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Racing: Thunder at the Lakes kicks off MegaWeek

Brian Anthony burns out during last year's Thunder at the Lakes at Brainerd International Raceway.

When the gates opened Thursday for Brainerd International Raceway's Thunder at the Lakes, it marked the start of "12 Days of Drag Racing" that culminates with the 36th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.

This weekend's Thunder at the Lakes features the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series for Sportsman drag racers, many of whom will be racing the following weekend at Nationals as well. Drivers are racing this weekend to earn points toward divisional and national championships as well as a chance at a share of the year-end purse of more than $500,000.

Categories this weekend include Comp Eliminator, Super Stock, Stock Eliminator, Super Comp, Super Gas and Super Street. The Jerry Haas Race Cars Top Sportsman, Fineline Graphics & Madcap Racing Top Dragster and NHRA Sportsman Motorcycle Series are also in competition.

The schedule includes a Test & Tune Day on Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., followed by time trials and qualifying on Saturday starting at 9 a.m. Eliminations are Sunday. Tickets for Thunder at the Lakes are $25 daily. Kids 12 and under are free with a paid adult.

BIR now has a MegaWeek ticket where fans can enter the track this Thursday and stay for Thunder at the Lakes and all of next week, including Nationals, leaving for home on Aug. 21. The Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals is Aug. 17-20.

"Some of the best Sportsman drag racers in the country will be here for Thunder at the Lakes," BIR Owner Jed Copham said. "The cars are really fast and the competition is intense. It's always a great racing weekend.

"And those fans who want the ultimate drag racing experience — one that they can't get anywhere else in the country — will hang around all of next week, getting primed for the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals. It's the 12 greatest days of the year for us."