Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals Brings Millions of Dollars to the Brainerd Area
“The TV doesn’t do this event any justice,” Jed Copham, owner of the Brainerd International Raceway (BIR), said.
Get your ear plugs ready, because the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals are headed back to the Brainerd International Raceway this weekend.
“The NHRA is a really important part of what we do here; in a way, they really put us on the map here in Brainerd,” Copham said.
All race fans know Brainerd because of the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals, and many fans come from outside the country to join in on the fun.
“Fans come in from all over the country, and we do get a lot of Canadians down,” Copham said. “We are one of the closest tracks to Canada, so our Canadian market is really big.”
Over 100,000 people including fans, NHRA officials, vendors, and the racing teams will be enjoying what Brainerd has to offer over the next four days.
“Brainerd has so much to offer, the track is just a small part,” Copham said. “The resorts, the lakes, and the really great small town feel you get here in Brainerd, it’s just truly and awesome place.”
The University of Minnesota’s Tourism Center estimates a $10 million impact on the local economy from the race.
“People come to not only see the event one day, but to spend time here in the area,” Matt Kilian, Brainerd Chamber of Commerce President, said. “That’s the centerpiece of the experience, but they also patronize businesses, they also go out to eat, they have lodging needs, and so it’s a big impact for our area, and we’re just excited to have them here.”
But with more people comes more traffic.
“Hopefully they drive the way they are supposed to, and not the way that they are going to see those racecar drivers drive,” Kilian said. “If you’re in the area, give yourself a little extra time to get around.”
BIR is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and they have been hosting the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals since 1982 – a testament to Brainerd’s racing culture.
“BIR is really a place where stories are made; there is a lot of us out there that have a passion for our cars,” Copham said.
Racing starts tomorrow with the Sportsman Qualifying, and then the Nitro and Pro Stock Qualifying will begin Friday.
Tickets can still be purchased for the NHRA Nationals at the BIR box office.