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Brainerd International Raceway

Brainerd International Raceway is a multipurpose racing facility, including a three-mile road course, located on a 400-acre site in central Minnesota north of Brainerd, near North Long Lake. BIR was originally known as Donnybrooke Speedway when it opened in 1963, the name was changed with its sale in 1973. BIR contains an NHRA-sanctioned drag strip, a go-kart course, and the road course (which utilizes the full length of the drag strip and shutdown area as part of the main straight). Pro series and televised events are held each year on the dragstrip and the road course.

Major portions of this page were contributed by Mark Shumaker. Click here for general information on how his pages are set up. He last updated his contributions to this page on 4 Sep 1996.

Last Updated: 2005-03-29

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Brainerd International Raceway
4343 Highway 371 N
Brainerd MN 56401

218-824-7240 (fax)

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Getting There

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The track is northwest of Brainerd MN on Route 371, 5.3 miles north of Route 120, on the east side of the road.

The entrance is not all that clearly marked; there is a large sign by the main gate but it is quite close to the ground and some distance from the main road, and not always clearly distinguishable from other nearby signs (there is a large filling station and convenience store on Route 371 immediately north of the track entrance, where Route 371 bears west; if you pass this while northbound you've gone too far). Register and enter through the main gate if it is open, then turn left immediately inside; the paddock is ahead about a quarter mile north. If the main gate is closed, continue north on Birchdale Road (just outside the track fence) to the first gate open into the track. During test days held before major events, registration is inside the track.

Racer's Guide to Brainerd International Raceway

The Paddock

It is not necessary to cross the track to enter or leave the paddock. The paddock areas extend from the exit of Turn 9 northwards and then around and east to the grandstands, and are grass over sand with paved access roads and shaded areas (mostly oak trees, watch out for falling acorns). Tech is in the smaller closed garage building at the east end of the paddock; the scales are a good distance east along the return road from the pits to the paddock. All parts of the paddock are quite distant from the working pits, but pit service vehicle parking is usually permitted in the pits. Racing gasoline (114 AON leaded and 104 AON unleaded) is available from pumps located behind the east end of the grandstand, a hundred yards or so east of the paddock. Air, water, rest rooms, showers, souvenirs, ice, and excellent food are available in the paddock; air is also available from the tire concessions, which are usually located at the northeast corner of the paddock. Goodyear tire service is provided at selected events by Competition Tire West from the permanent pad and shed (they send a small truck, not the semi; be sure to place tire orders well in advance); Hoosier and Goodrich tire service are also sometimes available. There are electrical outlets in the garages at the east end of the paddock. Reasonably-priced covered and enclosed garage space is available, contact the track business office.

BIR hosts some very large spectator events, and the facilities reflect this. Viewing areas around the entire track are easily accessible, a vehicle overpass (just after Turn 9) and a pedestrian underpass (just east of the tower) allow access into the inside of the course.

The Track

The road course is three miles long, has ten turns, and is quite wide around its entire length -- the main straight is 60 feet wide. There is essentially no elevation change. Brainerd is a very high-speed course; CSR cars will reach speeds near 160 MPH and take the slowest corners around 80 MPH. There are wide runoff areas at most of the corners, but trees seem frighteningly near the outside of the track at turns 3 and 8, and they appear to approach closer as you go faster. However, the local safety staff will assure you that cars going off the track there do not actually reach the trees -- and will repeat that assurance as they cheerfully recount their favorite hair-raising stories about cars which have actually managed to do so.

The ground off the edge of the track is generally smooth, except for the somewhat rutted runoff areas at the exit of Turns 2 and 3, curbs on the outsides of the exits of Turns 4 through 8, and ditches and low (2- to 3-foot) banks six or eight feet off the right-hand edge of the track coming into Turns 4 and 7. The entire track has been recently repaved and is extremely smooth, except for the straight from Turn 9 into Turn 10 which remains somewhat abrasive. There are some irregularities at the drag strip's start line and burnout areas, but the track is otherwise remarkably free of other bumps, frost heaves, holes, and pavement flaws.

What follows is a generic description of the track, describing its features without defining speeds, gears, or shift points -- all of which will vary widely from car type to car type.

Most of the turns at Brainerd are sufficiently well separated by straight segments that they may be treated as isolated turns. Only Turns 7 and 8 must be considered as a set of clustered turns (where your line through or out of a turn must be modified to accomodate the requirements of the next turn or the one after it).

The false grid is immediately behind the grandstand at the east end of the paddock, cars line up heading east for practice and qualifying sessions and west for races. No particularly tight turns are required to get from the false grid onto the track, but part of the false grid has a slope and some cars may have difficulty getting moving uphill from a dead stop.

