Craig Billings of Milaca recalls his high school years drag racing his Dodge Polara. That feeling of speed and power never left him.
After he and his wife Sherie raised their children, they both restarted their old passion of drag racing. Craig drives a 1969 Dodge Coronet with a 440 Mopar engine and a displacement of 509 cubic inches and Sherie a 1971 Dodge Dart with a 340 cubic inch engine. For fun, the couple loves to attend the NAPA Street Legals at Brainerd International Raceway on Wednesday nights.
After making two runs Wednesday, July 1, with his Dodge, Billings was concerned about his ability to be consistent at the starting light. His best time was 11.416 seconds in the quarter mile reaching 119.23 miles per hour. Billings thought his evening was over but instead, his runs qualified him for the Reaction Time Shootout competition. When asked about his clothing attire, Billings commented, "I have won all this stuff from winning the Reaction Time shootouts"
Instead of winching his car into the trailer, Billings headed down the service road to drive back to staging. Waiting for the chance to compete, Billings met Don Hansch from the Baxter NAPA store and Dennis Welle of Pierz, who volunteer at the event and were responsible for the coordinating the reaction time contest.
The cars were brought up to the line waiting for a green light on the "Christmas Tree." At the green light, Billings raced down the quarter mile, winning the round. Circling around, Billings brings his Dodge to the line again and gets a bye, making it into the finals. In the finals, Billings jumped the starting light -- in other words he "red lighted" -- disqualifying him for the win.
Craig and Sherie spent last weekend competing in the 34th Annual Pleasureland RV Show & Go at BIR. However, both Craig and Sherie "red lighted" during competition at the Show & Go.
According to Billings, "We spent most of the weekend as spectators, watching a friend race to second place in his class."
The NAPA Street Legals events at Brainerd International Raceway occur on Wednesday nights throughout the summer with the next event July 15 beginning at 5 p.m. and running until everyone has had a few runs. All the competing vehicles have to be inspected by NAPA volunteers. The drivers are required to wear helmets. Some evenings drifting and autocross is included in the $25 entry fee for racers, $5 for spectators.
The schedule of events can be found at Brainerdraceway.com.