Racing: BIR’s 2020 season is still a go

Ron Capps launches his funny car off the line at the 2019 Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals at Brainerd International Raceway. The entire 2020 racing season is on at the track. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

With one eye on the COVID-19 outbreak, Brainerd International Raceway today announced its 2020 race schedule, a lineup that’s bursting at the seams with a wide variety of thrilling motorsports that begins in mid-April and runs into October.

From start to finish, the race schedule features a lineup that includes drag racing, road racing, Superbike racing, autocross, drifting, car shows, endurance racing, an Aussie-style cruising event and watercross, where snowmobiles race on open water. There’s something for everyone, including a free Fan Appreciation Weekend, when BIR will open the gates to the public for a chance to see professional road racing.

With the first spectator race scheduled for April 18-19, BIR has no immediate plans to postpone or cancel any events in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as the track’s ownership takes a wait-and-see approach.

“As of today, all our races will go on as scheduled,” BIR Owner Kristi Copham said. “We’ll continue to monitor the situation and will abide by the federal government’s guidelines for large events and mass gatherings, but any decisions will be made closer to the start of the season. In the meantime, fans can still buy tickets to all our events and they should watch our website, Facebook page and app for any notices and changes in the schedule.”

One event that is closely being watched by BIR fans in the coming months is the 39th Annual Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, scheduled for Aug. 13-16. Race fans have had that weekend marked on their calendars for months because the NHRA brings the world’s best drag racers and the fastest dragsters to BIR for a weekend of ground-pounding action. Tens of thousands of diehard race fans make their annual pilgrimage to BIR to celebrate drag racing.


The most significant addition to this year’s schedule involves the return of professional road racing July 11-12, when the Trans Am Series Presented by Pirelli takes on BIR’s road course during the Fan Appreciation Weekend. Admission is free all weekend. Fans can watch Trans Am Series racing, including a pair of 100-mile races on Sunday called the Jed Copham Memorial Race. The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) will be on the road course as well, and the First Responders Appreciation Day is on Saturday. There’s also an RV show and sale taking place Wednesday through Saturday.

Most of the events on the schedule feature more than one type of racing taking place simultaneously. The drag strip and road course are busy nearly every weekend. And most events include non-traditional motorsports as well, like drifting, autocross, burnout contests, watercross, car shows and more. That’s good news for fans since one ticket gets them in to watch everything taking place inside the track that day. Kids 12 and under are free for all events, including the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, and BIR brought back $10 Sundays for select events this summer.

The schedule is also chock-full of opportunities to get behind the wheel and transition from spectator to racer. The BIR Performance Driving School and the NAPA Street Legals on Wednesday nights are two examples, and most events have race classes for novice racers who are learning the sport and want to compete against other novices using their street-legal car, truck or bike.

The entire schedule, along with details and ticket prices, is on BIR’s website, at , and on its free app.

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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