The starter's stand is about halfway down the drag strip and is clearly visible from the last turn. The front straight is extremely wide and leads into the narrower but very high-speed banked right-hand 60-degree Turn 1 which is intended be taken flat out by all cars. You can go through Turn 1 pretty much anywhere on the width of the track, although you will scrub off less speed if you are alone and can take the 'classic' maximum-radius line through the corner. Following Turn 1 is a straight long enough for you to regain most or all of the speed you scrubbed off in Turn 1. Turn 2 is a flat (but wider radius than Turn 1) very high-speed right-hand 80-degree sweeper that can be taken flat out by many cars. The track is widened at the exit of Turn 2 but only for a short distance. There is a long, generally flat but badly rutted, runoff area at the exit of 2, with a robust tire wall just short of the trees. Following Turn 2 is another straight, again long enough for you to regain much of the speed you scrubbed off there.

Your car's top speed at Brainerd will be limited by aerodynamics and power, rather than by torque and weight as at slower tracks. You should be able to attain your top speed before entering Turn 1, and may be able to reach it again coming into Turn 2 and possibly into Turn 3; maintaining a high speed in this part of the course is crucial to good lap times. Just be sure not to overstress your engine, you will be spending a lot of time at max revs -- and turning hard right, so be sure your oil pickup is properly located.

Turn 3 is slow only by comparison with the two previous turns, but many drivers don't brake properly for it (after all, it's your first chance to use the brakes for over a mile, and they will be well cooled). Turn 3 is a 130-degree right-hand turn with a curb at the exit, with a following short straight leading into the left-hand Turn 4. Turns 4, 5, and 6 are a set of esses with progressively longer straight stretches following them, and curbs at the exits of all three. Turn 4 is about a 100-degree left-hand turn, slightly faster then Turn 3; Turns 5 and 6 are 90-degree right and left turns, respectively, both a little slower than Turn 4. The turns in the esses are far enough apart that you can easily get back across the track each time, and you may even recover enough speed that you need to change gears up and down between them (this more likely coming out of 5 and 6, if you change up and back down between 4 and 5 you may be geared wrong).

Look for slghtly widened track surfaces at the entrance to all these turns, these may help you -- but watch out for Turn 6, where using the widened entry will likely cause you to apex too early.

Turn 7 is a higher-speed left-hand 45-degree turn that is followed very closely by Turn 8, you must make a very late apex in Turn 7 and stay to the left edge of the track at the exit to be set up properly for Turn 8. The track surface is substantially widened at the entry to Turn 7, and again at the entry to Turn 8. Turn 8 is a 75-degree right-hand turn with a following short straight leading into the fast 60-degree right-hand Turn 9, under the vehicle access bridge. Taking too early an apex in Turn 9 can put you into the bridge abutment, and you will be going fast enough here for that to be most undesirable.

The straight following Turn 9 runs past the drag-strip paddock area down into Turn 10; sound measurements are made on the outside of the track part way down this straight. (Don't forget that Central Division tracks enforce a sound limit lower than the SCCA requirement; at Brainerd it's 103 dBA.) Turn 10 is a fast and very wide 120-degree right-hand turn leading out onto the front straight; there is a little dip on the inside that gives the effect of a slight banking, but it may be too early for practical use as an apex. You can swing wide coming out of Turn 10 but check this out carefully, since the track surface appears to fall off camber on the outside half of the pavement (it feels as if it does but doesn't look like it). Don't overdo the going wide; if you get too far to the left before stabilizing the car in a straight-ahead attitude you may come unstuck going over the burnout area of the drag strip and hit the end of the guard rail at driver's left. One you've straightened it out, though, it's just a matter of keeping your foot down and your eye on the mirror until you come into Turn 3 again. (Oh, and don't forget to shift up occasionally.) Keep an eye out for merging traffic from the pit exit onto the track, beyond the starter's stand coming into Turn 1.

If there is rain, the burnout and starting line areas are extremely slippery whenever there is a lot of rubber down, and the painted area between the lanes is also slippery but somewhat less so. Some sort of surface treatment is often used on the complete length of the drag strip before major drag races; when this treated pavement is first rained upon (the front straight and first part of Turn 1), the surface becomes as slippery as soaped glass -- rain tires and driving skill are no help.

The pit entrance is on the left at the beginning of the main straight (the drag race burnout area); just before the starter's stand it bears left to merge with the pit entrance road from the paddock. At the pit exit you bear right for the track and left to a U-turn for the paddock; Impound is at the scales along the road back into the paddock.


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