BAXTER -- Although the 2020 race season is still two months away, Brainerd International Raceway and a ballroom full of racers, family members and friends celebrated all things drag racing last weekend during BIR’s annual Racer Banquet.
The banquet was held at Arrowwood Lodge at Brainerd Lakes, attracting 251 people – a record number – all of who attended to honor the champions of BIR’s Bracket Drag Racing Series and the Muscle Car Series, as well as four individuals who made significant contributions to racing at BIR.
Lance Line was one of those individuals who goes above and beyond to help fellow racers and their families during race weekends. Line was awarded the Joe Angelo Sportsmanship Award for displaying great sportsmanship toward other racers. Line races in the Bracket Drag Racing Series in the Stock/Super Stock class.
Al Schmidt, from sponsor Paradigm Performance in Brainerd, presented the company’s fifth annual Dick Roe Appreciation Award to Toby Giese for his outstanding service to the drag racing community. Giese, a long-time racer in the Bracket Drag Racing Series, can be found helping out around the track in a variety of capacities during most race weekends.
Jazper Wiebusch, who graduated from BIR’s Junior Dragster program after the 2018 season, won the 2019 Rookie of the Year Award after she drove her 1997 Thunderbird to a third-place finish in the Bracket Drag Racing Series’ Street Trophy class last season.
One of the highlights of the night, though, was when racer Ron Zenzen presented his annual Outstanding Dedication Award, which he presents each year to individuals for their years of support and involvement in the sport of drag racing. Zenzen selected two people this year for the award: BIR owner Kristi Copham and BIR Ticketing Manager Stephanie Wieczorek, both work tirelessly year-round to ensure the track is a welcoming and well-run place for racers and fans.
The Bracket Drag Racing Series was well represented at the banquet, with eight of the 11 series champs in attendance. The series was seven weekends long last year, with winners crowned both Saturday and Sunday each week. The series typically attracted about 250 dragsters, cars, trucks, bikes, snowmobiles and Junior Dragsters.
Eight of the 13 Muscle Car Series champions were in attendance as well. The three-race series typically included more than 300 cars. The Street Car Showdown is Memorial Day weekend, followed by the PleasureLand RV Show & Go on the Fourth of July weekend and the GSTA Muscle Car Shootout on Labor Day weekend.
The winners in both series took home a personalized jacket and a hefty trophy.