A team of 33 drag racers representing Brainerd International Raceway finished sixth out of 20 teams in the NHRA West Central Division Summit Racing ET Finals at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kan., last weekend.
BIR will send one racer to California in November to compete for a national championship.
Toby Giese won the Pro Bike Class and will advance to compete against the top riders in the country during the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series Finals in Ponoma, Calif., Nov. 11-14. He's been racing for 17 years and has competed at the ET Finals each of the last 16 years.
His weekend got off to a slow start. He ran over a screw after his first time trial run Friday, resulting in a flat tire and had to borrow a rear tire from another racer. Then he dripped oil in his eye while wrenching on his bike, and his weather station malfunctioned, leaving him without valuable weather information.
During the time trials, he got his 1983 Suzuki GS dialed in for Sunday's elimination rounds, which is where good luck came into play.
He won his first two rounds and the fifth round after his competition fouled at the starting line. He had a bye the fourth round. In the third round, he lined up against Tom Gilligan, a former NHRA West Central Division champion. They had almost identical reaction times on the starting line, but Giese squeaked out the win at the finish.
In the finals, Giese faced Michael Nichols, a former NHRA national champion. Their reaction times on the starting line were identical (.018 seconds) but Giese won by 7/1,000ths of a second, finishing with a time of 9.088 seconds at 135.58 mph.
"When the light came on after the race (signaling his win), I almost fell of my bike," Giese said in a news release.
Steve Roehrs, who competed in the Pro ET Class for BIR's team, won his way to the quarterfinals before narrowly losing to Brett Speer with a time of 10.162 seconds and 131.31 mph.
Myron Streit in the Super Pro Class and Russ Elzy in the Sportsman Class made it to the fourth round. Streit lost to Dustin Smiley with a final pass of 10.843 seconds and 120.97 mph. Elzy lost to Rod Whitmarsh after running 14.254 seconds and 96.47 mph.
Rory Emmans, who competed in the Sportsman Class, won the Best Appearing Car Award for his 1968 Chevy Caprice. And Glenn VanZee, who raced in the Pro Bike Class, won the Best Engineered Bike Award.
Jim Higgins, South Haven (Race of Champions representative); Ryan Scheleck, St. Cloud; Myron Streit, St. Cloud; Greg Grundman, St. Cloud; Amy Jo Luberda, Sauk Rapids; Mark Ryberg, Foley; John Marszalek, Brooklyn Center; Scott Wright, Albertville; Mike Campbell, Brooklyn Park; Donnie Durenberger, Dayton
Steve Roehrs, Frederic, Wis. (Race of Champions representative); Dave Engler, Ramsey; Bob Ingman, Andover; Mike Casteel, Thief River Falls; John Schei, Oak Grove; Kevin Rolph, Minneapolis; Mike Sonnek, Hutchinson
Chuck Fenstra, Crosby (Race of Champions representative); Jaime Turcotte, Coon Rapids; Rory Emmans, Dayton; Brad Mickle, Lino Lakes; Russ Elzy, Becker; Jim Knebel, Pillager; Jerry Hieb, Maple Grove; Jason Sandstrom, Big Lake; Heidi Michaels, Andover; Jeff Anderson, Nowthen; Jim Higgins, South Haven; Steve Roehrs, Frederic, Wis.
Mike Voss, Maplewood (Race of Champions representative); Glen VanZee, St. Cloud; Ken Niesen, Brooklyn Park; Toby Giese, Kandiyohi; Donnie Durenberger, Dayton
Kayla Noyes, Andover (Race of Champions representative); Ali Hieb, Maple Grove; Elisabeth Durenberger, Dayton