a family tradition to make the trip from North Dakota to come watch the races.

Strand raced in brackets years ago and has always loved cars, but stopped racing after his children were born. His favorite events are the nitro races and Pro Stock, but Pro Stock isn’t an event at Nationals. Strand loves drag racing, but not all kinds of racing appeal to him.

“I can’t watch NASCAR,” Strand said. “It’s really boring.”

He owns a shirt from the first NorthStar Nationals in 1982 and his son wore it to the 30th anniversary of Nationals.

“People were trying to buy it,” Strand said. “Someone offered $100.”

Strand didn’t take up on the offer, but joked he should’ve bought more at the time.

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The loud noise of the cars and being with family makes the weekend special, Strand said.

Matt and Rachel Wooden feel much the same way. Matt Wooden has attended the event for more than 20 years and Rachel Wooden, nine or 10 times. They drive down together every morning from Longville.

The loud rumble is one of Rachel Wooden’s favorite parts of the weekend and the excitement of the races is something the two cannot find anywhere else. Plus, there is good food.“The tacos are really good,” she said. “The weather has been perfect today.”

It was a bittersweet weekend for fan Dawn Triewiler. She came with her father Brad Hady, who is a long-term kidney transplant recipient. Hady became sick again recently and told Triewiler he wanted to go to Nationals one last time.

Hady has attended for more than 20 years and has a strong love for the event. Triewiler has attended a few years,but mostly goes to spend time with her dad. Hady drove from Fairmont to attend and she came from Eau Claire.

“This means a lot to him,” Triewiler said. “He just wanted to go one last time.”

Even though it will probably be their last Nationals, the family made the most out of it and enjoyed their time together.

SARA GUYMON may be reached at 218-855-5851 or at sara.guymon@brainerddispatch.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/Sara_Guymon.

Sara Guymon recently joined the Brainerd Dispatch as a staff writer.
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