ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Resident raises concerns for noise at BIR

Kristi Copham, BIR owner, and Sheriff Eric Klang will meet this month to look at options to mitigate sound.

People watch from the stands as dragsters race down the track on a summer day.
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. BIR is known for the annual Nationals. Recently, a resident raised concerns for noise from the track, not from major events like Nationals or Lakes Jam but smaller events the rest of the year.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

BRAINERD — Following tree loss from past storms, a resident says noise at Brainerd International Raceway is disrupting his sleep and work and he called on assistance from Crow Wing County for changes.

Weston Krohn said he lives about 2 miles away from the Brainerd International Raceway as the crow flies.

“I’m an anesthesia provider here in town,” Krohn said, adding that can mean he is on call 24 hours a day. He cited a loss of peace in the area because of the noise and linked that to his job.

“When you’re on call and you can’t sleep because of the noise and you have to take care of patients, that becomes an issue.”

In response, Crow Wing County Sheriff Eric Klang said he and BIR owner Kristi Copham plan to meet in later in March.

ADVERTISEMENT

“She has assured me that we’re going to look at the different ways that we can mitigate the noise that is going on,” Klang said. “It’s not their track that’s making those noises but the people that are there visiting and that are just, you know, having a good time at all hours of the night.

"So we’re going to work at identifying some specific issues that we can do to mitigate that sound.”

The racetrack has been in the community since 1968. Krohn said the track is not the same as the one grandfathered in and has grown since then.

“It's also not the same track as it was back in 2015,” Krohn said, noting most of the natural noise barrier was eliminated from a big storm. Winds, with the force of a Category 2 hurricane, struck the Brainerd lakes area on July 12, 2015, and altered the landscape. Devastating straight-line winds felled thousands upon thousands of trees. Witnesses and meteorologists compared the storm to the Boundary Waters blowdown on the Fourth of July in 1999. BIR was among the heavily damaged areas along with numerous neighborhoods and the major resort areas on Gull Lake.

With that natural barrier gone, Krohn said the noise from the track is there all day, most days. In seeking help from the Crow Wing County Board, Krohn said he reached out to the track, especially during the pandemic, and it sounded as though the track is rented out to groups for an entire day.

“That’s one of the reasons why there is noise throughout all day,” Krohn said, adding other issues include fireworks and late night engine revving. “And I’m not specifically saying the big weekends, Lakes Jam or Nationals — that’s not the case. These are random weekends, sometimes weekdays during the summer.”

Read more

Copham agreed the devastating storm took down massive amounts of trees and that is part of the reason the sound is carrying now to neighbors. BIR has tried to repopulate trees to varying degrees of success but there isn’t an option to water new plantings to help sustain them. She said she is looking at mitigating factors such as shutting down music earlier and doing more for education and outreach with customers regarding fireworks and communicating that as massive as BIR feels with its 580 acres, it has neighbors as well. Part of it, Copham said, is just greater awareness of the entire community.

“I think it’s awareness to people as a whole that noise travels here,” Copham said of efforts to make the public aware of the impacts on the neighborhood as well.

ADVERTISEMENT

“I’ll do everything and anything I can,” Copham said.

Krohn said he’s placed frequent calls to the sheriff’s department to report the noise and has been told they’ve received multiple calls on the subject, but, he said, nothing happens.

“There doesn’t seem to be any oversight at this racetrack,” Krohn said. He quoted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stating decibels of 80-85 can cause serious damage.

The CDC site on noise and hearing loss states a soft whisper is 30 decibels and normal conversation is about 60 decibels. The CDC states noise above 70 decibels over a prolonged period of time may start to damage hearing. “Loud noise above 120 dB can cause immediate harm to your ears.”

And, the CDC states, decibels of 80-85 may cause damage to hearing after two hours of exposure.

“I've documented that and much higher at our house I live in,” Krohn said.

With recent discussions in Brainerd of noise and light pollution, Krohn said this seemed like a good time to bring the issue forward. While the racetrack brings in taxes as a business, Krohn said cabin owners and homeowners in the area also bring in a lot of tax money. Krohn said he was looking for some response. Krohn raised the sound issue at the Feb. 14 Crow Wing County Board meeting.

“I would really like to see a noise barrier go in place, an ordinance that limits hours and has decibel levels that can be enforced — and having a sheriff’s department that will look at this and do enforcement when appropriate. If BIR’s security can’t handle this, then they need to be treated just like any residents. This is much overdue. And since the 12 years I’ve lived in this house, I’ve lost the peace that has brought me to lakes country.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Copham said a barrier may not be economically feasible but is willing to talk about options available when she meets with Klang.

Copham said she isn't sure what the answer is but she'll work with Klang to come up with solutions. "I'm sure we can come up with some type of resolution for this," she said.

Renee Richardson, managing editor, may be reached at 218-855-5852 or renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchBizBuzz.

Renee Richardson is managing editor at the Brainerd Dispatch. She joined the Brainerd Dispatch in 1996 after earning her bachelor's degree in mass communications at St. Cloud State University.
Renee Richardson can be reached at renee.richardson@brainerddispatch.com or by calling 218-855-5852 or follow her on Twitter @dispatchbizbuzz or Facebook.
What To Read Next
Get Local

ADVERTISEMENT